Vincent Joseph Dooley was born September 4, 1932, in Mobile, Alabama. He attended the McGill Institute and competed on their athletic teams, known as the Yellow Jackets. He was recognized as an all-state player in both football and basketball and received a football scholarship to study at Auburn University.
Vince played quarterback at Auburn and later coached under Ralph “Shug” Jordan. He got a bachelor’s degree in business management in 1954 and served as a captain in the United States Marine Corps from 1954 to 1956. After his service, he did obtain a master’s degree from Auburn in history in 1963. While working on his master’s he was quarterback coach under Jordan for five years, before serving as the school’s head freshman coach for three years.
He was then appointed head coach of the Georgia Bulldogs in 1963, at the age of 31, even though he had no prior experience in that position. Dooley finished with a 7–3–1 record and led the Bulldogs to the Sun Bowl, defeating the Texas Tech Red Raiders.
My heart breaks at Coach Vince Dooley’s passing. Coach Dooley was like a second father to me and his family became my family. Coach put his trust in me and I put my trust in him. He taught me about the values of hard work and perseverance. There is no one who loved America more than Coach Dooley, and he proudly served his country in the United States Marine Corps. Without Coach Dooley, there is no Herschel Walker. He helped make me the man I am today and I will never be able to thank him enough for everything he did for me. Julie and I are praying for Barbara Dooley and Coach’s entire family during this difficult time.Herschel Walker
He oversaw Georgia’s upset 18–17 win over Alabama, the defending national champion, in the opening game of 1965, before guiding Georgia to the 1966 Southeastern Conference (SEC) title, their first in seven seasons. That year they only lost one game and won the Cotton Bowl Classic against the SMU Mustangs. They finished 4th in the final poll of the season. Two years later, Georgia won their second SEC title under Dooley, but they lost the Sugar Bowl to the Arkansas Razorbacks.
Dooley led the Bulldogs to victories in the December 1971 Gator Bowl and the Peach Bowl two years later. He won his third SEC title with the school in 1976, losing only one game in the regular season and shutting out the Alabama Crimson Tide 21–0 at home. However, UGA lost the Sugar Bowl that year 27–3 to Pittsburgh, the national champions. At the end of the season, Dooley became the first recipient of the Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year Award. Georgia finished the 1977 season with a 5–6 record, representing the only losing season in Dooley’s career as head coach.
1980 National Champs
Two years later, he was appointed as Georgia’s co-athletic director after Joel Eaves retired. The Bulldogs finished the 1980 season with a perfect 12–0 record and became consensus national champions for the first time after defeating Notre Dame 17–10 in the Sugar Bowl.
Dooley was consequently honored as AFCA Coach of the Year, Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year, Walter Camp Coach of the Year, and Sporting News College Football Coach of the Year.
The Bulldogs won two more SEC titles during Dooley’s tenure (1981 and 1982) but lost the Sugar Bowl in both those seasons. Georgia won the Cotton Bowl in 1983, the Liberty Bowl four years later, and the 1988 Gator Bowl, his final game as head coach.
Dooley’s hobbies in retirement were Civil War history and gardening, about which he has published a book. He also partnered with Mascot Books to publish two children’s books about the UGA mascot, How ‘Bout Them Dawgs! and Hairy Dawg’s Journey Through the Peach State. Dooley was the chairman of the board of curators for the Georgia Historical Society from 2016 to 2018.
“\Our family is heartbroken by the death of Coach Dooley. He was one of a kind with an unmatched love for UGA! He and Barbara embraced my family from Day 1. He will be missed in our community, university, and in college athletics.Kirby Smart
On October 22, 2012, Vince was inducted into the Marine Corps Sports Hall of Fame in Quantico, Va. The U.S. Marine Corps Sports Hall of Fame honors former Marines who have excelled both on and off the athletic playing field.
Dooley was in attendance at the 2022 College Football Playoff National Championship to witness coach Kirby Smart lead the Bulldogs to their first national championship in 41 years. Georgia’s field at Sanford Stadium is named Dooley Field in his honor.
Vince Dooley died on October 28, 2022, at his home in Athens. He was 90 years old. He was hospitalized with a mild case of COVID-19 in early October but was released on Oct. 12. Coach Dooley is survived by his wife, Barbara, two sons, Daniel and Derek, and two daughters, Deanna and Denise.
- James Ralph “Shug” Jordan (September 25, 1910 – July 17, 1980) was an American football, basketball, and baseball player and coach of football and basketball. He served as the head football coach at Auburn University from 1951 to 1975, where he compiled a record of 176–83–6. He has the most wins of any coach in Auburn Tigers football history. Jordan’s 1957 Auburn squad went undefeated with a record of 10–0 and was named the national champion by the Associated Press. Jordan was also the head men’s basketball coach at Auburn (1933–1942, 1945–1946) and at the University of Georgia (1946–1950), tallying a career college basketball record of 136–103. During his time coaching basketball, he also served as an assistant football coach at the two schools. Auburn’s Jordan–Hare Stadium was renamed in Jordan’s honor in 1973. Jordan was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 1982. [Back]
- Joel Harry Eaves (June 3, 1914 – July 18, 1991) was an American college football and basketball player, coach, and athletic director. He is perhaps most known for coaching basketball at his alma mater, the Auburn Tigers of Auburn University. He is the all-time winningest coach in Auburn basketball history. He was also once the athletic director for the Georgia Bulldogs. Eaves was inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in 1978. [Back]
- Paul William “Bear” Bryant (September 11, 1913 – January 26, 1983) was an American college football player and coach. He is considered by many to be one of the greatest college football coaches of all time and is best known as the head coach of the University of Alabama football team. During his 25-year tenure as Alabama’s head coach, he amassed six national championships and thirteen conference championships. Upon his retirement in 1982, he held the record for the most wins (323) as a head coach in collegiate football history. The Paul W. Bryant Museum, Paul W. Bryant Hall, Paul W. Bryant Drive, and Bryant–Denny Stadium are all named in his honor at the University of Alabama. He was also known for his trademark black and white houndstooth hat, deep voice, casually leaning up against the goal post during pre-game warm-ups, and holding his rolled-up game plan while on the sidelines. Before arriving in Alabama, Bryant was the head football coach at the University of Maryland, the University of Kentucky, and Texas A&M University.
- The Marine Corps Sports Hall of Fame, a wing of the National Museum of the Marine Corps previous inductees include Ted Williams, Hank Bauer, Edie LeBaron, Hayden Fry, Ken Norton, and Lee Trevino. [Back]