Category Archives: College football

My favorite photo of Vince Dooley dressed as a Shakespearean character

The old Red & Black offices at the University of Georgia were wonderful. They certainly weren’t state of the art — no, you had to climb up squeaky stairs just above the coffee shop that chimneyed up wonderful fumes on Sunday mornings, and there were times you felt like the floors below you could collapse at any moment, which totally would have screwed us for deadline — but they were the perfect offices for a bunch of cocky, green college newspapermen and newspaperwomen.

I remember the dusty old couch in the room where the daily story budget meetings were held. I remember looking across the street at Toppers, one of the two local strip clubs in Athens. I remember the concert flyers, the stickers, the inside jokes that were plastered on all the walls. This was a college bar without the booze, a shrine to the Athens of yesterday made by the journalists of today so that when they took their future jobs they could remember the past and smile.

And there was the best wall art of all. It was a photo of Georgia’s legendary coach Vince Dooley, wearing a hat with a feather in it, posing like a stage actor eager to tackle hours of Shakespearean iambic pentameter.

That photo hung on the wall in the sports department, next to the Mac computer that barely connected us with working e-mail in the late 1990s.

No telling how long that photo lived on that wall, but one day in April of 2000, I hatched a plan. I took the picture off that wall and drove to Dooley’s office. I must have had an appointment to interview him — we didn’t have the kind of relationship where I could just drop on by whenever I wanted to chat — and at the end our talk, I pulled out the photo that labeled him Vince “Hamlet” Dooley

He looked at it, laughed, and claimed he didn’t remember posing for it. I believed him, though I also found it hard to believe.

That, I’m sure, is the last time we spoke.

I was reminded of that photo when I read Tanya Sichynsky’s nice piece on Dooley for the R&B as he was set to be honored for the 50th anniversary of his first season in Athens.

So, I went and found it. It, of course, is still glorious.

dooley-shakespeare1

After I left the interview, that photo somehow never made it back to the newspaper offices. It never retook its place on the wall along with the old REM stickers and the Asa Nisi Masa concert flyers.

Because after I left Dooley’s office, with the signature of a legend and a personalization to boot, I took it home with me.

That piece of wall in the sports department of the old Red & Black would remain bare. And much like Dooley himself, that spot was never again filled by anything quite as grand.

In my mind’s eye, I think I’m OK with that.

A phone call surprise

It’s not very often you hear from an athlete who makes an effort to seek you out and tell you that he appreciates something you wrote about him or her. It’s actually quite rare.

And that’s fine. I don’t write articles and features so athletes will say how much they like and appreciate my prose and my reporting. In fact, if they read it or not, if they like it or not, it doesn’t make much of a difference to me. If they like it, cool. If not, that’s OK too. If they’re indifferent, well, that’s pretty much what I expect.

That said, it’s always nice when you get a phone call out of the blue telling you how much somebody treasured what you wrote about them.

Throughout my years as a sports writer, this has happened only a handful of times. When I was in college at Georgia, I wrote a nice piece about Randy McMichael and his daughter (or was it his mother? Not sure, but I think it was his daughter), and he sought me out the next day to tell me how much he loved the story. When I worked at the Cincinnati Post, I wrote a nice feature about Xavier play-by-play man Joe Sunderman. A week or so later, I got an actual hand-written thank you card from the classy Sunderman.

On Saturday, as I drove to pick up my brother from the airport in Dayton, I got a call on my cell from Andre Revels. You might have seen this story I wrote about him recently, and he had just read it when somebody at work slid it across his desk. He said as soon as he read it, he knew he needed to call me to thank me.

Actually, he didn’t need to do that. If he hadn’t, I never would have thought twice about it.

But he called. And I’m glad he did.

No matter how jaded you become or how ambivalent you get about people’s opinions of your work, it’s always nice to hear that you’ve done a good job. Even a sport writer’s cynical heart can appreciate a phone call surprise.

Kelly closes one chapter of his life, kick-starts a new one

I wanted to go to South Bend, Ind., two weeks ago for two reasons. One was to cover the Brian-Kelly-to-Notre-Dame presser; the other was to see the hallowed campus of Notre Dame. It was nearly 10 hours of driving round trip, but I got a pretty good story out of it on CBSSports.com and I got some good color of the event, just in case.

Oh, and Touchdown Jesus was pretty cool.