Bill King wants to discuss Vince Dooley’s legacy. I hate to be that guy, because I’m genuinely happy the man is receiving an honor he appreciates, it’s driven by a bunch of his former players who pushed hard for the recognition and it’s a genuine slap in the face of Michael Adams. Those are all good things in my book.
That being said, when you give me a header like “Vince Dooley’s legacy at UGA is one that fans of all ages should embrace”, my internal contrarian bristles. His story is more complicated than that simple one-liner. Dooley’s record as a head coach deserves commendation. He resurrected a program that was in the dumps. His career records of 200 wins, six SEC championships and a natty are nothing to be sneered at; in fact, given the school’s track record, they’re very much worthy of applause.
It’s his tenure as athletic director that’s less embraceable, if you ask me. Dooley is the man who originally built the Butts-Mehre template we fondly refer to here as the Georgia Way. His hiring/firing track record was mediocre at best (which still makes it a step up from McGarity’s, true) and at worst, was bad enough to have a significant portion of the fan base calling for his head repeatedly throughout the last five years of the nineties.
We’ve thoroughly re-hashed the events surrounding the debacle that led to the hire of Ray Goff as Dooley’s successor. Whatever your version of that time may be, there’s little argument that Dooley left no strategy or framework in place to guide the athletic department in the wake of his departure, mainly because he wasn’t fully convinced he wanted to run for political office and wanted to leave an escape hatch open for his return in the event he bailed on that.
There are also the academic scandal bookends that framed his tenure, personified by Jan Kemp and Jim Harrick, Jr. Remarkably, King finds the way Adams and Dooley cut the basketball players loose, despite that most of them had nothing to do with what the coaches did, to be something admirable. That nobody on the administrative side paid any sort of a price for the Harricks’ misbehavior was shameful, if not particularly surprising. I don’t find any of that worthy of celebration.
To each his own, I suppose. I’ll certainly stand and applaud Coach Dooley when he receives this honor at the first home game. I’m just not going to whitewash his resume. If you’re mileage varies, I understand.