The school said in a statement Friday that Vince Dooley, a Hall of Fame coach who led the Georgia Bulldogs to six SEC titles and the 1980 national championship, has died at the age of 90.
Dooley was the head football coach and athletic director at the University of Georgia for 41 years. He left his job there on June 30, 2004, when he turned 65.
During his 25 years as head coach, he led the Bulldogs to 20 bowl games and had a record of 201-77-10. The College Football Hall of Fame made him a member in 1994.
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In 2019, Dooley’s name will be written on the field of Sanford Stadium, which seats 95,000 people and has been the Bulldogs’ home since 1929. At the entrance to the Vince Dooley Athletic Complex, there is a statue of Dooley being lifted by players from the 1980 national championship team.
In January 2022, he was there when the Bulldogs beat Alabama to win their second national championship.
In a tweet on Friday, the current Georgia coach, Kirby Smart, said that Dooley’s death was “heartbreaking.”
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 one. He will be missed in our community, university, and in college athletics.— Coach Kirby Smart (@KirbySmartUGA) October 28, 2022
Dooley joined Georgia in 1964 when he was 32 years old. He had been an assistant coach at Auburn for eight years, where he had played as the team captain. He told ESPN in 2019 that his hiring wasn’t a popular choice, especially when Georgia fans found out that their new coach with the first name Vince wasn’t Vince Lombardi.
Dooley said in 2019 that he couldn’t say he was the most popular coach ever hired. “When I look at those credentials, there’s no way I would have hired myself as an administrator. A first-year coach at a rival school who is 31 years old? Now, let’s say you had to hire someone to be the coach at a school like Georgia.”
The Bulldogs started a four-year run in 1980, led by running back Herschel Walker, in which they went 43-4-1 and won three straight SEC titles. Dooley won a lot of national coach of the year awards during Georgia’s 12-0 season in 1980, which ended with a 17-10 win over Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl. This clinched the national championship for Georgia.
The Heisman Trophy was given to Walker in 1982.
Dooley left his job as head coach in 1988 to become athletic director. During his 25 years as athletic director, he led a program that won 18 national titles and 80 SEC titles. He is in the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame and the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame.