Georgia's Dooley talks horticulture, football with fans

From gridiron to garden

Vince Dooley can see the parallels between football and gardening.


There's a new crop each year, and each person and plant requires different care. Mostly, though, it's about learning.

The retired University of Georgia football coach and athletic director visited Augusta on Thursday, and addressed both topics. He spent the afternoon signing books and memorabilia, including copies of his new book Vince Dooley's Garden: A Horticultural Journey of a Football Coach .

"When I first started out I didn't know anything about gardening. I'd line them up in a T formation, the wishbone, I tried everything," he said with a laugh. "It's been fun and I enjoy learning."

A steady stream of fans lined up to meet Dooley at Sacred Heart Cultural Center. The gardening book, with illustrations by Steve Penley, was a crowd favorite.

"I just like his beautiful hydrangeas that I've seen before," Lois Kendall of Augusta said. "I just wanted to learn about them and bought this book for a friend."

Gardening talk turned to football talk Thursday night as hundreds of Bulldog fans turned out for the season kickoff event, which featured a tribute to Dooley.

Scott Edwards, the president of the Greater Augusta Bulldog Club, said it was appropriate to honor Dooley after previous tributes to Loran Smith, Claude Felton and Dan Magill.

"We felt like this was one of the guys we needed to honor because he means so much to us," Edwards said.

A proclamation from the city was given to Dooley, and his wife, Barbara, accompanied him on the trip. The 77-year-old Dooley, who retired as coach in 1988 and athletic director in 2004, said he has always had a thirst for knowledge.

"I was always curious about plants and trees, so I thought I'd take a course," he said. "I didn't know I was going to be bit by a bug, and there's no cure for the infection."

With the help of UGA professors Michael Dirr and Allan Armitage, Dooley produced the book on gardening. His "great journey," as he calls it, includes the people he's met and places he's visited while learning about plants. He also singled out Ted Stephens, the founder of Nurseries Caroliniana in North Augusta, in his book.

Whether it's football or gardening, one thing is clear: Dooley knows his subject.

"He's a good gardener, there's no doubt about it," Edwards said. "He's multitalented."

Dooley's thoughts

- "I've known Greg since he was 5 years old. He's the right man at the right time. He will do a good job. The morale has just gone sky high." -- On new Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity

- "What a shame, what a shame. A perfect storm at the worst possible place. The guy's got so much talent. But he'll bounce back. It'll take him a while." -- On former athletic director Damon Evans

- "They've got these high-tech cameras, I don't care where you are, they'll find you. But they're not going to find me. I'm going to be in my den watching the game. I'll be pulling for my son. I'm not going to go pull for my son in Sanford Stadium. Family first." -- On Georgia facing Tennessee, who is coached by his son Derek Dooley

- "I like our team. We were picked No. 2 (in SEC East) and I think that's right. Pretty solid football team." -- On the season outlook for Georgia

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Wed, 11/22/2017 - 18:34