Former University of Georgia football coach Vince Dooley has been an important part of the school’s history and legacy for more than 50 years.
He coached the Bulldogs to their last national championship in 1980, defeating Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl.
We visited Dooley at his Athens home to see some of his favorite memorabilia from that season.
Rickey Bevington: Can you show me your favorite piece of memorabilia from the 1980 season when you won the national championship?
Vince Dooley: Well, actually there are so many. But I look up and see something that reminds me of it. It’s a painting that someone gave me which depicts the Super Dome, also Bourbon Street and Buck Belue the [University of Georgia] quarterback handing a ball off to [running back] Herschel Walker. And more importantly some lineman that are blocking against a very stout Notre Dame defense.
Bevington: You were at the Rose Bowl victory over Oklahoma just a couple of days ago. What is one thing that the Bulldogs need to do differently to beat Alabama?
Dooley: I think that will take care of itself and that is to be ready to play. I don't think we were quite ready because we had this long layoff and we didn't get the tempo of Oklahoma's offense. I mean it looked like it was going to be just a runaway. Every time they got that ball they scored. But we got conditioned to it. I think we'll see a totally different ballgame with Alabama. I think you're going to see more of a close-up, head-knocking game as opposed to the wild game we just experienced in the Rose Bowl.
Bevington: What's another piece of memorabilia from your coaching career that you'd like to talk about?
Dooley: I see the Olympics over there. That’s Billy Payne passing me the torch. That was very special because I ran the torch through the [University of Georgia] campus. And there’s [a painting of] Hershel going over the top in the Notre Dame game which also was an interesting story because Herschel actually dislocated his shoulder on the second play of the of the [Sugar Bowl]. But he's so mentally tough and physically tough that put his shoulder back in he went back in a ball ballgame gained 150 yards against a really stout Notre Dame defense. I didn't know until later that he was protecting his shoulder so when he went over to roll he rolled differently than how he normally rolls.
Bevington: Was this the winning touchdown?
Dooley: Well it was one of the touchdowns. We scored early. He scored twice -- Herschel did. We had another call player – I call him the Herschel Walker of defense - Scott Warner. He ended up intercepting two passes and knocking down a lot of plays defensively. So we were a complete team offensively defensively and it showed up in that ballgame.
Bevington: Thanks to the Brown Media Archive at the University of Georgia, we were able to pull some audio of you being interviewed right before the Sugar Bowl January 1, 1981. Here you are talking about the strategy - the battle cry - for how the Bulldogs were going to win:
1980 TELEVISION INTERVIEW - DOOLEY: What we're saying is just “somehow, someway, one more time.” That’s the way it’s sort of been this season because there’s been so many games that we somehow won. That's what we need this time: “somehow, someway, one more time.” REPORTER: And that's the battle cry? DOOLEY: That's it. One more time. Somehow, someway.
Dooley: Well that certainly would be the battle cry this game. Look at the Rose Bowl game as an example of “somehow, some way, one more time.” Early on, Oklahoma was dominating in the bowl game and we came back in the second half and tied it up. We really had the momentum after being way down but then we had a bad break and Oklahoma scored. But we responded, went back down the field and tied it up and then went into overtime. And then we were able to block a field goal which gave us the momentum and then we scored a touchdown to win the bowl game. So “somehow, some way, one more time” was certainly the theme in 1980 and it should be the theme in the ballgame against Alabama.
Bevington: We just need one more win.
Dooley: One more time!
Bevington: Herschel Walker was your star running back in 1980 when you won the national championship. Are current running backs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel this season’s Herschel Walker?
Dooley: Well, yeah. Those two guys have really been amazing. Chubb probably has more of Herschel in that he’s so strong around the hips he's hard to tackle. Michel has this burst and they are a great complement to each other because they're different style runners. When they get in I think it is an advantage and causes some confusion to the defense. Herschel, on the other hand, probably has more speed than those two guys.
Bevington: Do you have a piece of memorabilia of James Brown's 1975 song Dooley's Junkyard Dogs.
Dooley: I don't have it displayed. I'm trying to think. In fact, there’s a record. Have you ever heard it?
Bevington: I have.
Dooley: I've got some 45’s stashed somewhere up in the attic. I've told this story so often about the way Brown recorded that song. He just looked at the lyrics for the first time and started reading it and then his body started shaking. The band - who knew him so well - kind of started playing based on his body movements. And all of a sudden they struck it out and he started recording the song which was amazing to me.
Bevington: It's pretty exciting to have an international superstar sing a song about you and your football team.
Dooley: He came to several games. He would get up on a platform and perform in front of the students and you can imagine how the students just went wild. He would dance around and do that classic split that he could do and shake. He was quite an individual.
Bevington: You not only have a lot of artwork and books here in your wonderful library which is really a museum to the Georgia Bulldogs and Georgia history as well. You have a lot of sculptures as well. Tell me about this bronze here.
Dooley: Well that's a miniature of the one that is up on the UGA campus. It’s of two players [holding Dooley on their shoulders]. This was actually after the Georgia Tech game right before the Sugar Bowl of the national championship game. Back in those days they would carry the coaches off the field on their shoulders. Today they pour Gatorade on them. So I'm glad I came along when I did.
Probably more important is what’s right behind it – a copy of The Atlanta Journal after the bowl game the next day. It reads “Unbeaten, untied, and unbelievable! Georgia's numbers impeccable at 12-o and No. 1.” Right at that moment there's a picture of [senior classman] Frank Ross hugging me and I'm hugging him because as a seconds tick down and we had won the national championship that was a very very very special moment.
Bevington: Vince Dooley thank you for inviting us into your home library it's been such an honor.
Dooley: Well there's a lot more things to see. People always ask me about bulldogs. Somebody asked me how many do I have. I had two of my grandsons and I asked them to start counting. They got to 310. So there's a lot of bulldogs around us.
Below is a video of some of Vince Dooley's collection of bulldogs and other football memorabilia.