Former Georgia Bulldog Vince Dooley on Hilton Head Island talking football

mmccombs@islandpacket.comDecember 16, 2013 

Former University of Georgia head football coach Vince Dooley signs a couple of his books for fan David Malcom of Sun City Hilton Head while making an appearance at the new Hilton Head Island Kroger as part of the store's opening week celebration. Dooley coached the UGA football team for 25 years and led the Bulldogs to more than 200 victories, including a 1980 National Championship.

JAY KARR — Jay Karr Buy Photo

The former top Dawg was in town Sunday.

Former University of Georgia head football coach Vince Dooley, along with his wife Barbara, made an appearance Sunday afternoon at the new Hilton Head Island Kroger at Shelter Cove to promote his latest books, sign autographs and pose for photos with fans.

The 81-year-old Dooley went 201-77-10 as head coach of the Bulldogs from 1964-1988 and was athletics director from 1979 to 2004. He led the Bulldogs to a 12-0 record and the national championship in 1980.

A member of the College Football Hall of Fame, Dooley won six SEC championships and led the Bulldogs to 20 bowl games in 25 seasons.

Dooley has written nine books. His latest are "History and Reminiscences of the University of Georgia," a history of the university since Dooley's arrival with thoughts from the coach, and an updated version of "Dooley's Play Book," on what the coach considers to be the greatest football plays in the Bulldogs' history.

After the signing, Dooley was kind enough to take the time to answer some questions about his time at Georgia and college football in general.

Question: What's different about Georgia today from when you started there.

Answer: There's so many things just from an athletic standpoint. When I came, the budget was $2 million. The budget now is over $90 million. When I came, the stadium was 43,000. Today, the stadium is 93,000. When I came, the fundraising for athletics was $75,000. When I left, it was $22 million. That's just athletics. The university has developed into a first-class public university, ranked consistently the top 20 in the country.

Q: There's a lot of talk about paying college football players. Is that something you think could happen, or should happen?

A: No. There's one thing that could be justified ... that would be cost of attendance. There's a move now to raise that to $2,000. But if you consider that the great majority of athletes for football and basketball are on full Pell (grants), which can bring them $5,000 a year. And then you consider they can pick up an additional $1,000 from the NCAA. That's an additional $6,000. So you've got a full scholarship and you've got $6,000 a year. And you've got a scholarship that's probably worth $150,000. The thing about paying them, people have this wrong conception that these poor fellows don't have anything or can't even get a hamburger. But when you start counting the money that I just pointed out, they do pretty well. I think we get to the point where we are paying the players and we just ought to close up shop. That's not what we're here for.

Q: What are your thoughts on the end of the BCS and the beginning of the four-team playoff next year?

A: It ended with a bang, which is good. Because I thing for maybe only the second time in 12 years, they got it right. But it was a good first step. I'm very much in favor of the four-team playoff. However, I'm very much against it ever growing to eight teams or 16 teams. I think that's going to be a real problem if that ever happens. But I think it's a good thing and I'm looking forward to seeing it happen.

Q: There have been a lot of comparisons between Todd Gurley and Herschel Walker. Is there a comparison there? Has there been somebody as good as Herschel Walker was?

A: Gurley has the strength of a Herschel. He has the competitiveness. But he doesn't have the speed of Herschel. That's a rare combination. Herschel had, in one package, three things I have not seen. He had this incredible strength. Incredible speed, He was a world-class sprinter. And he had mental and physical toughness and self-discipline. Intangibles. He still today is the best-conditioned 51-year-old man in the world, I think. He looks like he could play 60 minutes. And he's a very self-disciplined individual. I've never seen anybody in one package like him. That's what separates him from all the rest. I've known backs that had greater moves. Stop, start, turn, twist. Rodney Hampton, he played for me, he played several years for the Giants. As far as the maneuverability, he was better than Herschel. But not those three things. Speed, strength and self-discipline.

Q: Will the NCAA survive if it doesn't change?

A: I think the biggest issue now is the ability to be able to give flexibility to those five or six conferences, those equity conferences that want to do things that are being voted down. This has happened before, 30, 40 years ago, we were in crisis because everyone was voting on issues that pertained to Division I. Even Division III people. We finally went to divisions. Now we've got to go to a division within a division. Because everybody has fought to get into Division I and its diluted it. Most of these schools cannot afford to do what these equity schools need to do and can do. And one issue is that $2,000 cost of attendance. And I think that's got to happen.

Q: Who has the edge in the BCS Championship -- Auburn or Florida State?

A: Well, I think Florida State is better, physically. But (smiling and shaking his head) has Auburn got one more? They could have one more. If they've got two, they might as well have three.

Q: You've been working with Kennesaw State on starting their football program. How difficult a task is that?

A: It's been fun. You don't have any real set timetable. We did set one and we're a year behind, but it was fun to see the development of the program. It was entirely different from what I'd been used to at the highest level. Here it is at the beginning level. And to see all the details that need to be done. The good people at Kennesaw State, I've been there now four and a half years with them. We've got a fine athletic director, a fine football coach who played at Georgia and also has roots at Georgia Tech, Brian Bohannon, whose daddy was a very fine high school coach. So it's been a lot of fun, and I'm anxious to see it all come to fruition year after next.

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