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“I’ve coached there already as an opponent,” Dooley said from Knoxville. “I’ve played there as an opponent. There won’t be any nostalgia. Probably more at LSU than there would be at Georgia. It’s a very different place than when I grew up.”

That won’t make it any easier for his father.

“In a perfect world, I’d rather him be farther away and not in the same conference. I wish he had been in the far West and not so close,” Vince said. “But it is what it is. We’ll make the make the best of it. I am very proud of him.”

Both teams are desperate for a win.

The Bulldogs (1-4, 0-3 SEC) are mired in a four-game losing streak, their longest since 1990. Tennessee (2-3, 0-2) is coming off a bitter loss to LSU, giving up the winning touchdown with no time on the clock after giving the Tigers an extra play by having too many defenders on the field.

Vince Dooley knows his son has a difficult rebuilding job after taking over a once-powerhouse program that is on its third coach in three years.

“He’s got a tough road, a real tough road,” the father said. “They had a great opportunity to win last week. I doubt they’ll have too many of those opportunities. They’re down in quality and quantity.”

Derek grew up at his father’s side, often sitting in on the post-game news conferences. Vince would have preferred that his son go into another line of work, and that seemed likely when he graduated from Virginia with a degree in government and foreign affairs, then earned a law degree from Georgia.

The younger Dooley practiced law in Atlanta for nearly two years before the family business called.

“I tried to steer him in another direction,” Vince said. “He went to law school and did a good job. I thought he might go into public service. I thought he would be very good at it. But you’ve got to follow your own passions, and that’s what he ended up doing.”

Derek looks at his childhood in Athens from an entirely different perspective. It was a great experience, but he’s all grown up now.

“The Athens that I knew and the Georgia that I knew was my dad coaching as a kid. And that’s it,” he said. “When he stopped coaching and when I went to college, that ended.”

Of course, going into coaching is putting a strain on his mother _ especially the last two games. The galling loss to LSU was preceded by a double-overtime win over UAB.

But, unlike her husband, Barbara Dooley intends to be at Sanford Stadium with the rest of the family, putting away her Georgia colors for one week to cheer on her youngest son.

“She keeps asking me, ‘Why an I putting myself through this again? I went through this for 25 years here with you, and now I’m going through it again,’” Vince said with a chuckle. “You can imagine being a wife for all those games. Now your baby son is involved in the same thing.”