Doo­ley talks about foot­ball, fam­ily, UGA his­tory

The Covington News - - OPINION - You can reach Dick Yarbrough at yarb2400@ bell­ or P.O. Box 725373, At­lanta, GA 31139.

I called Hall of Fame foot­ball coach Vince Doo­ley this week to get his per­spec­tive on UGA’s heart-break­ing loss to Alabama in the SEC Cham­pi­onship game.

There are few peo­ple more qual­i­fied to com­ment than Vince Doo­ley. Let’s start with the fact that he won 201 foot­ball games, six SEC cham­pi­onships and a na­tional ti­tle dur­ing an il­lus­tri­ous ca­reer that stretched from 1964 to 1988.

Cur­rently, Coach Doo­ley is trav­el­ing around the state, au­to­graph­ing copies of his lat­est book, “His­tory and Rem­i­nis­cences of the Univer­sity of Ge­or­gia” (Look­ing Glass Books.) This is his third col­lab­o­ra­tion with na­tion­ally-known Ge­or­gia artist Steve Pen­ley. Be­fore get­ting to foot­ball, I asked him, “Why this book?”

“Steve Pen­ley and I were at a func­tion and he said, ‘Why don’t we do a book to­gether?’ I agreed and in­tended for the first one to be a his­tory book but we ended up do­ing a book on foot­ball first and then a garden book” — Doo­ley is also a master gar­dener — “be­fore we got to this one.”

“As for this book, I have al­ways been in­ter­ested in his­tory,” he said. “I got my master’s de­gree in his­tory and even while coach­ing, I au­dited his­tory classes at UGA.” He talks about grow­ing up in Mo­bile and visit- ing Baldwin County, Ala. Only later did he learn the county had been named for Abra­ham Baldwin, the first pres­i­dent of the Univer­sity of Ge­or­gia.

The man is more than qual­i­fied to re­flect on the 200-year his­tory of the univer­sity and to rem­i­nis­cence about his 40 years there and the five UGA pres­i­dents with whom he served dur­ing his ten­ure. I was in­ter­ested in what he had to say about out­go­ing Pres­i­dent Mike Adams with whom Doo­ley had a cool re­la­tion­ship (but bet­ter than mine.)

“I tried to be his­tor­i­cally ac­cu­rate about Pres­i­dent Adams,” he said sim­ply. Maybe I should try that.

Any more books in the off­ing?

“If I said ‘yes,’ Bar­bara would di­vorce me,” he de­clared.

No­body — not a mod­est and much-beloved colum­nist, a fa­mous foot­ball coach or any per­son with a brain larger than a pea­pod — will mess with Bar­bara Doo­ley. I stay on her good side by re­mind­ing her I love her bet­ter than ba­nana pud­ding. So far, so good.

Doo­ley did men­tion he has a great in­ter­est in Civil War his­tory and might take a look at some­thing on that sub­ject down the road, but that is our se­cret, OK?

Fi­nally, I got around to the SEC Cham­pi­onship game. Doo­ley said, “It was the best cham­pi­onship game I have ever seen. I just wish I could have been neu­tral and en­joyed a great game.”

The coach said he was per­son­ally proud of Mark Richt, whose hir­ing was his last ma­jor de­ci­sion be­fore re­tir­ing as ath­letic di­rec­tor in 2004.

“I am also proud of the Bull­dog fans,” he added, “and the way they sup­ported the team’s ef­fort.”

Doo­ley said it will take a while for this bad feel­ing to pass. “There are al­ways go­ing to be ups-and-downs in the coach­ing pro­fes­sion and you have to keep things in per­spec­tive,” he said. “If you will re­call, we had Pitts­burgh beaten with 35 sec­onds to go in the 1982 Sugar Bowl and Dan Marino threw a fourth­down pass for a touch­down to win it.”

When he thinks about that game, he re­mem­bers the Buck Belue-to-Lindsay Scott pass that beat Florida, as well as other close games he won. Keep the ups-and-downs in per­spec­tive, he said. I sus­pect Coach Richt will do just that.

I asked about his son Der­rick, who was fired at Ten­nessee af­ter three years. His dad said Der­rick is go­ing to be just fine and has a lot of op­tions for the fu­ture. “To­day, success has to be im­me­di­ate,” he said, point­ing out that Duke bas­ket­ball coach Mike Krzyzewski, the win­ningest coach in NCAA Di­vi­sion I men’s bas­ket­ball his­tory, was 38-47 af­ter his first three years. Vir­ginia Tech foot­ball coach Frank Beamer was 24-40 with the Hok­ies be­fore turn­ing that pro­gram around and to­day has more wins than any ac­tive foot­ball coach in ma­jor col­lege foot­ball. I doubt ei­ther coach would have sur­vived in to­day’s en­vi­ron­ment.

Vince Doo­ley will be busy au­to­graph­ing his books over the next cou­ple of weeks. You can check the In­ter­net to see if and when he will be in your area. If you do see him, tell him you know a guy who ad­mires him greatly for all he has ac­com­plished. The coach is not only writ­ing about his­tory; he is still mak­ing it.


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