That day 39 years ago was Vince Dooley's first official act in the
as he coached Georgia to a 19-7 win over Clemson.
"All I thought about was Clemson," he said. "That was all
that was on
my mind that day."
Today's 12:30 p.m. Southeastern Conference game against Kentucky will
be Dooley's last game in the stadium as athletic director, and he
insists the same thing is true.
"I absolutely have not (thought about it being my last game), but I
have been reminded of that so much that I'm going to have to start
thinking about it I guess," he said. "The game is more important, much
Some people would argue that.
Dooley's impending departure - his contract will run out on June 30,
2004 - has been a source of rancor among Georgia fans since UGA
president Michael Adams decided in June not to extend Dooley's contract.
Some fans are planning to wear black to today's game in mourning of
Dooley will remain on the university payroll until at least 2005,
serving as a consultant, and he tried to focus on that this week when
asked about the occasion.
"I mean I'm coming back here, in a different capacity, obviously, but
I'm coming back," he said.
Almost every opposing SEC school on Georgia's schedule this season has
done something during the game to honor Dooley's last game against their
team, but Dooley vetoed a similar tribute today.
"(The other schools) were nice to ask me, and it would have been not
nice to say no, but I can control it here," he said. "I'm still the
athletic director, and I said no."
Said Georgia defensive coordinator Rodney Garner: "It's hard to
they won't do something anyway. I'm sure they probably will."
Garner, who is the football coach with the most time at Georgia,
praised Dooley this week for his hands-off approach to the football
"You hear war stories (at other schools)," Garner said,
"but he is not
a guy who butts in. He's very supportive. If you want advice, you have
to ask him for it."
Dooley has plenty of experience on which to draw. He won 201 games in
25 seasons as the Bulldogs' coach, including 112 in Sanford Stadium.
"There has to be a flood of emotions and memories," Georgia head
Mark Richt said. "Gosh, I don't know, it just doesn't seem right."
Georgia quarterback David Greene, who was born the year Dooley won his
final SEC Championship (1982), said the Bulldogs would love to send
Dooley off with one final victory.
"This is the guy who's really built this," Greene said.
"He's meant so
much to Georgia for so many years. We'd like to send him out on a good
According to Dooley, Georgia's players shouldn't give the occasion a
second thought. He won't, he said.
"I won't even think about it, I'll do what comes naturally," he
"I'll go to the locker room after the game, hopefully to congratulate
Coach Richt, but I'll be there either way."
Sanford Stadium held 43,621 fans the first day Dooley coached there and
only that many because an expansion of 7,621 had just been completed.
Today, he will sit in his suite beside the press box and look at a
facility that holds 92,058 thanks to six expansions he has overseen
since that time.
"It's a very special point of pride to me," he said. "It's
magnificent place. I think each time we've added to the stadium has been
a good feeling. I can't imagine any place better. I really can't."
Five of Dooley's greatest days in Sanford Stadium
Nov. 28, 1964, Georgia 7, Georgia Tech 0: Dooley snapped a three-game
losing streak against the Jackets, who at the time led the overall
series 27-26. When Dooley retired, Georgia led the series 45-33.
Sept. 18, 1965, Georgia 18, Alabama 17: The Bulldogs beat an
team that was coming off an 8-0 SEC Championship season in the
season-opener. It was the only league game the Tide lost on the way to
another conference crown.
Oct. 8, 1966, Georgia 9, Ole Miss 3: Dooley wins his first matchup
against Ole Miss coach John Vaught and goes on to his first SEC
Championship. The Bulldogs were 6-0 in the league that year, tying 6-0
Alabama for the crown.
Oct. 2, 1976, Georgia 21, Alabama 0:
The tracks that at the time overlooked the stadium were packed to
watch Georgia hand Alabama its first conference loss since 1972. "It
was a tremendous celebration," Dooley said. It was one of only two SEC
games Alabama lost from 1973-1979.
Sept. 20, 1980, Georgia 20, Clemson 16: The Bulldogs avenged a loss
from a year earlier on the way to an undefeated season and the national
title. Dooley's six SEC title teams never lost a game in Sanford
Five of Dooley's worst days in Sanford Stadium
Nov. 30, 1974, Georgia Tech 34, Georgia 14: "Rain that turned into
sheets of ice that turned into hail that turned into a blizzard. Plus we
were getting the heck beat out of us," Dooley said. "That's as bad as
Oct. 22, 1977, Kentucky 33, Georgia 0: The Wildcats march through
Athens on the way to a 6-0 conference record. England's Prince Charles
watches the game from the stadium.
Nov. 3, 1979, Virginia 31, Georgia 0: Dogs get blown out in first
meeting of teams in 72 years. Dooley finally gets chance to avenge loss
in next-to-last season, winning 30-22 in 1987 in Athens.
Dec. 1, 1984, Georgia Tech 35, Georgia 18: Georgia whipped by Jackets
team that won just six games that year. It was one of Dooley's three
home losses to Georgia Tech.
Nov. 14, 1987, Auburn 27, Georgia 11: The Tigers, then the dominant
team in the league, leave a bitter taste in Dooley's final home game
against his former school. Dooley was 1-5 in his last six against