Top Dawg: Georgia to name field after Dooley

Georgia will honor Hall of Fame former Bulldogs coach Vince Dooley by naming the field at Sanford Stadium in his honor.

A ceremony has been planned for Georgia's 2019 opening game on Sept. 7 against Murray State to dedicate Dooley Field at Sanford Stadium.

"I was very pleased for the family and pleased for all the ballplayers who have been so loyal and for all the friends and supporters," Dooley told The Associated Press.

The plan, announced Thursday by University of Georgia president Jere Morehead and athletic director Greg McGarity, must be approved by the university and the board of regents, which is expected later this month. It was unanimously approved by the Georgia athletic association's board of directors on Friday.

"I can think of no better way to open the 2019 home football schedule," McGarity said in a statement. "The event will be a moment for the entire Bulldog Nation to collectively say 'thank you' to a man who has devoted much of his life to making the Georgia athletics program one of the strongest in the nation."

The honor has been anticipated by many Georgia supporters since Dooley's 25-year run as coach ended in 1988 and he retired as athletic director in 2004.

The 86-year-old Dooley, who was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1994, said his wife of 59 years, Barbara, was "more than pleased."

"She was in a hallelujah stage of emotion, which she is capable of," Dooley said. "So she started crying and hugging the president and hugging the athletic director. It was a very nice surprise."

In 2008, former Georgia president Michael Adams unveiled a statue of Dooley at the entrance of the newly named Vince Dooley Athletic Complex. The statue shows Dooley being lifted up by players from his 1980 national championship team.

Dooley posted a record of 201-77-10 with six SEC championships and one national title in his long run as coach from 1964-88.

With tailback Herschel Walker leading the way, Dooley's Bulldogs won three straight SEC titles from 1980-82.

Current coach Kirby Smart supports the honor for Dooley as a way to generate more financial support for the expansion of the team's football facility.

"We will use this exciting development to galvanize private support around our capital fundraising efforts," Smart said.

Morehead said Dooley's impact on the university carried beyond athletics.

"Coach Dooley's many contributions to this university can be seen across campus, from Georgia athletics, where he achieved unrivaled success, to the learning environment, where today many academic programs and initiatives bear his name," Morehead said in a statement. "The university community will continue to benefit from his service and dedication for generations to come."