The Southeastern Conference is full of history, traditions and rivalries. Mascot thievery and degrading chants are just a way of life when it comes to football in the deep south. Flip through the history books at each of these SEC schools and you’ll find some pretty interesting stories.
The Florida Gators chose their school colors for reasons you wouldn’t think, and the Georgia Bulldogs made the red and black popular only after a dispute with their rival school more than 100 years ago. LSU’s colors were supposed to be blue and white initially. Auburn University’s own shades of orange and blue, for example, tell quite the tale.
In fact, before Bo Jackson or “War Eagle” or Toomer’s Corner or even the historic Auburn Creed was written, the Auburn Tigers settled on their team colors after stealing them from another university. Can you guess which school that was?
Auburn Tigers Colors
Every Auburn fan knows the school’s official colors are burnt orange and navy blue.
Orange and Blue are common colors in the sports world. In baseball, the New York Mets chose orange and blue for their colors as an homage to the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants, who skipped town in favor of California. The Houston Astros have recently settled back into their orange and blue colors, after exploring the world of maroon and gold. But still, orange and blue belongs to Auburn. It’s not up for debate.
Auburn’s orange-and-blue combination (you can find the hex color codes here) is much more different than that of Florida’s or Boise State’s colors. The Auburn orange and navy blue can be found on flags, T-shirts and other apparel in Auburn, Alabama. Just attend a game at Jordan-Hare Stadium or take a virtual tour of AU’s athletic facilities if you truly want to be immersed in them.
These Auburn colors are as much a part of the school’s history as they are the chants and cheers.
Since the beginning of the 1955 football season, the school’s band has mentioned the colors in the Auburn Fight Song during football games:
War Eagle, fly down the field,
Ever to conquer, never to yield.
War Eagle, fearless and true.
Fight on you orange and blue.
Go! Go! Go!
On to vict’ry, strike up the band.
Give ’em hell, give ’em hell,
Stand up and yell, hey!
War Eagle, win for Auburn,
Power of Dixieland!
OK, so WHY are the Auburn Tigers’ colors orange and blue in the first place? Look no further than a man by the name of George Petrie.
Why Are Auburn’s Colors Orange and Blue?
As a professor and historian, George Petrie organized and coached Auburn’s very first football team in 1891. The Tigers even won their first game against Georgia in 1892, winning 10-0.
While Petrie was an Auburn Tiger through and through — he wrote the Auburn Creed — he was also a graduate of the University of Virginia. There are a couple theories about how Auburn settled on orange and blue, but they all include Petrie lifting the colors from UVA.
According to Auburn’s website, “one claims ‘Miss Allie’ sewed an orange ‘A’ on a navy blue letterman’s sweater and used it to convince coach George Petrie to use the colors of his alma mater (Virginia) for Auburn’s first football game against Georgia in 1892.”
Another theory states that “Petrie was asked by a reporter for the team’s colors before the game and he decided there on the spot. No matter how it started, a visit to any Auburn game will feature a sea of orange and blue.”
And according to Mike Jernigan, the author of “Auburn Man: The Life & Times of George Petrie”, Auburn’s colors trace back to someone named Allen Potts.
Potts was an athlete at UVA and upon returning from a boating trip to England Oxford University with an orange-and-blue scarf, he suggested the colors to the school. It stuck.
“Word of the change quickly spread and Petrie, by that time a professor at the Agricultural & Mechanical College of Alabama, soon heard of it,” Jernigan wrote. “As the A&M College’s own first football game approached a few short years later and the need arose for the Auburn school to choose colors of its own, the proud Virginia alumnus — and Auburn’s first football coach — would remember the news.”Advertisement
So, yes, Auburn stole its colors from Virginia.
But you know what? The Tigers look a heck of a lot better in them. I guess winning two NCAA national championships will do that.
SEC Team Colors
Alabama Crimson Tide: Crimson and White
Auburn Tigers: Burnt Orange and Navy Blue
LSU Tigers: Purple and Gold
Texas A&M Aggies: Maroon and White
Mississippi State Bulldogs: Maroon and White
Ole Miss Rebels: Red and Navy Blue
Arkansas Razorbacks: Cardinal Red and White
Florida Gators: Orange and Blue
Georgia Bulldogs: Red and Black
Tennessee Volunteers: Orange and White
South Carolina Gamecocks: Garnet and Black
Kentucky Wildcats: Blue and White
Vanderbilt Commodores: Black and Gold
Missouri Tigers: Black and Gold
This post was originally published on March 20, 2020.