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College Football: Dooley talks pigskin, plants
Former UGA coach speaks to local Rotary Clubs
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Former University of Georgia football coach Vince Dooley speaks to a joint meeting of Forsyth County Rotary Clubs on Monday at Johns Creek Baptist Church in Johns Creek. - photo by Jared Putnam

JOHNS CREEK — Vince Dooley gets "in a pickle" during the fall.

With his son, Derek Dooley, the head football coach at the University of Tennessee, Vince Dooley finds cheering for his beloved Georgia Bulldogs a little harder these days.

The former University of Georgia head football coach spoke about everything from his complicated football allegiances to his love of gardening during a joint meeting of Forsyth County Rotary Clubs on Monday at Johns Creek Baptist Church.

"It’s tough when Georgia plays Tennessee," Dooley said. "I can’t cheer for either team because I want to stay married. I always stay at home and watch it on TV so that way the camera crew can’t find me.

"If Georgia is out of town, I’ll go up to Tennessee. If Tennessee is out of town, I’ll go to Georgia. I really try to split it up. I won’t let [my wife] Barbara wear any orange until we cross the state line."

Dooley coached at Georgia from 1964-1988 and was the athletic director from 1979-2004. Under his leadership, Georgia won six SEC championships and the 1980 national championship. He was also named national coach of the year in 1980 and 1982.

Even though Dooley ranks 23rd in all-time Division I wins with 201, he doesn’t offer much coaching advice to his son. The only time Dooley will offer his opinion is when it’s requested.

"If he asks, I’ll tell him what I think," Dooley said. "I don’t volunteer too much information. Some of it is about X’s and O’s, but most of it is about things other than X’s and O’s, like philosophy.

"He’ll sometimes ask what I think about a decision or something, but I try to stay out of the way, just like I try to stay out of the way at Georgia."

Barbara Dooley shares the family’s appetite for football. She regularly has speaking engagements and had a weekly segment on the Paul Finebaum radio show until last year. She no longer is on the radio show after her son asked her to stop because it hurt recruiting.

"She doesn’t have a filter, and that’s great for radio," Vince Dooley said. "She’s liable to say anything, so we had to get her off of that. My son’s coaching, so we can’t have a mama that’s speaking too much."

Dooley isn’t totally away from football. He currently acts as an advisor for the Kennesaw State football team, which intends to begin play in 2014.

"The South is different than northeastern states," Dooley said. "We have a hunger for football. The weather may have something to do with it. Some schools are dropping [football] up north, but we’re adding on. I think greatness encourages greatness, and that’s why I think more schools are adding football down here."

With Dooley’s coaching career in the rearview, gardening takes up most of his time these days.

The former coach enjoys gardening so much that the University of Georgia department of horticulture named a rose after him. Dooley also said he has developed a hydrangea to withstand an early spring freeze.

"I’ve been gardening for 20 years," Dooley said. "I’ve always said that if I can garden, anyone can. I tell people yard work is my golf.

"The people in Athens know me for football and my garden."