Before he started, though, Dooley said he had to comment on Georgia’s recent loss to Auburn University.
“But I’m going to start off getting off my mind what happened Saturday night. That is a game for the ages. When you talk about the agony of defeat and depression for the Georgia people, and for the Auburn people that are here I’m sure it was a thrilling victory and a great relief too when it was over,” he said. “My wife ... she hollered, ‘Oh, no’ and fell on the floor. She stayed there. ... I had to pick her up and carry her to bed.”
The game led Dooley to comment on the long-running history between the Georgia and Auburn football programs. In addition to the “cross fertilization” of coaches that has occurred between them, Dooley said the colleges’ football programs began at the same time. The first football coaches for Georgia and Auburn attended Johns Hopkins University, where they first saw a game of football being played. Dooley said both men decided to bring the game back to their universities and they would later play against each other. The first Georgia and Auburn game was held at Piedmont Park in 1892, he continued, and both teams came with their respective colors and mascots.
“Georgia came from Athens on a train with red and black. Even the mascot, which was a goat at the time — it was decorated in red and black. I think that all of Georgia was probably a little overconfident,” Dooley said. “Auburn upset Georgia and won the game 12-0 and the alumni of these students of Georgia were so depressed that they barbecued the goat.
“In fact, it was Georgia’s first tailgating.”
Dooley coached the Bulldogs for 25 years, earning 201 victories and taking the team to 20 bowl games. When he was first hired in 1964, he said excitement centered around the fact UGA was doing a nationwide search for a new coach.
“So they said we’re going to do a national search for a coach and everybody got excited. Then they got real excited when they announced the new coach was Vince. Those people were thinking Vince Lombardi. So when they announced the new coach, Vince Dooley, the more candid Georgia people said, ‘Who in the hell is Vince Dooley?’” he said.
In his retirement Dooley has taken up gardening and working with artist Steve Penley on a variety of book projects. Penley was a guest at the luncheon as well and had prints of his work on display. Dooley has also worked with Kennesaw State University as a consultant for their fledgling football program.
“The last thing I truly enjoy for the last several years — has been four or five years now — I’ve been doing consulting work with Kennesaw State as it moves forward to having football, which is absolutely amazing to me,” Dooley said. “Think of the number of institutions that have started football ... There have been 40-something schools, particularly in the South. ...
“Football costs money and there are only a small percentage of the schools that really make money — Georgia, most of those in the Southeastern Conference, that highest level. In fact, there’s only 20 percent of the whole programs that have football that actually make money, but yet, people continue to have football. Why is it? Well, football is able to give institutions something that perhaps most of the [institution] can’t generate and that is a brand or culture.”
Penley followed Dooley, and he spoke about his background at UGA and how he came to meet the retired coach.
“When I first met coach [Dooley], I tried to convince him I used to play for him. I figured — just to see if I could get away with it — I figured he’s so old he won’t remember. He saw right through my lie. He said, ‘You never played for me, son,’” Penley said.
Once both speakers concluded their remarks, Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Joe Frank Harris Jr. asked businesses to consider partnering with the Bartow County College and Career Academy’s new apprentice program that allows students to earn school credit while working at a business and earning a paycheck. For more information on the program, contact the chamber at 770-382-1466.