“I want to make it clear at the outset that I have not been contacted by Auburn or the search firm regarding the position,” Vince Dooley said in a statement. “Since I have the greatest respect for Auburn and since any future statement I make might be construed in the wrong way, I believe it would be best for all concerned that I make no further comment until such time as the search process runs its course.”
The possibility of Dooley, who was forced out of his position at Georgia on June 30, replacing outgoing Auburn A.D. David Housel was mentioned in at least two Alabama newspapers this week. The Huntsville Times reported Wednesday that Dooley was expected to get “serious consideration” for the post. The Times also reported that Dooley has expressed interest in the job and was receiving the support of his college roommate and former Alabama governor Fob James.
“Because Auburn is my alma mater and I spent 12 years there as a student-athlete and/or assistant football coach, and since I have stepped aside as athletic director at Georgia,” Dooley said in his statement, “it is not too surprising that there might be speculation about my name being mentioned among others as a potential candidate.”
Dooley quarterbacked Auburn and then coached under legendary coach Shug Jordan before taking the head coaching job at Auburn. In 1980, the Tigers offered Dooley their head coaching job and believed he was coming until he made a late decision to remain with the Bulldogs.
NOT READY FOR PRIMETIME: ESPN dispatched a camera crew and three analysts to Athens on Wednesday morning to tape Georgia’s practice. The network put microphones on Coach Mark Richt, defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder and offensive coordinator Neil Callaway and aired the practice from 2:30 to 3:30 Wednesday afternoon.
Richt volunteered at the SEC Meetings in Florida this summer to be one of the SEC teams featured by the network. He was able to catch part of the broadcast Wednesday afternoon.
“It seemed like every ball we threw, we dropped. Guys were stumbling around. It was perfect,” he said. “Anybody who watched that is going to get overconfident.”
The Bulldogs tried to take everything except the basics out of the practice to keep from giving away any secrets, but they weren’t completly successful.
“There already were a couple things where I said dadgumit, I wish you couldn’t see that,” he said.
At one point, analyst Trev Alberts interviewed Richt during the practice and asked him what it would take for the Bulldogs to follow through on the high expectations set for them this year and possibly play for the national title.
“I think the biggest thing we have to do is score touchdowns in the red zone,” Richt said.
It was a reunion for Richt and analyst Trev Alberts, who was a linebacker at Nebraska during the 1992 Orange Bowl, when the Cornhuskers played Florida State.
“We couldn’t block him,” Richt said. “He probably got drafted real high because of that game. None of our guys could touch him, and we weren’t smart enough to double him.”
SCRIMMAGE REPORT: The Bulldogs held their first scrimmage of the preseason in Sanford Stadium on Wednesday afternoon. As expected, the No. 1 offense had the upper hand against the No. 2 defense and the No. 1 defense prevailed over the No. 2 offense, but there were some bright spots on both sides, Richt said.
Backup quarterback D.J. Shockley led the No. 2 offense to a touchdown in a one-minute drill, and receiver Sean Bailey had two touchdown catches for the No. 2 offense. Fred Gibson had a touchdown catch for the starting offense, and Reggie Brown had a 60-yard score called back on a holding call. Tyson Browning had a touchdown run.
INJURY UPDATE: Guard Max Jean-Gilles returned to practice Wednesday but re-injured his ankle slightly during the scrimmage. He will be held out until at least Monday, Richt said. Running back Michael Cooper watched the scrimmage while propped on one crutch. He is suffering from a bruised Achilles’ tendon and won’t be back until at least Saturday.
READY FOR BATTLE: True freshman linebackers Josh Johnson and Brandon Miller are headed for playing time this year, VanGorder said. Johnson is the second-team middle linebacker thanks to Odell Thurman’s suspension and Miller is working at second-team strongside linebacker.
The prospect of immediate playing time appeals to Miller, who came to Georgia not knowing what position he would play.
“I want to play everywhere, really, but linebacker is my spot, I can see that now,” he said. “I’m about to get it down pat.”
STILL NECK AND NECK: Richt was impressed with two kicks he saw freshman Andy Bailey make during the scrimmage, but he wasn’t ready to declare Bailey the leader for the starting spot.
Up until the scrimmage, Bailey and Brandon Coutu had performed almost identically this fall. Their operation time is two/100ths of a second apart and their overall accuracy is one percentage point apart, Richt said. In the scoring system the coaches use to pinpoint their accuracy numbers, the kickers get a one for a solid hit, a two for a kick that barely goes through the uprights and a three for a miss. Bailey and Coutu are separated by 1/10th of a point in that category.