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‘Derek’s dad’ at Kroger
SEC coaching legend, wife, sign books in Farragut

A highly respected college sports coach, a Notre Dame fan growing up who loved basketball above all sports, signed autographed copies of his books in Farragut Saturday afternoon.

No, not Digger Phelps.

It was “Derek’s dad,” as some younger Tennessee Volunteer fans may label Vince Dooley — College Football Hall of Fame head coach at Georgia (1964-88) — who signed copies of various books he’s authored alongside wife and fellow author, Barbara Dooley, Dec. 18, in Kroger Marketplace.

Parents of UT head football coach Derek Dooley, the couple also signed UGA jerseys, hats and even a walker bought just minutes before down the road during a three-hour event with scores of young and old thrilled to meet Georgia sports royalty.

“I grew up a Notre Dame fan when I was in grammar school, high school,” Vince said, adding that as an all-state high school basketball player in Alabama during the late 1940s, “I really wanted to play basketball somewhere.”

As an Auburn Tiger, “I was a starter in football [defensive back] and basketball as a sophomore, but I tore my knee up in football,” added Dooley, whose most popular book at the signing was “My 40 Years at Georgia.”

“When I went back out for my junior year in basketball, I tore it up again. I gave up basketball.”

Admitting there’s “a little concern” that Derek won’t get enough time to properly develop the UT program before impatient Vols fans start grumbling, Vince added, “There’s less patience than ever before.”

However, “There seems to be a general confidence in him,” Vince added about his youngest son. “Of course, we would be very proud if he’s here a long time.”

Derek “got off to a good start in the way the team finished,” Vince said about UT’s final 6-6 regular season record.

About his son’s heartbreaking 16-14 loss to LSU in 2010 — where UT players, and Derek, celebrated an apparent 14-10 win before discovering the Vols had 13 men on the field when stopping the Tigers at the end — Vince said he’s never experienced “such a high and low in a short period of time.

“But what is just as tough for me is to watch my son coach because I’m helpless, I can’t do anything about it,” Vince added.

Recalling his first football game against UT as a coach, coming in 1968 at Neyland Stadium in what became the first-ever SEC game played on an artificial surface, Vince said he and UGA brass were concerned about the new surface.

“The person that was very, very much against it was the [UGA] athletic director, Joel Eaves,” said Vince, who captured one national title and six SEC crowns in 25 years coaching the Bulldogs.

About adjusting to the turf for this season-opener, “We flew up, I think it was Minneapolis that had some turf up there, and three or four of my coaches worked out on it,” he said. “That’s all we knew about it.”

Georgia players’ only workout on artificial turf prior to the game was the day before, a Friday, in Neyland Stadium, Vince said.

The game ended in a 17-17 tie.

With newfound consciousness about “Vol Nation,” Vince said, “I didn’t know there’s so many Tennessee people in Georgia, everywhere I go. It’s been fun to learn more about the history and tradition of Tennessee.”


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