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Former Georgia football coach Vince Dooley, a legendary figure in Athens who led the Bulldogs to their second national championship in 1980, has died, the school announced on Friday. He was 90 years old.
Dooley coached at Georgia from 1964-88 and worked as athletic director from 1979 to 2004 as he presided over some of the best years in program history. The Bulldogs went 201-77-10 under his watch as coach, including seven 10-win seasons and six SEC championships.
The 1980 Georgia team ranks among the most memorable in program history as the Bulldogs finished 12-0 with a 6-0 record in conference play. The Bulldogs beat No. 7 Notre Dame 17-10 in the Sugar Bowl to capture the crown behind star running back Herschel Walker, who went on to win the Heisman Trophy in 1980. It was the first national championship for Georgia since 1942.
When Dooley retired, he trailed only Paul “Bear” Bryant for the most wins ever by an SEC coach. Since then, only two coaches have passed him: Nick Saban and Steve Spurrier. Ironically, despite being the winningest coach in Georgia history, Dooley was an Auburn graduate. He played quarterback for the Tigers from 1951-53 and worked as an assistant at the school from 1956-63.
While serving as athletic director, Dooley hired three Georgia football coaches: Ray Goff, Jim Donnan and Mark Richt. Those three coaches combined to go 231-104. Seventeen of Georgia’s 31 NCAA team sports championships occurred during Dooley’s tenure.
“Sorry to hear the news of coach Dooley’s passing,” Richt said. “Obviously one of the greatest coaches of all time. But also the man who hired me and mentored me in my first head coaching opportunity at Georgia. I owe a lot to Coach. May God bless Barbara and the rest of the Dooley family!”
Dooley is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame, the Georgia and Alabama Sports Halls of Fames and is the winningest coach in Georgia football history. The Bulldogs finished ranked in the AP Top 25 12 times during his tenure, including eight top-10 finishes.
Despite retiring nearly two decades ago, Dooley has remained involved in Georgia athletics. 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. Smart played defensive back at Georgia from 1995-98 during Dooley’s reign as athletic director. Dooley also attended the Bulldogs’ 2022 opener against Oregon.
“Our family is heartbroken by the death of Coach Dooley,” said Smart. “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.”
Georgia’s field at Sanford Stadium is named Dooley Field in his honor. His son, Derek Dooley, followed Vince into coaching and served as head coach at Louisiana Tech and Tennessee.
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