The legendary former Bulldogs football coach was in Savannah on Wednesday night to speak at the annual Salvation Army Gala, a fundraising dinner held at The Plantation Club at The Landings.
Doing benefits for the Salvation Army is nothing new for Dooley, who noted that he spoke at the same affair 30 years ago, and has served the Salvation Army in several different capacities in Athens.
“Sometimes when I was coaching, I had so many things going on that I can’t remember half of what I did,” Dooley said. “But, I do remember speaking here.
“I’m proud and happy to be back in Savannah, as I have been here many times. I feel right at home in Savannah as I grew up in a port city (Mobile, Alabama), and there are a lot of similarities between the two.”
Dooley was on his way to Jacksonville for Saturday’s Georgia-Florida game, a matchup which he virtually owned when he coached the Bulldogs from 1964-1988. This will be Dooley’s 53rd UGA-UF game.
The now 84-year-old former coach and UGA athletic director was only 32 when his team beat the Gators 14-7 in a game which coincidentally was also the first Georgia-Florida for Gators quarterback and future head coach Steve Spurrier.
Dooley and Spurrier are the dominant names in the series, which is billed as the World’s Largest Cocktail Party. Dooley was 17-7-1 against Florida while Spurrier was 1-2 as a player, but an impressive 11-1 against UGA as the Gator coach.
While proud of his 201-77-10 record as Georgia’s coach, which included a national championship in 1980 and a four-year stretch (1980-1983) when the Bulldogs went 43-4-1, he is also proud of his work with the Salvation Army.
“One thing for sure is that I love the Salvation Army,” Dooley said. “I served on the Salvation Army board in Athens for several years and even led a campaign in order to raise funds to build a new facility there.”
While he has been “retired” for several years, Dooley remains extremely active, and he has a wide range of interests. He has, for example, created a spectacular garden at his home in Athens, the same home he has lived in since 1964.
And, he is also has a strong interest in history, one which now sees him as the chair of the Georgia Historical Society.
And, he also paused to offer up a vote of confidence to Georgia football coach Kirby Smart, who has fans questioning whether or not he was the right hire to replace Mark Richt.
In Georgia’s most recent game, it lost to Vanderbilt 17-16, which gives Smart as many losses against the Commodores as Dooley had in 25 years.
“It’s not the way everybody would like for it to be,” Dooley said of UGA’s 4-3 start. “Sometimes that’s one of the problems because it’s about expectations.
“I think Kirby Smart is the right person to lead the program,” Dooley said. “But, it’s not going to be a quick fix. It’s pretty obvious we’re going to be struggling along the way, but I think we’re headed in the right direction.
“I think recruiting is going to be really important, and I think, in the long run, the Bulldogs (fans) will be very proud of them, and I want them to start being proud Saturday.”
Article from SavannahNow.com