The Georgia Bulldogs post-season fate is on the line in Saturday afternoon’s SEC Championship Game in Atlanta: the Dogs take on the LSU Tigers, with a spot in the college football playoffs at stake. The game kicks at 4 o’clock in Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta, with television on CBS. The Bulldogs are 7-point underdogs to the undefeated Tigers. From John Frierson, UGA Sports Communications… All around Vince Dooley's study, there are plaques and paintings and other items from a life spent coaching, leading and learning. There's one honoring the former Georgia football coach and director of athletics' College Football Hall of Fame induction in 1994. There's one marking the start of the Dooley Distinguished Fellows program at UGA in 2018. There are, it seems, dozens more. The most abundant things in the large and comfortable room, already decorated for Christmas — Barbara Dooley has been busy on the Friday morning after Thanksgiving — are bulldogs. There are bulldogs all over the room, particularly in a pair of bookcases that are overflowing with them, as well as other Georgia knickknacks. The bulldogs range from life-sized Uga lookalikes to thimble-sized pieces. 'Somebody kept asking me, 'How many? How many?' So I had two of my grandsons over here and I said, 'You count this side and you count that side,' and there were close to 300 of them,' said Dooley, Georgia's head coach from 1964-1988 and director of athletics from 1979-2004. On Saturday, the beloved Bulldog, a Mobile, Ala., native and former Auburn player and assistant, will be recognized as a member of the 2019 SEC Legends class at the SEC Championship Game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. It's a fitting honor, one of so many that he's received over the years, for a Georgia legend in every sense of the word. During a post-Thanksgiving Quick Chat, Dooley talked about some other SEC legends, making Athens home for more than 50 years, what's happening in his garden and much more. Here's some of what he had to say: Frierson: Is there one thing in this room that means the most to you? Dooley: I hadn't thought about that, they're all special in some ways. Of course, the national championship. To have a team that's undefeated, undisputed national champions is special, because it's special to that bunch and special to Frank Ros, who was the captain — the best captain we've ever had. Not only during the season, but he's kept that group together. He's been a real leader with that group and they have remained very close. Frierson: What is a Thanksgiving like at the Dooley household these days? Dooley: Thanksgiving every year, we have been going out to the farm in Madison County. I've got about 300 acres out there and a lake, so I was envisioning spending time out there in retirement. I did for a while, cut paths and got to know the place, but what it has served now is, on two occasions each year, Barbara gets about 60 relatives, kin in some way, I'd say about 55 are hers and five are mine ... and every year we got out there for Thanksgiving lunch. And then we do it for Easter, so those are the two times we get out there. I keep saying this is the time I'm going to spend some more time out there, but I'll take a lap around (the property) and that's about it. Then I'll watch football games. Frierson: You're being recognized as one of the SEC Legends at the championship game. How does that feel? Dooley: I was involved in the start of that, and the idea was that it was supposed to be for the players. I think our first one might have been Billy Payne or Fran Tarkenton, and that was the idea, to recognize those type people. That's what we did for a long time, and all of a sudden they started recognizing coaches, so I think because somebody else was recognizing coaches they thought they ought to recognize me. It's a nice honor and it'll be good. Frierson: When you think about SEC legends in your lifetime, who immediately comes to mind? Besides Herschel Walker, of course. Dooley: Well, you'd have to go back to people you've never heard of [laughs], that was almost two generations ago now, when I was growing up. There was a fellow named Travis Tidwell, who was an Auburn freshman quarterback and I think he made All-American. As a youngster in high school, that was someone I remember. I remember Harry Gilmer, an Alabama All-American I used to listen to on the radio. I had a scrapbook with guys like Frank Sinkwich and Charley Trippi, like a lot of young kids I kept a scrapbook with the All-Americans in the SEC, so those were some of the ones from when I was younger. Then there were a lot of my own players: Terry Hoage is certainly one; Billy Payne, not only for what he did as a player but a player that has also continued to have a positive influence, he's definitely one of them; Herschel is definitely one of them. There are a lot of them out there. There were also coaches growing up, I had heroes: Bud Wilkinson, John Wooden, as a young coach I studied Coach (Shug) Jordan, who was my coach (at Auburn), but also Bear Bryant and Bobby Dodd. Anybody that's done well, and they all did it in different ways, in different styles, but you studied them and learned from them. And as you get older your heroes expand and I could