Vince Dooley accomplished more for the Georgia football program than any other coach in Bulldogs history. Now, a group of former players is trying to make sure he is recognized for it.
In an effort headed by former Georgia defensive lineman Kevin Jackson as well as legendary running back Herschel Walker, Bulldog football alumni are backing the idea of naming the football field at Sanford Stadium after Dooley.
“We’ve got 450 Bulldog lettermen, led by Herschel Walker and myself,” Jackson said. “It’s just to honor the greatest coach of all time at the University of Georgia.”
It’s an effort Jackson has been actively pursuing for the last 10 years, and one he doesn’t see much downside.
“We’re not talking about changing the name of the stadium,” he added. “We’re talking about changing the name of the field. Sanford Stadium at Dooley Field.”
Dooley’s accolades he collected over a 25-year coaching career in Athens speak for themselves, in terms of his success. He won six SEC championships, as well as the national championship in 1980. He’s been inducted into the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame, the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame and the College Football Hall of Fame.
But Jackson said Dooley’s impact as a mentor to his players qualifies him for the honor just as much as his contributions to the program itself.
“He was an incredible leader,” Jackson said. “He changed so many lives of so many players. Everyone that ever played for him was highly affected.”
Jackson added that Dooley’s disciplinary style struck a chord with many players, teaching them lessons beyond improving their skill on the football field. Jackson pointed to former Georgia players such as himself — the CEO of Savannah-based EnviroVac — as well as former Masters chairman Billy Payne and Chris Welton, who played a major role in bringing the 1996 Olympics to Atlanta, as examples of the impact Dooley made on the members of his teams.
This year’s Georgia football season provides an easy opportunity for the school to announce a naming of its football field, as the Bulldogs will be meeting Notre Dame — the team Dooley beat in the 1980 national championship — in Athens for the first time in program history.
“Wouldn’t it be fitting to have this thing named after him, and do it at the Notre Dame game this year at halftime?” Jackson said.
Jackson’s proposal has the attention of at least a few other alumni. He said it’s an idea that Walker — Georgia’s all-time leader in rushing — is “125 percent behind.” Former Bulldogs linebacker David Pollack recently tweeted out an article about the movement, adding “Hard to argue against this article. Vince is the dang man!”
It’s a decision that, according to Jackson, should be essentially a no-brainer.
“(Dooley) is the most successful coach in the history of Georgia,” he said. “So if you’re ever going to name a field after somebody, why would you not name it after him?”