Vince Dooley, the Hall of Fame coach who led the Georgia Bulldogs to six Southeastern Conference titles and the 1980 national championship, has died at the age of 90, the school announced in a statement Friday.
Dooley worked at the University of Georgia for 41 years as head football coach and athletic director, retiring on June 30, 2004.
He took the Bulldogs to 20 bowl games during his 25 seasons as head coach, during which he amassed a record of 201-77-10. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1994.
The university honored Dooley in 2019 by adding his name to the field of 95,000-seat Sanford Stadium, which has been home to the Bulldogs since 1929. In addition, there is a statue of Dooley being lifted by players from the 1980 national title team at the entrance of the Vince Dooley Athletic Complex.
He was in attendance as the Bulldogs defeated Alabama to win the program’s second national championship in January 2022.
Current Georgia coach Kirby Smart called Dooley’s death “heartbreaking” in a tweet Friday.
Our family is heartbroken by the death of Coach Dooley. He was one of a kind with an unmatched love for UGA! He and Barbara embraced my family from day one. He will be missed in our community, university, and in college athletics.
— Coach Kirby Smart (@KirbySmartUGA) October 28, 2022
At age 32, Dooley joined Georgia in 1964 after spending eight seasons as an assistant at Auburn, where he was the Tigers’ captain during his playing days. He told ESPN in 2019 that his hiring wasn’t a popular decision, especially when Georgia fans realized that their new coach with the first name Vince was not Vince Lombardi.
“I can’t say that I was the most well-received coach who has ever been hired,” Dooley said in 2019. “When I look at those credentials, there’s no way as an administrator that I would’ve hired myself. A 31-year-old freshman coach at a rival school? Now suppose you had to hire somebody at an institution like Georgia and say this is the coach.”
In 1980, led by running back Herschel Walker, the Bulldogs started a four-year run during which they went 43-4-1 and won three straight SEC titles. Dooley won numerous national coach of the year awards as Georgia cemented the 1980 national championship with a 17-10 win over Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl to cap a 12-0 season.
Walker won the Heisman Trophy in 1982.
Dooley retired as head coach in 1988 to become athletic director, leading a program that won 18 national championships and 80 SEC titles during his 25-year run in that role. He is a member of the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame and Georgia Sports Hall of Fame.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.