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Georgia-Missouri game to pose interesting dynamic for Dooley family

Legendary Georgia head coach Vince Dooley will be watching Saturday’s contest, as his son, Derek Dooley, calls plays as Missouri’s offensive coordinator.
Legendary Georgia head coach Vince Dooley will be watching Saturday’s contest, as his son, Derek Dooley, calls plays as Missouri’s offensive coordinator.

Derek Dooley will put his Georgia allegiances aside Saturday as he calls plays as Missouri’s offensive coordinator. But no worries, his dad won’t be.

Vince Dooley, the legendary Georgia head coach of 25 years, will be watching Saturday’s contest with his wife Barbara Dooley from their Athens home. When Derek was the head coach at Tennessee, the Dooleys wouldn’t attend the game even if it were at Sanford Stadium.

In this instance, distance is the only reason Vince and Barbara won’t be making the trip to Columbia, Mo. But as he keeps a keen eye on the game’s happenings, Vince will be rooting for the Bulldogs. He’s been tied to the program to 64 years, so why expect anything else?

“We are all hoping that he does well, but comes out on the short end of the stick,” Vince said.

For Barbara, however, we’ll see.

“She may pull for him all the way,” Vince said.

Vince and Barbara Dooley (2009) Woody Marshall The Telegraph

Derek ends up at Missouri after a five-season tenure as wide receivers’ coach with the Dallas Cowboys. He returned to college to replace Josh Heupel, who took a head coaching position at Central Florida in the offseason.

Consequently, Missouri has the seventh-best total offense nationally with an average of 589 yards per game and a plethora of weapons for quarterback Drew Lock — who leads the SEC in yardage and touchdowns. But it may be a re-implementation of a run game that highlights Derek’s success the most, according to Georgia head coach Kirby Smart.

The two know each other well, and it began in 1996 when Smart was a Bulldog defensive back and Derek was a graduate assistant under head coach Jim Donnan.

“He was probably one of our best coaches on our staff at the time, and he was just a player,” Derek said to Dave Matter with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “I always knew he’d have a great future in this profession. He’s obviously done a great job.”

Smart is lauded by other members of the Dooley family, too. Vince said Smart has done a “terrific” job and sees him having sustained success as the Bulldogs’ head coach due to his prowess on the recruiting trail. And obviously, Derek trusted Smart since his son, J.T. Dooley, is a walk-on receiver for the team.

That comes from being together on many other stops since 1996, as well.

“We worked together at Miami (Dolphins in 2006). We were at LSU (2004) at the same time,” Smart said. “I have a lot of respect for his dad, and Derek and I have always been good friends.”

After three occurrences of being together, they now engage in competition. While Smart was a coordinator at Alabama, the dynamic was similar while Derek was the Volunteers’ head coach.

J.T. will be in attendance Saturday, but will be a spectator as he’s not a contributor on the Bulldogs’ 70-man travel roster. He may be supportive of his dad while watching, but his desires echo that of Vince’s — a Georgia win.

Derek, in a seemingly obvious sense, is staying true to the black-and-gold he will wear Saturday. Missouri is his latest stop of many, but he didn’t even begin in the coaching profession. After playing wide receiver at Virginia 1987-90, he went to law school, received his degree and began practicing in Atlanta.

After being unhappy with the career choice, Derek has been with nine different collegiate and professional organizations. He even mimicked his father’s role for a season as athletic director and head coach at Louisiana Tech from 2008-10.

But now, he is devoted to the Tigers and working under head coach Barry Odom.

“I was a Kirby fan and a Georgia fan when I was at the Cowboys, but that’s not where I am now,” he said. “I’ve put a lot of hard work, sweat and tears with this coaching staff and with this team, and that’s where your heart is on game day.”

For Vince, when asked about his thoughts on the game, the 86-year-old with everlasting passion to the Bulldogs began to chuckle over the phone.

“More than likely (Derek) will be on the short end,” he said. “I see two different leagues of teams.”