Georgia legend Jake Scott doesn’t have any dirt on his former coach, Vince Dooley.
So when Scott learned Dooley said he was the “most gifted all-around athlete” he coached at Georgia, the former Bulldog was left looking for an explanation.
“I don’t know if I blackmailed him or something that he would have to say that,” Scott said on Friday “but I appreciate that. We had some great players come through Georgia and play for coach Dooley. I appreciate that statement. I’m not sure it’s true, but I appreciate it.”
True or not, Scott this week joined 11 other former Georgia players when he was tabbed for induction into the College Football Hall of Fame.
Not one who likes to bask in the spotlight, Scott tried to deflect the attention from himself and onto the teams on which he played.
“I think it is a team honor more than it is a personal honor,” Scott said.
“Football is a team sport and if it wasn’t for those players around me at Georgia and the players around me at Miami, I wouldn’t be there. You have to win as a team and I’m just thankful for my teammates.”
Born in Greenwood, S.C., Scott was a defensive back and punt returner for Georgia in the late 1960s. He set a pair of school records in 1968 – interceptions (10) and punt returns (440 yards on 35 returns). He also holds a career record for interceptions and return yardage with 16 for 315 yards.
Scott was one of the leaders of the 1968 Southeastern Conference championship team that finished the regular season 8-0-2 and is considered one of the best in Georgia history.
That Georgia team survived a tough game against Houston with a 10-10 tie, a game that still sticks out to Scott.
“We got lucky and tied Houston,” he said. “They just kicked the hell out of us. Coach Dooley said, ‘I hope we can meet them in a bowl somewhere.’ Brad Johnson and I looked at each other and I said, ‘I guess he wasn’t at the same game we were at. I don’t want to see those guys again.’ ”
That season also ended with a choice – the Bulldogs could either play in the Orange Bowl for an outside shot at a national title or the Sugar Bowl. Scott said that Dooley picked the Sugar Bowl because the coach didn’t think the Bulldogs could win in the Orange Bowl.
“We felt like we had a chance to play for the national championship,” Scott said. “This is a team thing. We felt like he didn’t think we could go over and beat them, and it really hurt our team. … That’s why I left.”
Scott left Georgia after winning 1968 SEC Player of the Year honors as a junior, turning pro and enjoying an equally successful career in the NFL. During his six years playing with the Miami Dolphins, he played in three Super Bowls and was MVP of Super Bowl VII in 1972. He played his final three seasons in the NFL with the Washington Redskins.
Scott has since been inducted into the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame and the Miami Dolphins Hall of Honor.
Today, he lives a quiet life in Hawaii, away from the spotlight that could follow a former pro athlete.
“There’s a great world out there and you need to get out there and see it,” he said. “You can get caught up in your own life too much and you should go out and see other cultures and other people. You aren’t going to get really rich, but you are going to have a great life.”