published Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

Coaches Vince Dooley, Watson Brown remember their brother versus brother battles

  • photo
    Former Georgia coaches Vince (standing) and Bill Dooley faced each other after Bill went to UNC.
    Photo by Contributed Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Two former Southeastern Conference football coaches have done the brother-versus-brother thing, and it's an experience they could have lived without.

As soon as the Super Bowl XLVII matchup between Jim Harbaugh's San Francisco 49ers and John Harbaugh's Baltimore Ravens became official Sunday evening, Vince Dooley and Watson Brown couldn't help but recall when they had to face their siblings. Dooley coached Georgia to a 1971 Gator Bowl win over North Carolina, which was guided by younger brother Bill, but Brown wasn't as fortunate.

His Vanderbilt Commodores lost during the 1986 and '87 seasons to the Tulane Green Wave, who were coached by younger brother Mack.

"Neither one of us liked it, and we said we would never do it again," Watson Brown said Tuesday. "Mack isn't just my brother but my closest friend in the coaching profession, and we couldn't talk much those two years. Being out there with him before the game and shaking hands after the game were hard for me."

Brown, who later coached at UAB and is now at Tennessee Tech, knew Tulane was on the schedule for two years when he took the Vanderbilt job in 1986. His brother used the 35-17 and 27-17 wins over the Commodores to help land a job at North Carolina, where he worked for a decade before leaving for Texas, where he won the 2005 national championship.

The two Browns have never coached together, but when Vince Dooley took over at Georgia in 1964, he hired his brother as offensive coordinator. After three seasons, the younger Dooley left for UNC, and there was no shortage of sibling stories in the month leading up to their lone career collision.

"I read where my brother said that his favorite toy growing up was a fire truck and that I had taken it from him and that he had always been mad about it," Vince Dooley said. "After the banquet the day before the game, I quoted what he had said. I had bought a little fire truck, and I told him that I would give the fire truck back to him right now."

Following Georgia's 7-3 triumph in which Jimmy Poulos rushed for 161 yards and scored the touchdown on a 25-yard run in the third quarter, the Dooleys met at midfield.

"When it's over and you win, you feel good, but you have some empathy for the other coach," Vince said. "When you walk out there and see that it's your brother, you have more empathy than normal for the other coach. It was better him than me, though, because when you get down to it, it's competition."

The awkwardness of the dueling Dooleys in Jacksonville continued when the teams got back to the hotel. Dooley's wife, Barbara, was irate that his sister, Rosezella, had been pulling for the Tar Heels.

"Billy was always the baby of the family, so I understood why my sister would be pulling for him," Vince said. "My wife didn't understand at all. It was a bad experience, and we hoped it would never have to happen again."

Watson Brown said nobody handled his two sibling situations better than his grandfather, Eddie Watson, who coached for more than three decades at Putnam County High School. Watson wore a two-billed hat with a Vanderbilt logo and a Tulane logo, shifting it depending on who had the ball.

This is not the first meeting between the Harbaughs -- the Ravens defeated the 49ers 16-6 on Thanksgiving night in 2011 -- and Brown believes the impending clash in New Orleans will be easier for them than the two he and his brother endured.

"I think the magnitude of this game will help," Brown said. "They have so much at stake that they probably don't have time to think about it being brother-brother, and this will be quicker compared to having a whole season to think about it. This one is two weeks and all of a sudden here it is."

Vince Dooley, ever the historian, noted that the Harbaughs will have to square off several more times before catching Bump and Pete Elliott. Bump guided Michigan and Pete led Illinois in seven head-to-head meetings from 1960 to '66.

"Going through that would have to be the worst of them all," Dooley said.

about David Paschall...

David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...

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