Following the loss of legendary Auburn player/assistant coach and Georgia football head coach Vince Dooley, Alabama head coach Nick Saban shared in a statement that the recently deceased former quarterback-turned-coaching legend was one of his favorite people in the world.
“Vince Dooley was one of my favorite people in the world and a wonderful friend to the entire Saban family,” Saban said. “Vince represented the University of Georgia and all of college football with tremendous integrity and class as both a coach and athletics director. No place was that more evident than his impact on the young men he led over a lifetime as a coach. Terry and I are deeply saddened to learn of his passing and our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife Barbara and their entire family. He will be missed by many.”
Terry and Nick Saban became close friends with Vince and Barbara Meshad Dooley during summers at Lake Burton in North West Georgia. “We have enjoyed having a chance to spend a little time with them,” Dooley said in 2021 per USA Today.
Vince Dooley’s Career at Georgia Honored by Program
Vince Dooley will likely always be remembered for what he contributed to his alma mater’s Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry counterpart, Georgia, as a head coach. While in Athens, Dooley won 6 conference championships and the 1980 National Championship.
Nick Saban specifically mentioned Dooley’s days as Georgia head coach in his statement, not mentioning his playing career, one where he became a captain his senior year, and coaching beginnings at Auburn. That’s not meant to be Iron Bowl rivalry fuel either — Dooley simply made an impact on the Bulldogs program that was unmatched for decades.
The team’s official Georgia football Twitter account noted as such in its statement. “It is impossible to quantify what Coach Dooley has meant to the University of Georgia,” Georgia football said. “He embodied everything that UGA represents and made where this program stands today possible. Dawg Nation, we celebrate and honor the life of a DGD! Thank you, Coach.”
Kirby Smart Comments on Vince Dooley’s Passing
In addition to the Georgia football program honoring Vince Dooley, current Bulldogs head coach Kirby Smart — the first coach to bring a non-Georgia Tech national title to the Peach State since Dooley — paid tribute to the Mobile-born play-caller.
“To the Dooleys back home in Athens, I know they’re together,” said Smart during the post-game media scrum following a 42-20 win over Florida on October 29 in Jacksonville, Florida. “It meant a lot for us to win that game for them and for all that Vince has meant to our university as such an ambassador to our program and really for all of college football.”
Smart would go on to comment on how Dooley would have felt watching the Bulldogs build up a 28-3 in the first half against the Gators before being outscored in the second half. “I know if he was looking down on that one he would have enjoyed the first half. I don’t know if he would have enjoyed the second one,” Smart said. “He and Erk [Russell] probably had a laugh together about it. He’s meant so much to us. In honor of him and their family, it was special. It was a tough time for that to happen.”