May 19th, 1934 - August 9th, 2016
The Legacy of Bill Dooley:
During his 26 years as a head football coach, Coach Bill Dooley transformed three Division One football programs into winners, The University of North Carolina, Virginia Tech, and Wake Forest University.
A “trench fighter” from the football fields of Mississippi State, Bill Dooley has followed a course to become one of the top coaches in college football history.
Dooley was nicknamed “The Trench Fighter” early on in his coaching career. He earned the name because he enjoyed getting in the trenches with his players and teaching them the game of football on the practice fields and going to battle with them on game day. Dooley carried his nickname and fighting spirit throughout his coach career and became known as the coach who revolutionized Atlantic Coast Conference Football.
Dooley was born in Mobile, Alabama in 1934. He attended McGill High School where he played football and basketball.
He played in the trenches at Mississippi State University under legendary Coach Darrell Royal. While there, Dooley was named All-Southeast Conference both his junior and senior year. His last game as college players was in Miami, Florida for the Shrine Bowl. He was awarded the Shrine Bowl’s Outstanding Lineman for his performance in that game.
After earning a degree in Business, Dooley continued his education as a graduate student coach at MSU. He later accepted a position on Jim Camp’s staff at George Washington in 1961, then after two seasons, returned to MSU as an offensive line coach.
When Vince Dooley was named head coach at the University of Georgia in 1964, his first act was to name Bill, his brother, as head of the offense. The brothers restored Georgia to football prominence. Georgia went to bowl games two of the three years he was on staff, compiling a record of 22-9-1.
In 1967, the University of North Carolina would ask Dooley to take the helm of a program that had known only three winning seasons and one bowl appearance in 20 years. In 11 seasons at UNC, Dooley’s teams would transform the Tar Heels into a national power and in the process would change the face of Atlantic Coast Conference Football.
In the 19 years before Dooley went to UNC, the ACC had put teams in only six bowl games. During his tenure at Carolina, the conference had 19 teams in post-season games and almost one third of them were Dooley’s.
“Bill Dooley turned ACC football around,” former Virginia Coach Don Lawrence, a rival of Dooley’s said. “He came into this league and worked around the clock to build a fine program. Everybody else started working overtime to catch up.”
While at UNC, Dooley’s teams earned three Atlantic Coast Conference Football Championships and went to bowls six of his last 8 seasons. His 1972 team posted the schools first 11-1 record and his 1977 team led the nation in scoring defense.
In 1971, he was named The American Football Coaches Association Kodak District Coach Of The Year and the ACC Coach of the Year. During his tenure at UNC, Dooley became the school’s all-time winningest coach.
In 1978, Coach Dooley accepted another rebuilding challenge when he was named Virginia Tech’s Head Football Coach and Athletic Director. Prior to Dooley’s arrival, the Hokies had experienced only three winning seasons and one bowl appearance in the previous 10 years.
Dooley’s formula for success continued in Blacksburg as he put together winning seasons from 1980-86. His 1983 team compiled a 9-2 record, which matched the school record for most victories in a season in 78 years. He later broke that mark
in his final year as his 1986 team finished 10-1-1. Just as he did at UNC, Dooley left Virginia Tech, an independent at the time, as the all-time winningest coach in school history.
In his first year at Wake Forest University, Dooley and his team proved to be a winning combination. The team posted their first winning season and Dooley was awarded ACC Coach of the Year. The Deacs came back with another winning season the following year, only the second time since 1952.
While at WFU, Dooley became the Atlantic Coast Conference’s all–time winningest head coach. His 191 games and 17 seasons as head coach in the ACC were also conference records.
In 1992, Dooley’s retired from the college coaching ranks after leading the Deacons to a bowl victory over the Oregon Ducks in the Independence Bowl. He was overwhelmingly awarded Atlantic Coast Conference Coach of the Year once again.
Upon retiring from coaching in 1992, Dooley served the State of North Carolina Director of Sports Development and was instrumental in promoting it as a sports destination. He also served as the Blue Gray All-Star Game Recruiting Director and later the Florida Gridiron All-Star Classic Coaches’ Recruiting Director.
He served as the Executive Director of the Bill Dooley Triangle East Chapter of the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame.
Dooley has served as an Executive Board member of the World Special Olympics, Honorary Chairman of Easter Seals, Honorary Chairman and Board member of the North Carolina Special Olympics and Chairman of the Greater Wilmington Sports Hall of Fame.
In addition, he has received many honors, which include the NFFCHOF Outstanding Chapter Leader Award (2001), the NFFCHOF Triangle Chapter Distinguished American Award, the NFFCHOF Triangle Chapter Outstanding Contribution to Amateur Football Award and the Bob Quincy Award.
He has been inducted into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame, the All-American Hall of Fame, the Mississippi State University Hall of Fame, the Independence Bowl Hall of Fame, the Chick-fil-a Bowl Hall of Fame, the Mobile Hall of Fame, the Gulf Coast College Hall of Fame, the McGill Institute Hall of Fame and the Greater Wilmington Sports Hall of Fame. In addition, he has been awarded the Virginia College Coach of the Year, Virginia Beach Sports Club Coach of the Year (1980, 1984) and the Suffolk Sports Club Coach of the Year (1982, 1983, 1986).