Matt Dixon

 

Sports Editor

The Tennessee-Georgia series added another chapter to the storied rivalry when Derek Dooley was named UT's head coach in January.

Tennessee's first-year coach is the son of Vince Dooley, legendary coach of the Bulldogs. Vince Dooley coached at Georgia for 25 years and also served as the school's athletic director from 1979 to 2004.

Derek Dooley was born in Athens and served as a graduate assistant for the Bulldogs in 1996, a year after graduating from Georgia's law school. He was even greeted with a few cheers from the Bulldog faithful when he was introduced before Saturday's game.

Vince Dooley chose to stay at home for the game because he didn't want his appearance to serve as a distraction.

However, the often outspoken Barbara Dooley, Vince's wife and Derek's mother, attended the game, donning a Tennessee orange jacket and Georgia red pants.

The game itself was a unique meeting in the series, which dates back to 1899, when Tennessee defeated Georgia 5-0 in Knoxville. It marked the first time since 1906 that both teams entered the game sporting losing records.

And since polls became implemented in college football in the 1930s, it was only the second time that neither team was ranked when the two squads met on the gridiron. The other took place last season, ending with a 45-19 UT victory.

Despite the loss on Saturday, UT still leads the overall series 21-17-2.

Since 1964, the year Vince Dooley was named the head coach of the Bulldogs and Doug Dickey was named head coach of the Vols, Tennessee has had 14 10-win seasons compared to Georgia's 15. However, in only five of those years — 1971, 1997, 2003, 2004 and 2007 — have both schools boasted 10-win seasons.

While that doesn't seem too striking, the trend is an interesting one. It seems that each school has had its greatest success while the other is rebuilding. The two border-state schools go head-to-head each year in recruiting. Former Vol greats Jamal Lewis, Deon Grant and Cosey Coleman are all Georgia natives who helped the Vols win the 1998 national championship. Safety Eric Berry, one of the greatest defensive players in UT history, is also from the Peach State.

From 1967 to 1972, Tennessee won at least nine games, including the SEC title in 1967, in all but one of those seasons, while Georgia only won more than eight games in one of those years.

Georgia reeled off four 10-win seasons from 1980 to 1983, including the 1980 national championship and three SEC titles, while UT won less than nine games in three of those four years. It was in the 1980 UT-UGA match-up that a freshman running back named Herschel Walker ran over the Vols, literally, and burst onto the college football scene before later winning the Heisman Trophy in 1982.

During the Vols' unprecedented run in the mid-1990s, where they won at least 10 games from 1995 to 1998 — including the 1998 national championship and two SEC titles — Georgia had two six-loss seasons and was in the midst of a nine-game losing streak to the Vols, which was snapped in 2000.

Current Georgia coach Mark Richt earned his first signature win in 2001 in the now-(in)famous "Hobnailed Boot" game, where the Dawgs scored a touchdown in the game's final seconds to upset the Vols in Neyland Stadium.

Despite his success, Richt was beginning to feel heat about his job security heading into the season. After a 1-4 start, Richt needs some more games like Saturday's in order to return next season.

If Georgia decides to make a change, Tennessee looks like the team that would benefit the most from a coaching change in Athens, if history is any indication.

 

—Matt Dixon is a senior in journalism and electronic media. He can be reached at mdixon3@utk.edu.