Vince Dooley Biography

Vincent Joseph Dooley (September 4, 1932 – October 28, 2022) was an American college football coach and athletic director at the University of Georgia from 1964 to 1988. (UGA). Dooley compiled a 201-77-10 record as the head coach at UGA during his 25-year tenure. His teams won six Southeastern Conference championships and the national championship in 1980. Following the 1980 season, Dooley was named “Coach of the Year” in college football by several organizations, including the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association, whose annual award has since been renamed the Paul “Bear” Bryant Award.


Early life and education 

Dooley was born on September 4, 1932, in Mobile, Alabama. He had Irish and Italian ancestors. He studied at the McGill Institute, which was run by the Brothers of the Sacred Heart. He competed for McGill’s athletic teams, known as the Yellow Jackets, and considered basketball to be his best sport for a few years. [3]

Dooley received a football scholarship to attend Auburn University, where he played and later coached under Ralph “Shug” Jordan. He earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 1954 and was a member of the Phi Kappa Theta fraternity. He returned to Auburn after serving as an infantry officer in the United States Marine Corps from 1954 to 1956, and eventually earned a master’s degree.


Coaching career 

Dooley was hired as head coach at Georgia after serving as the offensive coordinator at Auburn for the first ten years of his coaching career. 
He won six Southeastern Conference championships (1966, 1968, 1976, 1980, 1981, 1982) and one National Championship (1980) in his 25 seasons. 
Following the 1980 national championship season, Dooley was approached by former Auburn teammate and Alabama Governor Fob James for the head coaching position at Auburn.
Dooley eventually declined the position, which went to Georgia alumnus Pat Dye. Dooley was 3-0 against Georgia Tech’s Bobby Dodd in his first three seasons at Georgia. Dooley, who was the first recipient of the Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year Award, was influenced by Dodd’s style and approach to the game. [7][8][9] At the time of his retirement, he was the SEC’s second-winningest coach, trailing only Bear Bryant.

Post-coaching career 

Dooley retired as head football coach after leading UGA to 201 victories, six SEC championships, and one national championship. He had served as athletic director since 1979.  Dooley helped Georgia become one of the most successful athletic programs in the country. During his tenure as athletic director, he hired former Florida State University football coach Mark Richt.  
In 1986, Dooley ran for the Democratic Party’s nomination for U.S. Senate. In 2002, his wife, the former Barbara Meshad, ran in the Republican Party primary for U.S. House.  Dooley belonged to the Gridiron Secret Society. Kennesaw State University hired Dooley on December 2, 2009, to work as consultant in the school’s drive to achieve accreditation.

Dooley’s other hobby was gardening, about which he wrote a book.  Dooley also collaborated with Mascot Books to release two children’s books about the University of Georgia mascot, How ‘Bout Them Dawgs! and Hairy Dawg’s Journey Through the Peach State. From 2016 to 2018, Dooley was the Chairman of the Georgia Historical Society’s Board of Curators.


Personal life 

In March 1960, Dooley married Barbara Meshad.  They met while both were students at Auburn,  and remained married until his death.  They have four children together.  Derek Dooley was the head football coach at the University of Tennessee and Louisiana Tech University,[15] as well as an assistant coach for the Miami Dolphins, the University of Georgia, Missouri, and LSU, and a position coach for the New York Giants.

Bill Dooley, Dooley’s younger brother, worked on the Georgia Bulldogs’ football staff before becoming a well-known college head coach at the University of North Carolina, Virginia Tech, and Wake Forest. During the December 1971 Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Florida, the two brothers found themselves on opposing sides of the field. Dooley died at his home in Athens, Georgia, on October 28, 2022. He was 90 years old and had recovered from mild COVID-19 symptoms the month before his death.


Awards and honors 

In 1978, Dooley was inducted into the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame, 1984 into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame, and 1994 into the College Football Hall of Fame. 
In 2001, he received the Amos Alonzo Stagg Award from the American Football Coaches Association. Dooley received the Carl Maddox Sport Management Award from the United States Sports Academy in 2004, an award given annually to an individual for contribution to the growth and development of sports through management practices.  Dooley was also inducted into UGA’s Circle of Honor in 2004, the school’s highest honor for former athletes and coaches. Dooley received the Homer Rice Award, the highest honor bestowed by the Division I-A Athletic Directors Association, in September 2007.  Dooley was born in 2007.
In 2011, Dooley was elected as Georgia Trustee. Individuals whose accomplishments and community service reflect the ideals of the founding body of Trustees, which governed the Georgia colony from 1732 to 1752, are recognized by the Georgia Historical Society in collaboration with the Governor of Georgia.  He was inducted into the Marine Corps Sports Hall of Fame on January 25, 2013.

In Dooley’s honor, the Georgia Historical Society established the Vincent J. Dooley Distinguished Fellows Program in 2018. The Dooley Distinguished Fellows Program is intended to achieve two goals that are consistent with Coach Dooley’s life and legacy: recognizing senior historians and mentoring and developing emerging historians. Author Rick Atkinson and historian David Blight have been named Vincent J. Dooley Distinguished Teaching Fellows.

The football field at the University of Georgia was renamed “Dooley Field” in honor of the coach on September 7, 2019.
The Vince Dooley papers were donated to the Georgia Historical Society in 2009. From the 1950s to 2004, the papers contain correspondence, memos, clippings, financial records, football schedules and calendars, applications, contracts, speeches, photographs, audiovisual materials, and publications.