Legendary Georgia Football Coach Vince Dooley Hospitalized

by Nick Geddes
(Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Vince Dooley, the legendary Georgia Bulldogs head football coach, was hospitalized Saturday afternoon with COVID-19.

Per Atlanta’s 11Alive Sports, a Georgia spokesperson said that Dooley’s COVID-19 case is considered “mild.” Dooley, 90, was unable to make his scheduled appearance at Georgia’s bookstore ahead of the team’s home tilt against the Auburn Tigers. Dooley turned 90 on Sept. 4 — one day after Georgia’s 49-3 victory over the Oregon Ducks in Week 1. His birthday was celebrated prior to the game in Atlanta, with the band playing “Happy Birthday” for him.

Dooley served as head coach from 1964-1988 — becoming Georgia’s all-time winningest coach. Dooley went 201-77-10 during his tenure, leading the Bulldogs to their second national championship in 1980. Georgia won six SEC championships under Dooley, the last coming in 1982. He retired after the 1988 season and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1994.

Dooley, who became Georgia’s athletic director in 1979, continued in that role until 2004. He is currently a consultant in Kennesaw State’s athletic department — a position he’s held since 2009.

Vince Dooley Called Kirby Smart’s Success at Georgia

Dooley’s 1980 national championship team was the last to come through Athens. That is, until last season, when Georgia broke the 41-year drought. The Bulldogs of course were led by head coach Kirby Smart. Dooley said during his 90th birthday weekend that Smart was destined to become one of the greatest coaches in the history of the sport.

“Kirby Smart is destined to be in time not only Georgia’s greatest coach, but one of the all-time great coaches in college football,” Dooley said. “This year will be especially challenging coming off the national championship. There is no doubt that his philosophy that puts great emphasis on recruiting will again provide an opportunity to end up among the top four.

“Who knows what may happen in the playoffs? Historically, though, in modern football the odds are against repeating at that level. But standards are at a maximum height right now, and the Bulldogs’ future is at an all-time high.”

When the Bulldogs had confetti raining down on them in January, it was Dooley whom Smart embraced.

“I think about hugging Vince Dooley’s neck after the game, and I’m in tears and he’s in tears,” Smart said. “I got off the elevator the other night, and I thought it was a sign when the elevator opened on the 15th floor, Vince Dooley was sitting on a bench locked out of his room, and I thought, ‘God put him there, for me to see him the night before this game.’”