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A Tale Of Two Dooleys (Or: How Vince Wouldn’t Have Survived Today)

You can get ready for a whole heapin’ helpin’ of Vince and Derek Dooley-related stories this week.  All day, every day.

It started yesterday when Seth Emerson of The Macon Telegraph caught up with legendary Georgia coach Vince Dooley, father of Derek.  (No relation, we think, to the moonshiner.  God, I love that song.)

Well, Vince says he’ll stay away from Sanford Stadium on Saturday.  According to Emerson, he said he’ll be experiencing “a dilemma of mixed emotions.” 

“I’m going to be in my home in my den watching the game on television,” Vince said.  “There is no question I have to pull for my son.  It is family first.  It is a great dilemma, of course.  But never the less, to not pull for Georgia in Sanford Stadium, there is no question I couldn’t do that.  So I am staying away.”

You can be certain that there are some Georgia fans who will curse Dooley for ever pulling against the Dawgs.  Those people are either idiots or terrible parents.  Of course, he’ll pull for his son over a school.  That’s what any decent, rational person would do.

But perhaps Dooley is being rational on another front, too.  Perhaps he’s staying away from the game because it looks like it’s be a mess.

Saturday’s matchup will be the first time since 1906 that the Bulldogs and Volunteers have met when both teams had losing records.  Georgia is 1-4 and many fans are thinking about ousting Mark Richt and starting from scratch.  Tennessee is 2-3 and they’re about as much at scratch as you can get under their third coach in three years.

The two squads have fallen hard in 2010.

Things are so bad in Athens that Dooley the Elder is having to defend Richt.  “You need to be able to realize that while you spire for the best, you’ve gotta realize that that’s not always possible.  And you have to hang tough through the tough times.  What’s the old saying, ‘Tough times don’t last, but tough people do.’”

But with Richt perched on a seat that keeps getting hotter, some Tennessee fans are actually worried that Georgia might nuke its current coach and then try to retrace its bloodlines by hiring Dooley the Younger away from Tennessee.

When I mentioned that scenario to some of the guys on CSS’ “SportsNite” in Atlanta, it was met with laughter.  One said, “They’d be more likely to bring back Vince.”

I would agree.  I don’t see Georgia firing a perennial winner like Richt in order to chase a coach who has a 19-23 career coaching record.  Even if he did grow up going to UGA games to watch his daddy coach.  (Derek played at Virginia, not Georgia, by the way.)

But then again, I laughed last year at the idea that Southern Cal would grab Lane Kiffin away from the Vols.  What school going through an NCAA investigation, I thought, would hire a guy who already had the NCAA bloodhounds on his trail after just one year in Knoxville?  What school used to winning titles would hire a guy with an overall losing record in two head coaching stops? 

Apparently a school that couldn’t get anyone else to say yes.  Which is pretty much how Dooley the Younger wound up in Knoxville with his losing record in tow, too.  (Sometimes searches don’t go as planned and Dawg fans should be mindful of that when ranting on sportstalk shows.)

But I can’t imagine — even if Dooley beats Richt on Saturday — the UGA fanbase clamoring for Vince’s boy.  Muschamp, Smart, Gruden and Cowher will be the names Dawg fans will lust after. 

But back to the joke of UGA going after 78-year-old Vince for a return engagement — you realize he likely would not have survived at Georgia or Tennessee in the current environment, don’t you?

In 25 years at Georgia, Dooley the Elder hung up a record of 201-77-10.  He won one national title — 16 years into his reign — and collected five SEC titles.  Richt is on pace to win two SEC crowns per decade, too, and he’s only in his 10th season, not his 16th, when it comes to his national title chase.

Here are Vince’s year-by-year records:

1964 — 7-3-1
1965 — 6-4
1966 — 10-1 (SEC champs)
1967 — 7-4
1968 — 8-1-2
1969 — 5-5-1 (At this point today, fans would be saying the ’66 season was a fluke)
1970 — 5-5 (Today, Dooley likely would be fired at this point)
1971 — 11-1
1972 — 7-4
1973 — 7-4-1 (In today’s environment, fans would have been on Dooley’s case again)
1974 — 6-6 (If Dooley had survived ’70, he would have been fired here by today’s fans)
1975 — 9-3
1976 — 10-2 (SEC champs)
1977 — 5-6
1978 — 9-2-1
1979 — 6-5
1980 — 12-0 (SEC and national champs)
1981 — 10-2 (SEC champs)
1982 — 11-1 (SEC champs)
1983 — 10-1-1
1984 — 7-4-1
1985 — 7-3-2
1986 — 8-4
1987 — 9-3
1988 — 9-3

Today, Dooley the Elder is considered a legendary coach in the SEC.  One of the best ever.  But UGA’s current coach is on the hot seat and he’s never tasted a season with fewer than eight wins.  Sure the Dawgs played fewer games in the ’80s and ’70s, but 12 of Dooley’s 25 seasons ended with seven wins or fewer.

Georgia backers would not accept that today. 

And Tennessee fans — if told Dooley the Younger would match his father’s record year-for-year — wouldn’t stand for such “mediocrity,” either.

That’s how times have changed.  It was the best of times.  Now it is the worst of times (in terms of fan/media scrutiny).  That’s the Tale of Two Dooleys.

And that’s one Dooley-related story you’re not likely to hear anywhere else this week.



  1. [...] each loss by a coach is magnified.  Up-and-down seasons are no longer tolerated.  Legendary coach Vince Dooley would never last 25 years at a school like Georgia today, for example.Mark Richt should know that.  He should accept that.  [...]

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