Vince Dooley Had 1 National Title, 1 Losing Season

Georgia coach and athletic director built winners in men's, women's sports
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 28, 2022 5:35 PM CDT
Vince Dooley Had 1 National Title, 1 Losing Season
Vince Dooley and his wife, Barbara, attend a ceremony naming the field at Sanford Stadium in Athens in his honor on Sept. 7, 2019.   (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)

Vince Dooley, the football coach who carried himself like a professor and guided Georgia for a quarter-century of success that included the 1980 national championship, died Friday. He was 90. The school announced that Dooley died peacefully at his Athens home, surrounded by his wife, Barbara, and their four children, the AP reports. No cause of death was given. Dooley was hospitalized earlier this month for what was described as a mild case of COVID-19, but he pronounced himself fully recovered and ready to attend his regular book-signing session at the campus bookstore before an Oct. 15 game against Vanderbilt.

Hired at age 31, Dooley assembled a career record of 201-77-10 while coaching the Bulldogs from 1964 to 1988, a stretch that included six Southeastern Conference titles, 20 bowl games, and just one losing season. He is the fourth-winningest coach in SEC history, behind Bear Bryant, Steve Spurrier, and Nick Saban. In 1980, the Bulldogs went 12-0 with the help of freshman tailback Herschel Walker, then beat Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl. After retiring as coach, Dooley stayed on as the school's athletic director, a job he held from 1979 until 2004. He built a program that achieved success over a wide range of both men's and women's sports. During his tenure, Georgia teams won 23 national championships and 78 SEC championships.

"I don't think there has been a single athletic director that had the foresight Vince did about women’s athletics," said Loran Smith, a Bulldogs broadcaster. "Look at Georgia and how prominent women’s athletics are today. They are because early on Vince began allocating funds for scholarships and hiring good coaches while some other ADs were trying to figure out how to get around it." Dooley's competitiveness was hard to miss during football games, per the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, when he'd twist and turn on the sideline as his ball carriers did. When Lindsay Scott caught a 93-yard touchdown pass to beat Florida in 1980, Dooley matched him step-for-step down the sideline for almost 40 yards. In 2019, the field at Sanford Stadium was dedicated in Dooley's honor.

(More obituary stories.)

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