ALBANY -- Last year, more than 1,000 Georgia football fans came out to the Albany Mall to get their picture made, book signed and talk Xs and Os with former Georgia coach Vince Dooley.
On Thursday from 4-7 at the same location, Dooley will be back once again -- but this time the topic of conversation is more likely to center on soil types and flower species, rather than football.
"Vince Dooley's Garden," is Dooley's latest book, and it centers on the ol' ball coach's new love away from the gridiron in recent years.
"It's just something that's turned into his later-in-life passion," said Dodd Rentz, who is helping promote the book and was a partner in Dooley's most recent football book he signed for fans last December, entitled, "Dooley's Playbook: The 34 Most Memorable Plays in Georgia Football History."
Dooley will also sign old copies of his other two books -- "My 40 years at Georgia" and "Belue to Scott" -- as well as have those books on sale.
But for the most part, he's coming to talk about his garden, which features artwork by renowned Georgia artist Steve Penley, who did all the illustrations for "Dooley's Playbook" a year ago, and spent many hours at Dooley's house painting his picturesque garden.
"This book was a lot easier to do than coach Dooley's last book because it was drawing landscapes in his garden, rather than recreating old plays from years ago. I went over several times and painted and my sister snapped pictures we used to recreate. It's really an incredible layout of labyrinths and mazes," said Penley, who will not be at the signing Thursday, but will return in January for a signing of his own at the Albany Museum of Art for his book entitled, "Ronald Reagan and the American Ideals," which features Penley's paintings of the former U.S. president from over the years. "That's kind of how coach and I got hooked up on these books we've done: We're both big fans of history."
In Dooley's book on gardening, there is also a foreword and afterword by noted horticulturists Michael Dirr and Allan Armitage, respectively.
Dooley coached at Georgia from 1964 to 1988, winning the school's only national title in 1980.