Barbara Dooley on son Derek: ‘That’s my baby and I’m pulling for Tennessee’

Barbara Dooley, pictured with her husband of 52 years, Vince Dooley, makes no bones about it. She will be wearing orange and pulling for the Tennessee Volunteers Saturday at Sanford Stadium. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

Barbara Dooley, pictured with her husband of 52 years, Vince Dooley, makes no bones about it. She will be wearing orange and pulling for the Tennessee Volunteers Saturday at Sanford Stadium. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

ATHENS – Make no mistake about it. There are no split allegiances or conflicted emotions for Barbara Dooley. The longtime First Lady of Georgia Athletics will be decked head-to-toe in orange on Saturday and rooting for the Tennessee Vols.

More specifically, she’ll be pulling for her youngest son, Derek Dooley, who at this moment happens to be Vols’ head football coach, and a beleaguered one at that.

“I’ve never been conflicted about it,” said Barbara, Vince Dooley’s wife of 52 years and Derek’s mom of 44.  “That’s my baby and I’m pulling for Tennessee. If the Georgia people don’t understand that then I just don’t get it.”

At this point, most of them get it. This is, after all, now old hat for the Dooleys. Derek is in his third  season as Tennessee’s coach. So they’ve done the road trip to Knoxville and, after Saturday, will have twice endured the awkwardness of seeing their son on the opposing sideline at Sanford Stadium. They’ve developed sort of a routine for dealing with it.

Vince, the Bulldogs’ head coach and athletic director for a total of 41 years, won’t come anywhere near Sanford Stadium on Saturday. He’ll watch the game on the television in their Milledge Circle home, where he can twist and kick and cringe in private. And Barbara will dress in resplendent orange and go to the game like always. She said she’ll sit in the same UGA press box suite she has for a half-century.

“It’ll be my routine Saturday of entertaining and getting to the game,” Barbara said. “We’ve got a house full of company. I plan on eating, making people happy, then going to the game and sitting in the middle of a bunch of Georgia people. like always.”

As for her husband, she said, “I can understand how Vincent really and truly can’t go into that stadium that he worked in for so many years. It’s such a part of his life. He can’t just go sit in there. Plus, he could never have any privacy and just watch the game.”

As for her son, these are difficult times for him. The heat has been turned up in Knoxville, where he’s 14-15 overall and 3-1 this season. At issue is Derek’s record against ranked opponents. He’s 0-11 coming into the Georgia game. The Bulldogs are, of course, ranked No. 5.

“I don’t have any illusions of grandeur,” Barbara said of Saturday’s matchup. “I just hope Tennessee plays the very, very best they can play. Then we’ll see what happens.”

It’s not likely to get better for Derek if the Vols don’t start winning big games such as this Saturday. He inherited a tough situation, following the failed one-year experiment that was Lane Kiffin. But patience is not generally equated with modern-day college football.

“I think Derek went to Tennessee and the cupboard was really bare. It was bare, bare,” Barbara said. “So I think he’s done a really good job of recruiting his own players in there. But it’s just going to take time. I hope the fans realize you can’t snap your finger and do it. They look at [Nick] Saban, who had tremendous success at LSU and tremendous success at Alabama, but the cupboards were full there. They just needed somebody to point them in the right direction. This is a whole different situation and I think the Tennessee people realize it.”

Barbara also thinks the Vols have been a bit unlucky. She referred to last year’s game in which quarterback Tyler Bray broke his thumb on the helmet of Georgia linebacker Christian Robinson. She became friends with Robinson as they both rehabbed injuries in the Georgia football training room.

“I’m telling Christian Robinson right now to keep his hands and his head to himself,” she cracked. “He killed our season.”

Barbara was asked if she was concerned about her son’s job security.

“Of course I’m worried,” she said. “I was worried when Vince was coaching. Are you kidding?”

She reeled off stories of Georgia fans hanging Vince in effigy, having an airplane drop “Dump Dooley” fliers all over Athens and coming home from vacation to find a for-sale sign in the front yard.