throw Nelson Mandela in there and a lot of others. Frierson: When did you know that Athens was going to be home forever? Was there ever any thought post-retirement of going down to Florida somewhere or moving anywhere else? Dooley: No, no. My hometown of Mobile would have been the only one that I would have considered. I grew up around the water in my hometown, so I always liked the water because I grew up around it, and if I'd ever thought about retiring somewhere that would have been it. Certainly, I've had a lot of opportunities to move to other places but I would never let it be known because I didn't want my name associated with every job opening. The only two that I ever considered were Oklahoma before you were born, and that's because Bud Wilkinson called me and told me I ought to take a look. And the other was Auburn where I went to school. But by then I'd been here so long, all of my children were here — when I told Derek I was going over to interview, he started crying. He said, 'I hate Auburn, I'm not going to Auburn.' So it made me realize, they're all Georgia, and we'd been here 17 years. I thought about all the players I'd coached and I'd just been here too long. My roots were deeper (here) and more recent, so I said, this is where we are. Barbara has mixed in with Georgia people all over the state and here in Athens, so there's no better place than right here. Frierson: It's amazing how much Athens and the University of Georgia have grown and changed in your time here. Dooley: I've spent most of my life around a university, 12 years at Auburn and the rest here, and there are certain things that are great benefits of growing up around a university. That is another big reason that we didn't want to go anywhere. The only other town I thought would be nice is Madison (30 miles outside of Athens). I wish we were about 30 minutes closer to the (Atlanta) airport) — that's about the only thing I could say that keeps this from being 100-percent perfect. It's a great town. Frierson: Do you have anything special going on in your garden these days? Dooley: There's something happening all the time, so I've got a garden for all seasons. Whenever you go out there, something is going on. And we're just now on the back end of what has been a great fall color. I've got so many Japanese maples that over a six-week period have got incredible color — some that turned colors early, some after those start to fade, a medium, and then the last of the Mohicans now. Frierson: Speaking of changes, the view of your house from the road has changed dramatically over the years. You used to see a long stretch of lawn and then the house and now there are so many things growing out front that you can't see much of anything. Dooley: Well, I enjoy going out in the garden — it's my golf. I don't have to have a tee time, I can just go out and I enjoy working outside. It's a get-away in that respect, and I enjoy learning. I've always said, the great thing about living around a university is if you've got a curiosity about anything (there are resources available), and that's how I first got into it, because I knew nothing. I tell people I'm an inspiration for anybody that wants to be a gardener late in life, particularly anybody that wants to write a book about something they don't know anything about — I've written a book about gardening as well. Gardening is a learning process, which is a joy, and that's what's great about the university, and then it's good physically. I enjoy working in the yard and I do most of the work — I just get one of my nephews to come help me, that's all — and then it's good for the soul, so I enjoy it. There's a satisfaction when you see it done and you're always looking for another plant to plant somewhere. You're going to run out of space — there are all these things you plant and they look good then, but then they grow. Barbara will look around and say, 'It's a jungle out there! You've got to do something.' Frierson: When you watch football now, how much of it are you still watching through the eyes of a coach and how much of it can you just watch as a fan of the game? Dooley: Well, I can watch in three ways: I can watch as a fan, particularly when I'm watching Georgia; I can also watch as an athletic director, and I also watch as a football coach. So, three ways, and I find myself shifting from one to the other based on what's happening. That ballgame last night (the Ole Miss-Mississippi State Egg Bowl) was entertaining but then I thought about that guy that did that (the Ole Miss player that now-infamously drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after scoring late to cut State's lead to 21-20). You just can't tolerate that, so I found myself watching as an athletic director and a coach and a fan. It was good to see Ole Miss come back and make a great game out of it. When they scored I thought, this is going to be good, going to overtime. Then the guy pulls that, so I immediately become an athletic director and coach that wouldn't tolerate that, and I wouldn't. ... That's what got us into putting in this (no excessive celebration) rule, because it was getting worse and worse. I was chairman of the rules committee when all that was happening and I am very much against it.
