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The Difference A Coach Can Make: How Vince Dooley Altered Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate

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Eric Streitenberger of Bubba n' Earl Sittin' on the 50 details the impact a great coaching change can have on a rivalry.

Image via Flickr user GeorgiaInfo http://www.flickr.com/photos/gainfo/4408631203/sizes/z/in/photostream/
Image via Flickr user GeorgiaInfo http://www.flickr.com/photos/gainfo/4408631203/sizes/z/in/photostream/

Eric Streitenberger co-founded Bubba 'n Earl Sittin' on the 50, where he writes about the Georgia Bulldogs. Follow him on Twitter here.

For most Georgia fans, the annual matchup with in-state rival Georgia Tech is generally considered a game that the Bulldogs should win year in, year out. And why not? Since Mark Richt took over in Athens in 2001, the Bulldogs have defeated Georgia Tech eight times in nine games, including a 30-24 victory in Atlanta last fall. While in recent years the series has been very lopsided in favor of Georgia, this was not always the case.

Georgia Tech dominated the series throughout much of the early and middle 20th Century. Under legendary coaches John Heisman, Bill Alexander, and Bobby Dodd, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets won 378 games from 1904 - 1963. During that same period, Georgia Tech held a record of 26-21-4 against the rival Georgia Bulldogs, including winning the last three games by a combined score of 73 -16. But the hiring of a 31-year old rookie coach would change the landscape of the rivalry for years to come.

When Wally Butts abruptly announced his retirement in January of 1961, Georgia freshman coach Johnny Griffith was promoted to head coach. Griffith failed to produce a winning team over the next three seasons (including three straight losses to Florida and Georgia Tech) and was soon to be replaced. Athletic director Joel Eaves looked outside of the Georgia program to find the next coach. Vince Dooley, a 31-year old freshman coach from Auburn, was hired to take the reins of the Bulldog program. He brought a breath of fresh air to the Georgia sidelines and the team responded. After they ended the losing streak against Florida (with a 13-13 tie), Dooley's Dawgs closed the 1964 regular season with a 7-0 victory over Georgia Tech. Dooley was off to a good start against Georgia Tech, a trend that would continue for the remainder of his 25 years as head coach.

While Vince Dooley's career was just beginning, Georgia Tech's Bobby Dodd career was nearing its end. After losing to Georgia in 1964, Dodd's team would lose to the Bulldogs in the next two years (17-7 in 1965 and 7-6 in 1966). Dodd finished his career with a .713 winning percentage, 165 victories, and a 12-10 record against Georgia. Georgia Tech's next coach, Bud Carson, managed a 2-3 record against Georgia and was out of a job following the 1971 season. No Georgia Tech coach since Bobby Dodd has managed a winning record against the Georgia Bulldogs.

Vince Dooley's tenure on the sidelines at Georgia would be the most successful in Georgia history. Dooley won 201 games over the next 25 years and dominated the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, winning 19 of those contests. Even Dooley's successor, Ray Goff, kept up the winning ways against the engineers, winning the final five contests and ending with a record of 5-2. And when Jim Donnan lost his third straight game to Tech in 2000 to drop his career record to 2-3, the now athletic director Vince Dooley replaced Donnan with another young assistant, Mark Richt of Florida State. After winning his first seven matchups and rebounding from the loss in '08 to win last season, Richt now sits at 8-1 against Georgia Tech.

Georgia Tech owned a 27-26-5 lead in the rivalry before the arrival of Vince Dooley in 1964. Since then Georgia has won 33 of the 46 matchups and now owns a commanding 60-39-5 lead. Just as the hiring of Vince Dooley marked a change on "Clean, Old Fashioned Hate", the hiring of Steve Spurrier altered the Georgia-Florida series. Georgia held a 43-22-2 lead in the series over the Gators prior Spurrier's hiring in 1990. Since then, the Gators have won 17 of the last 20 contests and have drawn the series close to even.

When talking about a college football game, people tend to throw out the record books when it comes to rivalry games. Two teams that are mismatches on paper often play close games on the field because they are playing for bragging rights in their region. But in some cases, the dominance of one team over the other cannot be ignored. Vince Dooley forever changed the face of the Georgia-Georgia Tech rivalry and his winning tradition has carried on to today. When Paul Johnson defeated Georgia in his first season, some began to think the tide was turning. But during the worst season of Coach Richt's career, Georgia somehow found a way to beat the eventual ACC Champions. As the 2010 season begins, Georgia Tech is ranked higher than Georgia for the first time since 2001. The question is, can Paul Johnson find a way to beat Georgia or will the Dawgs continue the dominance started by Coach Dooley over 45 years ago?

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.