This time, a Dooley is trying to beat the Dawgs

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ATHENS, GA. (AP) - Derek Dooley says it’s no big deal. His father knows better.

So Vince Dooley is sitting this one out.

The retired Georgia coach will naturally be cheering for his son when Tennessee faces the Bulldogs at Sanford Stadium on Saturday. But the thought of a Dooley pulling for the visiting team between the hedges _ well, that was just a little too awkward even for a proud dad whose son followed in his footsteps.

For the first time, Vince Dooley will take in a Georgia home game from his couch, just a few miles away, rooting for the Vols where no one can see.

“I’m going to sit down and just watch the game on television,” he said in a telephone interview Thursday. “It’s really a lot easier in a lot of ways.”

Dooley coached the Bulldogs for 25 years, leading them to six Southeastern Conference titles and the national championship in 1980. After retiring as a coach, he continued to serve as athletic director until being forced into retirement by university president Michael Adams in 2004.

Now 78, Dooley is still a popular figure at Georgia and that’s where his loyalties remain. But his son Derek was hired this year to coach at SEC East rival Tennessee, making it inevitable that one day out of every year Vince would be favoring orange over red and black.

“I pull for my family. If I don’t pull for my family, I won’t be married very long,” he joked.

Georgia coach Mark Richt said he understands why the man who hired him nearly a decade ago and usually attends every home game wouldn’t want to be around for this one.

“I think that was a smart move,” Richt said. “He doesn’t want to go into Sanford Stadium and root against Georgia. And he doesn’t want to ever root against his son. So he can’t win.”

Derek Dooley said the whole thing is overblown.

“A lot of people are trying to make something out of this,” the 42-year-old coach said. “I left Athens when I was 18. I know I’m not old, but that was a long time ago. I’ve worn a lot of colors since that time.”

For instance, he coached on Nick Saban’s staff at LSU, which gave him three chances to go against his father’s old team. The Tigers won twice, including a blowout win in the 2003 conference championship game. The Bulldogs won in a rout when the teams played in 2004 at Sanford Stadium.

Derek figures it was more emotional returning to Tiger Stadium last week to face LSU than anything he’ll feel this Saturday. He spent five very important years of his life in Baton Rouge, learning the ropes under one of college football’s best coaches.

Heck, Derek already has gone against his father’s team as a player. In 1987, Derek was a freshman receiver at Virginia when the Cavaliers defeated a Dooley-coached Georgia squad 30-22.

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