The University of Georgia gets a federal grant: UGA says $7.4 million from the Federal Transit Administration will be used to buy 13 new electric buses. From Allison Brannen, UGA Today… The funding, along with UGA’s 30% matching share, will grow the university’s fleet to 33 electric buses, representing a tremendous step forward in reducing emissions and increasing opportunities for experiential learning and research. Twenty electric buses were purchased in April 2019 through a competitive grant from the Georgia State Road and Tollway Authority and are currently in production at the Proterra Inc. plant in Greenville, South Carolina. These buses will begin arriving on campus later this month and are anticipated to go into service this academic year, giving UGA one of the largest electric bus fleets of any university in North America. “The University of Georgia is continually seeking ways to increase the efficiency and sustainability of our campus operations,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “The purchase of additional electric buses with funds from the Federal Transit Administration will help us achieve these important institutional objectives.” Earlier this year, the university built an expandable state-of-the-art charging facility on Riverbend Road to prepare for the electric buses already scheduled to arrive on campus. With this infrastructure in place, the FTA grant funding will be used to purchase electric buses without the need for additional charging capacity. A fleet of 33 electric buses will significantly lower life-cycle costs for the university. The expected useful life of electric buses far exceeds the 12-year standard for diesel buses. Fuel costs will decrease by approximately 90%, and with no internal combustion engine or transmission, maintenance costs will be drastically reduced as well. Having a large fleet of electric buses on campus also creates opportunities for faculty and students to use field assets in their research and studies. UGA Auxiliary Services has partnered with the College of Engineering to work with four student teams as they complete capstone projects related to electric bus technology. Auxiliary Services also has partnered with the college on proposals for two transportation-related National Science Foundation grants. These projects have the potential to advance electric bus technology and improve lives through better transportation worldwide. “The positive benefits that come from receiving this grant are remarkable,” said Robert Holden, associate vice president for Auxiliary Services. “In addition to reducing costs and contributing to research, advancing electric bus technology on our campus will allow us to provide better, cleaner transportation for the community by significantly reducing the university’s greenhouse gas emissions.” The additional buses are anticipated to be purchased within the next year.
Retiring Georgia Supreme Court Justice Robert Benham, the first black judge to serve on the state’s highest court, has been chosen to deliver the University of Georgia’s annual Holmes-Hunter Lecture: the lecture, named in honor of the first two black students to attend UGA, is scheduled for February 3 in the Chapel on the University’s North Campus. From Hayley Major, UGA Today… After earning his Bachelor of Science from Tuskegee University in 1967, Benham became the second African American to graduate from the University of Georgia School of Law in 1970. In 1984, he was appointed to the Court of Appeals by Gov. Joe Frank Harris where he served for five years before being appointed to the Georgia Supreme Court in 1989. That same year, he earned his Master of Laws from the University of Virginia. In April, Benham announced he will be retiring from the bench at the end of his current term. “Justice Benham represents one of the greatest leaders in the legal profession,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “We are honored to welcome him back to campus for this important lecture.” A lifelong resident of Georgia, Benham holds memberships in multiple organizations state-wide and nationally, including the Lawyers’ Club of Atlanta, the American Society of Writers on Legal Subjects and the National Criminal Justice Association. He serves as president for the Society for Alternative Dispute Resolution, as a trustee of the Georgia Legal History Foundation, and as chairman of the Judicial Council and the Chief Justice’s Commission on Professionalism. In 2018, the UGA School of Law established the Benham Scholars Program to foster diversity in the legal profession, named in honor of Justice Benham.