In the summer of 1999, Vince Dooley’s post-coaching life was, ahem, in full flower. At 66, he was the athletic director of a Georgia program that had finished among the top 10 in national all-sports standings the past two years. The football team had just gone 10-2 and 9-3 under Jim Donnan, whom Dooley hired on Christmas Day 1995 after Glen Mason reneged. And Dooley had this garden.
Five years later, Dooley was out as AD, having been pushed aside by president Michael Adams. The Dooley-Adams feud became a public feud, with Dooley’s many defenders — his wife included — lining up to lambaste Adams. Dooley’s last day as athletic director was June 30, 2004. The Bulldogs had just finished fifth nationally in the all-sports standings.
Dooley is 85. He still lives on Milledge Circle in the house he first occupied in 1963, when arrived in Athens to coach Georgia’s football team. He’s the chair of the Georgia Historical Society and a writer of some renown. Barely a month passes without him holding a book signing. Not every publication concerns Georgia football. There’s one about the Civil War, and there’s one about his famous garden, which — on this correspondent’s last guided tour — seemed lusher than ever.