ATHENS — Kirby Smart admitted to chickening out. He wanted to change up his attire to honor legendary coach Vince Dooley for the game against Georgia Tech.
But he knew his players would call him out for wearing an alternate uniform while he coached, as Georgia has not worn an alternate since the Peach Bowl win over Cincinnati at the end of the 2020 season.
So Smart instead threw on a black sweater and a game-worn Dooley tie for his post-game press conference.
“I told Derek (Dooley) if I could, and he and Mrs. Barbara (Dooley) were like ‘Oh, we’d be honored.” She had his tie, and this is the tie he wore to so many games,” Smart said. “Derek gave it to me. I probably didn’t do the shirt and sweater justice that he does, I honored him with no visor. He did it right for a long time. He did so much for this community. It’s just a small token of my appreciation for all the things he did at Georgia.”
Dooley passed away prior to Georgia’s game against Florida. The Bulldogs have had a patch on their uniform to honor the legendary Georgia coach and athletic director. The school held a celebration of life on Friday, where Smart and Georgia governor Brian Kemp both spoke about Dooley’s impact.
While Smart picked up another win on Saturday — beating rival Georgia Tech 37-14 — he still lags behind Dooley in career wins at Georgia.
Smart also acknowledged the massive role Dooley had in shaping the University of Georgia. He worked at the school from 1964, when he started as the program’s head coach, through 2004, when he stepped down as athletic director. In his later years he was still a fixture in and around the Georgia program.
In between, he led Georgia to multiple SEC championships and a national title in 1980. Smart won his first national championship last season and can add another SEC title next week with a win over LSU.
“Honor and dignity that he represented this place with,” Smart said on what he learned from Dooley. “I always want to leave it better than you found it and he did that to a degree that’s unmatched. He came in when this place was really down and he really put this place on the map and laid a foundation for all of us coaches that have followed him. H
“He did it with class and dignity and he always won with that and he always lost with that. He always represented the University of Georgia the right way, just such a kind, knowledgeable man.”
Georgia’s performance against Georgia Tech was a throwback to the Dooley days, as the Bulldogs ran for 264 yards while holding Georgia Tech to just 14 points. The win moved Georgia to 12-0 on the season. It was also the 46th win for the senior class, moving them to a 46-5 record in their time at Georgia. That is the most wins by a senior class in program history.
Smart told reporters after that the tie would go back to the Dooley family and that Smart had no intention in keeping the game-worn garment.
“I don’t know what they’ll do with it,” Smart said. “This tie has a lot of victories under its belt, I know that. He won a lot of football games.”
Georgia coach Kirby Smart honors Vince Dooley with postgame outfit
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