COVINGTON - Legendary University of Georgia football coach Vince Dooley hasn't slowed down in retirement.
He has spent the last few years writing books, gardening, traveling, keeping up with 11 grandchildren and, yes, watching lots of football.
His favorite part of retirement? Meeting the people who flock to his public appearances to see a sports icon in person.
Dooley will be in downtown Covington doing just that from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday at Mayfield Hardware, where he will sign copies of his two new books and other memorabilia.
"I'm looking forward to coming over there. It's one of the things that I probably have enjoyed the most in retirement, being able to get out and meet people and spend a little time with them," Dooley said.
Dooley is promoting his second children's book following the adventures of Hairy Dawg, the mascot for the University of Georgia Bulldogs.
"Hairy Dawg's Journey Through the Peach State" has the mascot performing in an Athens nightclub, dancing in lederhosen in Helen and even snorkeling at the Georgia Aquarium.
"Fortunately, all the sharks are Bulldog fans," Dooley said.
Dooley is also celebrating the recent release of "Dooley's Playbook: The 34 Most Memorable Plays in Georgia Football History," which highlights the best plays at Sanford Stadium from its dedication in 1929 through the 2007 season.
Next, Dooley may branch out a little. He's considering writing a book on gardening.
"I've always been a busy person, and I knew when I retired I wouldn't be suddenly looking for something to do," he said.
Dooley said he tries to never miss a Bulldog home game and is also a regular at Louisiana Tech University games, where his son is head football coach and athletics director.
His office in Athens overlooks the Bulldog practice field.
"I keep up with the team closely but stay out of the way," he said.
As for whether a playoff system is in the future for college football, "I've always been in favor of what you call a plus one, of having a championship game after the bowl games. That would solve 85 to 90 percent of the problems we have," Dooley said.
Dooley was head football coach at Georgia for 25 years and athletic director for 15 years.
Dooley's football teams won 201 games and six Southeastern Conference titles during his tenure, along with a national championship in 1980.
The Bulldogs won a total of 23 national championships and 78 SEC crowns during Dooley's time as director of athletics.
Dooley was named national Coach of the Year in 1980. He was inducted in the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame in 1978 and the College Football Hall of Fame in 1994. In 2004 the U.S. Sports Academy presented Dooley with the Carl Maddox Sport Management Award, an award given annually to an individual for contribution to the growth and development of sports through management practices. Also, in 2004 Dooley was inducted into UGA's Circle of Honor, which is the school's highest tribute to former athletes and coaches. In September 2007, Dooley was given the Homer Rice Award, the highest honor given by the Division I-A Athletic Directors Association.
His latest honor is the dedication of the Vince Dooley Athletic Complex at The University of Georgia at 9:30 a.m. Nov. 29 prior to UGA's football game with Georgia Tech. The ceremony will be held in the Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall, and will be followed by a ribbon cutting and unveiling of a statue depicting Dooley being hoisted on the shoulders of players from his 1980 national championship team.
Crystal Tatum can be reached at email@example.com.