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Vince Dooley: A Conversation

Watch the Full-Length, Unedited Interview:

[Hosted by Susan Hoffman]

Vince Dooley's career unfolded over 40 years on the University of Georgia campus, where he made the “Dawgs” a national phenomenon. However, while Dooley is best known best as a sports icon, he is also passionate about history and gardening, flirted with running for political office and has opinions on a wide range of topics. In Vince Dooley: A Conversation, he sits down with Susan Hoffman for a lively and candid discussion of his life, influences and career.

Vincent Joseph Dooley was born in Mobile, Alabama, on September 4, 1932, the fourth of Nellie and William Dooley's five children. As a young boy, he realized athletics could save him from a life of working in the shipyards. At Mobile's McGill Catholic High School, he became a basketball star and played quarterback on the football team, which he led to the Mobile City championship in 1949.

Dooley’s athletic prowess brought him offers to attend several universities. He chose Alabama's Auburn University as they promised he could play both basketball and football. A knee injury during his junior year brought Dooley’s basketball career to an end, but he continued to excel at football under coach Ralph "Shug" Jordan. He also maintained his academic studies and graduated with a degree in business management.

After his graduation, Dooley spent two years in the U.S. Marine Corps, an experience that would characterize his coaching style for the next 32 years. In 1956, Dooley had several options: to remain in the Marines, return home to a banking career, become a high school coach or return to his alma mater as an assistant football coach. Auburn won out, and Dooley spent the next seven years there in the football program while also earning a masters degree in history.

In December 1963, Dooley's life—and athletics at the University of Georgia—changed forever when he accepted the position as head football coach of the Bulldogs. Over the next 25 years, Dooley led the team to national prominence, winning 201 games, 6 southeastern conference championships and a Sugar Bowl.

In 1979, Dooley was appointed athletic director at the University of Georgia. Under his leadership, the Georgia Athletic Association became a powerhouse. Dooley expanded the program and became a consummate fundraiser. In 2004, Dooley ended his 40-year tenure at the University of Georgia. His career there had been marked by success, honors and some controversy. Since his retirement, Dooley has kept very active and devotes most of his time to his family, gardening, the study of history and, last but definitely not least, sports.

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