“Come on, I’ve been there,” she said with a laugh. “I got sick from it. Literally I was a nervous wreck. But we knew it was like that when we took the job. I remember Vince saying, ‘just keep a suitcase ready because we never know when they’re going to throw us out of here.’ So I didn’t clean the house for 25 years. I kept thinking we were going to move.”

Alas, they never did. She hopes Derek can stay put as well.

224 comments Add your comment

dean

September 27th, 2012
2:04 pm

Thanks Chip. Mrs. Dooley is a momma first. Just as it should be.

GeoffDawg

September 27th, 2012
2:06 pm

If Barbara really wanted to support her son, she’d make him get rid of those orange pants.

CL

September 27th, 2012
2:06 pm

UT will lose, sorry

da' rick

September 27th, 2012
2:09 pm

what a skank.

SC Old Dawg

September 27th, 2012
2:10 pm

You just have to love Barbara and Vince – just great people.

No Beans Just Grits and Gravy

September 27th, 2012
2:13 pm

Nothing like a TRUE MOTHER’S love. It can even make you a trader to the man paying your bills all your life.

da' rick

September 27th, 2012
2:15 pm

jump off a bridge bubba

oHm

September 27th, 2012
2:15 pm

UGA can’t win. UT has the best coach in America according to Babs.

CHDawg

September 27th, 2012
2:17 pm

Pretty funny! We better look out. TN has a chip on their shoulder because we are 5, and they aren’t ranked. They also have a lot of kids from Georgia. Some probably feel like they got the cold shoulder from Athens and have something to prove. At the very least, they want to win in front of their friends and family. TN was ahead of Florida late in the third qtr. This is a perfect setup for an upset over the Dawgs. Let’s hope we can come out strong and ready, and get stronger! Go Dawgs.

ZinoDawg

September 27th, 2012
2:17 pm

A parent should always put their kid first. And please remove that inexcusable comment from da’rick.

GATA!

7576DAWG

September 27th, 2012
2:19 pm

The bad thing about Derek’s situation is he may lose 6 games this year and get fired where nobody else could have done better. Then next year the next Head Coach come in and wins 10 or 12 games only because Derek did such a great job recruiting the last three years which includes 2013 class. It will be a shame if someone else gets credit for what he did.
Same thing happened at Georgia when we hired Grantham. It has taken 3 complete years for HIS recruits to make an impact.
No matter what Tennessee’s record end up this year I hope he will be given at least one more year. Next year will be the year to really judge how good Derek is as a head coach.

bob

September 27th, 2012
2:21 pm

A “trader.” Really?? We are on a University’s blog, talking about the UNIVERSITY of Georgia, and we have people on here that don’t know how to spell the word traitor? English 1101 at UGA? Go get on the Atlanta Falcons blog.

Chip Towers

September 27th, 2012
2:23 pm

Bubba J: I’ve never banned you or anyone else for correcting spelling errors. However, I will ban folks for using multiple names, using expletives, being vulgar or just plain mean and antagonistic toward others on the board. You’ve used a few different ones, so be warned. But be kind and courteous and respectful of others and you should be fine. Thanks for posting.

MarkRichtHasGirlHips

September 27th, 2012
2:26 pm

Babs has it right. Vols rule! Rocky Top Baby!!!

bubba king

September 27th, 2012
2:27 pm

Well, on the bright side…this is prolly the last year she’ll have to go to Athens cheering for Derek as UTs head coach….

GoBigDog

September 27th, 2012
2:34 pm

@bob — Excellent point!!! The ridiculously ignorant grammatical errors in this blog are so frustrating. Come on, No Beans. Are you really that uneducated?

Dawg Fud

September 27th, 2012
2:37 pm

Barbara, we understand and no explanation needed. Derek is your son and you should support him. Would not expect anything less.

This should be a great game and I am hoping we are prepared to play well. Get after those Volunteers!!

GO DAWGS!

Rick James

September 27th, 2012
2:37 pm

Will somebody please te me what happened with Derek and his childhood freind Chuck Smith.It terrified me when he got that job at Tennesee because I thought he would sign whoever he wanted in Georgia.Then he has the sidewalk press conference and he’s gone..

