BLACKSBURG – Former Virginia Tech head football coach Bill Dooley, who guided the program to its first bowl victory, passed away Tuesday morning at his home in Wilmington, North Carolina. He was 82 and died of natural causes.
Dooley served in dual roles as both the head coach and athletics director at Tech from 1978-86, and he posted a record of 63-38-1 as a coach. When he left Tech following the 1986 season, he was the program’s all-time winningest coach.
Dooley came to Tech in 1978 after serving as the head coach at North Carolina for 11 seasons. While in Chapel Hill, he guided the Tar Heels to a 69-53-2 record and was the winningest coach in that program’s history as well when he departed to come to Blacksburg.
The Hokies suffered through losing seasons in Dooley’s first two years on the job, but he got things going in the right direction in 1980 and Tech did not have a losing season for the remainder of his tenure. In 1980, he guided the Hokies to an 8-3 regular-season record and a berth in the Peach Bowl – the school’s first bowl bid since 1968 – where they lost to Miami 20-10.
He led the program to two more bowls – the 1984 Independence Bowl and the 1986 Peach Bowl. In his final game as the head coach, Dooley guided the Hokies to a thrilling 25-24 victory over NC State when Chris Kinzer hit a field goal at the buzzer to win the game. The victory marked the school’s first bowl victory.
Dooley coached three All-Americans during his tenure at Tech, including Bruce Smith, the school’s all-time leader in sacks and tackles for a loss. A two-time All-American, Smith won the Outland Trophy in 1984 and went on to become the No. 1 overall pick by the Buffalo Bills in the 1985 NFL Draft. Dooley’s other two All-Americans were Robert Brown (1981) and Kinzer (1986).
Following his time at Tech, Dooley served as the head coach at Wake Forest for six seasons before retiring from coaching. During his 26 seasons as a head coach, he won 161 games.
Dooley is survived by his wife, Marie Dooley; four sons – Jim Dooley of Chapel Hill; Billy Dooley of Atlanta; Sean Dooley and his wife, Courtney; and Ashton Dooley, both of Wilmington; and two granddaughters – Hayden and Caroline Dooley, also of Wilmington.
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