Legendary Georgia football coach Vince Dooley has died at age 90

(AP Photo/John Amis)

Longtime Georgia football coach Vince Dooley, who led the Bulldogs to 1980 national title, has died at age 90.

When the University of Georgia went searching for a head football coach in the early 1960s, the Alabama-born Dooley was an unlikely choice.

“I was 31 years old, a freshman coach at a rival school. As an administrator, there’s no way I would have hired myself under those conditions,” Dooley told the UGA Oral History Collection

But over the next 25 years, Dooley was named the Southeastern Conference coach of the year seven times. His crowning moment came in 1980, when he guided the Bulldogs to a perfect 12-0 record and a national championship. Georgia wouldn’t climb back to the top of the college football world until the school’s championship victory in 2022.

Dooley retired as Georgia’s head coach in 1988, but served another 15 years as UGA’s athletic director. He won 201 games during his career as UGA’s head coach and six conference titles. 

But Dooley said coaching was about more than victories.

“That, I think, is what I really wanted to strive for, that they could look back and felt like I was a good example for them in life,” Dooley said of his players.

Dooley was born Sept. 4, 1932 in Mobile, Alabama. He attended Auburn University where he played both football and basketball. He spent two years in the U.S. Marine Corps in the mid-1950s.  He would later serve as an assistant coach for Auburn before he was hired at Georgia. He was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1994.

Dooley and his wife Barbara started the Dooley Library Endowment fund at UGA. In 2019, the University of Georgia named the playing field at Sanford Stadium in Dooley’s honor. 

“I’m thankful for all of the people that were a part of making it happen and all the people that share in this, which is the greatest thrill of all,” Dooley said following the ceremony that day. “The players, family, cheerleaders, band, the managers and trainers – some very special people of the Bulldog Nation.”

 On multiple occasions, Dooley considered running for public office, but he was never a candidate. Instead, he poured his efforts into gardening at the home in Athens.

“It’s good for the mind and good for the body because I enjoy working in the yard,” said Dooley. “And it’s good for the soul.”