WDE

September 27th, 2012
2:40 pm

Mrs Dooley is a lady to ride the river with..Go Dogs !

[...] News Sources wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerpt [...]

Buddy Landel

September 27th, 2012
2:43 pm

Chip Towers

September 27th, 2012
2:23 pm
Bubba J: I’ve never banned you or anyone else for correcting spelling errors. However, I will ban folks for using multiple names
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

I wish the folfs over on the Braves beat blogs would use these guidelines. Kudos to you, Chip.

St Simons

September 27th, 2012
2:43 pm

As it should be – she’s a good mama. We still love you, Barbara.

maybe he’ll coach back at home after Mark retires

Buddy Landel

September 27th, 2012
2:43 pm

folks, not folfs

rhbDAWG1

September 27th, 2012
2:45 pm

No Beans Just Grits and Gravy – I think you mean “traitor”. Of course she is a “trader” in where her loyalty lies because of her son. I have a son and I understand completely but I hope the Dooley family is very sad at Saturday’s score.

[...] News Sources wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerpt [...]

[...] News Sources wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerpt [...]

Class of '98

September 27th, 2012
2:48 pm

The funniest thing in the world is to hear either Barbara or Derek pronounce the word “bank”. As in those radio spots where she claims to love “Georgian Boyank”. I don’t it’s even possible to spell it the way she pronounces it.

Blue Ridge Dawg

September 27th, 2012
2:53 pm

Mama’s boy!… But that’s ok i guess?? This isn’t gonna be an easy win people. Dawgs better be ready, and I am sure they are! I still remember 2004. GO DAWGS!!

Frank Lane

September 27th, 2012
3:01 pm

“so I didn’t clean the house for 25 years.” What a hoot she is.

truedawg

September 27th, 2012
3:01 pm

Mother’s love…Well I wish him well every weekend but this one. I’ll bet you money though Ol’ Coach won’t be wearing Orange at home..lol I do think UT is moving in the right direction, but not there yet. I can handle Bab’s cheering UT if she can handle me booing her son, his team, and the state of Tenn..lol UGA 42-UT13 …GATA..GO DAWGS!!!

JoeFann

September 27th, 2012
3:09 pm

Trouble is, this is Georgia’s trap game–after a great game against Vandy and already eyeing the showdown with USCe and the HBC next week. UT is not without talent, especially on offense, and if the Dawgs aren’t ready they could get popped in the mouth. Even so, the Dawgs have the weapons to respond. UT will be ready. I hope the Dawgs are. Still think UGA’ll win, but maybe from behind.

As for Barbara, we’d expect no less and hold no ill will. Still like her. Vince wins, either way.

Go Dawgs!

Dozer

September 27th, 2012
3:09 pm

This story is old – we get it – do we have to hear this every year?

James

September 27th, 2012
3:10 pm

I can only imagine Vince Dooley watching his old team play his son’s team. Who do you root for? That has to be conflict. I would root for my son and feel dissappointed if UGA lost, but happy for my son.

If you put a webcam on him, that would be serious reality TV.

Barbara, I like your son as my alma mater’s head coach. I hope he stays at UT for a very long time.

Layinlow

September 27th, 2012
3:10 pm

Frankly, I could care less if she pulls for her dumb son who will soon be the ex ut coach. However, She could be a little more tactful about it. Go to the game wear your orange and pull for your son but you could have done it without running to the press to try and antagonize Uga fans with it. Plus you make your son look foolish by calling him your baby boy in public when he is the head of a major sec program. He is now a punch line because of you. And one more thing the dooley’s wouldn’t even have A legacy at Uga without Herschel.

Bring back Barbara's wardrobe, fire Derek

September 27th, 2012
3:14 pm

No problem….but when he gets fired, she better give up all that orange crap….and both her and Vince back at the stadium cheering for the Dawgs every Saturday.

Indian Dawg

September 27th, 2012
3:15 pm

Just a reminder that this Saturday’s game is a RED OUT! Come loud and proud! I don’t want a repeat of 2007. Cost us a shot at the title.

