Latest book helps keep UGA’s Vince Dooley upbeat amid coronavirus outbreak

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Vince Dooley was in a chipper mood on Friday. Georgia’s retired Hall of Fame football coach and athletic director was finally going to receive his books.

Many folks are aware that Dooley is the author of many books. However, few may realize that he has a written a new one. To be accurate, he has added a few chapters to an old one.

Dooley revised “Dooley’s Playbook: The 34 Most Memorable Plays in Georgia Football” to include some of the great plays made during the Kirby Smart era. It was first published in 2009.

The new subtitle is, "34 and More of Georgia Football's Most Memorable Plays."

"It's arriving this afternoon," Dooley said in a telephone interview Friday from his longtime Athens residence on Milledge Circle. "It's been revised to include Kirby's era, so it includes (Terry) Godwin's catch against Notre Dame, which was incredible, D'Andre Swift's run against Auburn for the SEC Championship, and Sony Michel's game-winning run in the Rose Bowl."

Dooley said his latest work was supposed to have arrived for distribution in late-January or early-February. But, like seemingly everything, it was delayed because of travel and shipping restrictions caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

“It was at a printer in China so, with all that’s going on, it was delayed in getting here,” Dooley said. “So, we’ve been sweating it out a little. We weren’t sure when it might come in. The good news is they’re all in and they’ll be coming down the driveway this afternoon.”

In the book, Dooley said he goes into detail about what he believes has been an overlooked aspect of the Rose Bowl play that lifted Georgia to an exhilarating, double-overtime win over Oklahoma in the semifinals of the 2017 NCAA playoffs. That would be the key block by quarterback Jake Fromm.

“He gets credit for so many things, but he didn’t get as much credit as he deserved for his block on that play,” Dooley said. “It was big. He looked like a professional who had been blocking all his life. He did one heck of a job staying with his guy.”

Dooley said he also writes extensively about Nick Chubb and Rodrigo Blankenship and provides some insights on Smart in the book. Illustrated by renowned Georgia painter Steve Penley, the new book also includes a copy of a just-released Penley portrayal of the Rose Bowl-winning play.

Dooley, 87, has written and co-written 20 books over the years, and not all of them about football. He has also written a book about the Civil War (“The Legion’s Fighting Bulldog”) and several on gardening.

But mostly he has written about football. Dooley is UGA’s all-time winningest coach with a record of 201-77-10 from 1964-88 and he led the Bulldogs to one of the school’s two consensus national championships. Georgia also won the majority of its national championships in other sports during his tenure as athletic director from 1979 to 2004.

Both Dooley and his wife Barbara have stayed busy in retirement. In addition to writing books, Dooley remains a popular speaker and enjoys celebrity status in the South. His inability to honor several commitments in observance of the national self-quarantine recommendation is his greatest disappointment at the moment.

“I’ve had to call off some things,” Dooley said. “It wasn’t so bad for me, but I felt bad for the people who had arranged these things and done all these things.”

Dooley, along with some former Georgia players, was supposed to ride on a float commemorating the naming of Dooley Field in Savannah’s St. Patrick’s Day parade earlier this month. He was also supposed to speak to the Hibernian Society while visiting there, in addition to several book-signing appearances.

Dooley said such cancellations are small sacrifices in this time of worldwide crisis.

“We’ll push through this eventually,” Dooley said. “We’ve never had a crisis like this because of it involves the whole world. It’s turned upside down. But we’ve all had individual crises in our lives — I’ve certainly had my share — and it’s been inspiring to see how people have responded. In particular, the first-responders that are out there in the trenches. That’s where the games are won. They’re the ones paying the price and putting their lives on the line, and they’ll help us beat this crisis.”

Dooley said he, Barbara and their family have remained unscathed by the virus so far. They did get to follow through with plans for their 60th wedding anniversary on March 19th. They visited Little St. Simons Island as guests of the island’s owners, Henry Paulson Jr., the former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury and the former CEO of Goldman Sachs, and his wife, Wendy.

“It is a place that I had never been, a beautiful, environmentally-preserved place,” Dooley said. “Seven miles of beautiful beach and thousands of birds and all kinds of interesting plants and things. (The Paulsons) own the whole island and will to keep it in conservation so it will never be developed.”

Just one of many things that has kept Dooley feeling positive.

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