Vince Dooley and Kirby Smart Pay Tribute
On Saturday, Georgia football head coach Kirby Smart and the Bulldogs celebrated a victory when they defeated Florida 42-20. It marked their second straight undefeated regular season and came just days after paying tribute to Vince Dooley – the former Georgia coach who passed away last month at 90.
Dooley was a longtime icon at the University of Georgia, serving first as its head coach from 1975-78 and later as its athletic director. Throughout his tenure with UGA he won an impressive 201-77-10 record and earned himself induction into the 1994 College Football Hall of Fame. Additionally, Dooley was beloved among students, coaches and alumni alike for his ability to inspire them with compassion.
Once the university community learned of Dooley’s passing, it took a moment to honor the coach who brought a national championship to Athens. A field was named in his honor at Sanford Stadium and Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall was renamed Dooley Complex in his honor.
He played an integral role in UGA’s sports programs and left a lasting mark on campus, particularly as coach who hired Smart in 2015. It was an honorable moment for someone credited with returning the program to its glory days when it won five SEC titles during his five years as head coach.
Smart, who had a special connection to Dooley, made sure to wear the shirt, sweater and tie that Dooley once donned as coach at Georgia. A gift from Dooley’s sons Derek and Daniel, it was an effortless way for Smart to pay tribute both to his former coach and to Georgia itself.
Smart donned the classic Southern gentleman ensemble that Dooley was known for during his tenure as Georgia’s head coach. Smart donned the same button-up shirt, Georgia tie and black sweater that Dooley donned during his coaching days.
Last month, Dooley passed away at the ripe age of 90. He was an iconic figure for Georgia and its fans alike and will be missed by a large part of its community.
His legacy is seen throughout Georgia and beyond, with Dooley Field named for him at Sanford Stadium. Additionally, the school’s athletic department erected the Butts-Mehre Complex in his honor and even has a statue of Dooley outside Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall.
When the team was informed of Dooley’s passing, it came as a shock. Although it had been an emotional 24 hours, Smart remained composed and focused on what lay ahead. He remembered talking to Dooley in the training room the week prior, sharing stories from Georgia football history with him.
Smart was honored to have the chance to play against Florida, the team Dooley once coached and won three games against. It was an opportunity for his Bulldogs to prove Dooley proud, with a victory that could send them into next week’s SEC championship game with the top seed.