Here’s the official event, hosted by UGA Spike Squad, which I helped create.

https://www.facebook.com/events/333150966780012/

Go Dawgs!

Don'tsufferfools

September 27th, 2012
3:19 pm

Let’s say Derek survives 20 years as UT head coach. Will this subject still be discussed when they play UGA? Of course Barbara should support her son, especially after Adams back stabbed her husband. We should all remember Derek was man enough to go his own way. He played for Virginia when he could have walked on at UGA and tried to ride his dad’s coattails but he didn’t. Give him credit.

JRHD

September 27th, 2012
3:21 pm

Man I just love me some Babs. She is a classy lady. She would have done this state proud as a senator, but then again D.C. wouldn’t have known what hit them when she got there and started shaking things up w/ her down home sensibilities. Anyway, I hope UT gives Derek a chance after we beat the orange of the vols on Saturday.

MJ

September 27th, 2012
3:29 pm

Since 2009:

Derek Dooley is 0-11 vs teams that finish in the top 25.

Mark Richt is 0-9 vs. teams that finish in the top 25.

What a pair!

Ed

September 27th, 2012
3:34 pm

And if the Dooleys were at liberty to be honest, they’d probably admit to pulling for Auburn against Georgia every year since Vince Dooley retired from the Athletic Department. Remember the “War Eagle” Dooley gave during a radio interview in 2010? That’s their alma mater, after all. So that makes them like the rest of us.

This is a silly non-issue that somehow keeps getting raised every year.

On another note, you have to love Barbara Dooley. A pretty, funny, outspoken Lebanese-American with one of the deepest southern accents you’ll ever hear. They don’t make many like her.

441North

September 27th, 2012
3:35 pm

Tennessee’s Derek Dooley is Alabama’s Mike Shula.

[...] News Sources wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerpt [...]

CaliDawg

September 27th, 2012
3:44 pm

Adams never backstabbed Dooley…Dooley played the Favre card…”I’m gonna retire..no I’m coming back”…holding Adams, the AD, and University hostage one too many times. Bottom line…IMO Dooley’s ego and selfishness hurt the University during those last years as AD (look at the head coaches throughout the ADept and the lack of changes that needed to be made). It was only after they held him to his retirement that VD showed his true political savvy style and hurt UGA in many ways – dividing the University. Is that a true UGA man? Not once did he as AD walk up through the crowd back to the press box until AFTER he wanted the crowd (literally and figuratively) against Dr. Adams. I’ll never forget the day Dooley held up a picture a kid colored and asked for Ron Jirsa to be the head basketball coach at UGA…and then actually stated during the press conference, that is what made him decide Jirsa was the right man for the job. Just sad.

GT

September 27th, 2012
3:44 pm

Barbara Dooley is great! I got a daughter, two grown and married, and they are still my baby girls. It’s what life is all about even trumps football. (one is a Georgia grad, and made me wear all red and black to the Sugar Bowl when it was here). Now that is love.

kingdaddy

September 27th, 2012
3:51 pm

Sorry Barbs, you just lost all cred in my book. I understand Tn. is a nice place to live, lol. I lived there 22 years, but I was Dawg the whole time. Look how the state of Tn. turned on Spurrier and he wasn’t even born there…

kingdaddy

September 27th, 2012
3:52 pm

Poor Vince…

Long-time Dawg

September 27th, 2012
3:53 pm

Barbara–Trailways is ready when you are.

78Dawg

September 27th, 2012
3:54 pm

Vince and Barbara will always be number 1 in Bulldog history

VolstudentfromGA

September 27th, 2012
3:55 pm

Tennessee won’t fire Dooley unless they fail to make a bowl game this year. His buyout is 5 mil this year, so it wouldn’t be good business canning him at this point unless they truly lose to somebody they shouldn’t, like Troy, vandy, and Kentucky. They’d be paying 3 coaches if they fired Dooley as they’re still paying fulmer’s contract.

UGA wins 38-24. Tennessee will score a decent amount but they won’t stop UGA.