LISTEN: Dooley “woulda jumped the Chattahoochee” to be Auburn coach

vincedooleyMOBILE, AL (WNSP) — Vince Dooley, former Auburn quarterback and Georgia legend, sat down with the Opening Kickoff guys to talk about his high school days, playing and coaching at Auburn University and his job security at Georgia.

Dooley, a McGill-Toolen alum, said the football team almost as good when he played as the team is now.

“We lost one game our senior year,” he said. “It was Moss Point, it was really good. We went over and we beat Panama City (Florida) in Panama City. They hadn’t lost a home game in five years, so it was a big win.

“That game also had some other social significance. Because we were a Catholic school, they burned a cross at halftime. Then, there was a big fight after the game. We had to get on the bus and they stormed us out of town, but we left with a victory so it was a great Friday night.”

Panama City got its revenge the next year, though. In 1950 the Yellow Jackets lost 18-13, and they went 1-7-1 just one year after going 9-1.

Dooley said that after his time playing for Shug Jordan at Auburn, he had many options. He said he chose coaching on a whim.

“When I went to Auburn, I wasn’t going to take education, I was going to take business,” he said. “I figured there wasn’t much security in coaching, wasn’t much money, so I tried my best maybe not to coach. I finished in business administration, and also was commissioned that morning in the Marine Corps. I spent two years in the Marine Corps.

“I did play and coach alternating years in the Marine Corps. Then I had an offer, when it was time for me to make a decision, to either stay in the Marine Corps, go back to Mobile where I was offered a job with Merchants Bank with my business degree, or to come to Auburn as a young assistant. It was too good to turn down.

“I thought, ‘well, I’ll give it a try and see what happens.’ That’s what happened.”

Dooley said he “missed” the chance to coach at a high school, but he did make up for it.

“In order to compensate for that, I was with the varsity the first five years,” the Mobile native said. “That team won the national championship in ’57, they were undefeated in ’58, and I was the quarterback coach. Then after five years, I felt like what I really needed was some broad experience that would be given in high school that I never had.

“Back in those days, we had freshman teams. I asked coach Jordan if I could coach the freshman team. A lot of people thought that was a demotion, but in my mind it was the experience that I needed running a team.”

Dooley said when it was time to move up to a head coaching job, he “only considered two (schools) the whole 25 years that (he) coached.”

“After my second year, I had an opportunity to go to Oklahoma,” Dooley said. “Bud Wilkerson had called me and recommended me, and thought I should come out. I wasn’t even going, because I had just got started at Georgia. In any event, I went out and there was a great outcry to keep me at Georgia.

Dooley said he nearly went to Oklahoma, but in retaliation, Georgia upped his compensation. From then on, he didn’t “want (his) name out there every time a job came open.”

“So, the only one I ever considered of course was Auburn, my alma mater,” Dooley said. “The governor was Fob James, and there was a lot of emotional pull for Auburn—I went to school there, that’s where we met. But in my analysis, I had been at Georgia too long—17 years.

“All of my children grew up here, so my roots were more recent and even deeper. If I had been at Georgia four or five years, I woulda jumped the Chattahoochee to come back.”

Dooley never forgot his roots, though. Halfway through the interview, he praised his first alma mater.

“The team is back at it again, eh?” he said. “Congratulations to McGill Toolen.”

Listen to the full interview below.

For more, check out Opening Kickoff with Mark and Lee every weekday morning from 6 to 9 a.m.