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Auburn and Virginia have colorful history

The father of Auburn football was also the father of the Auburn color palette—and a Virginia graduate.

Upon learning that Auburn would be Virginia’s opponent for the Chick-fil-A Bowl, Virginia Athletic Director Craig Littlepage said: “I know for sure there’s going to be a lot of orange and blue in Atlanta.”

Touche.

From “Auburn Man: The Life & Times of George Petrie” by Mike Jernigan (Petrie was the father of Auburn football, and though it was during his doctoral work at Johns Hopkins that he got really turned him on to the sport, he was likely first exposed to it a few years earlier as an undergrad at, ah yes, Virginia):

Another incident at the Unviersity of Virginia the year after Petrie left would also have a significant influence of Auburn. Since the Civil War, Virginia athletes had worn outfits of gray and red, symbolizing blood on the pale gray uniforms of Confederate soldiers. But as athletics increased in popularity student leaders realized that those colors did not show up well on muddy playing fields, and a student assembly was called to select a new set of school colors.

The meeting wad deadlocked until Allen Potts, a star athlete came into the room wearing a striped scarf of burnt orange and navy blue. He had gotten it while on a boating expedition at England Oxford University the previous summer, and when a fellow student pulled the scarf from around his neck and proposed the adoption of orange and blue as Virginia’s new colors, the crowd enthusiastically approved. Word of the change quickly spread and Petrie, by that time a professor at the Agricultural & Mechanical College of Alabama, soon heard of it. 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.

So yeah, at first we thought it might be Auburn vs. the team that stole our colors—another name for Clemson purple? Faded Old Auburn Practice Trousers Blue—in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. Again.

Instead, we’re going bowling with the team we stole borrowed them from.

Photo via kennysmith.org.

Related: Genealogy of a Nickname: The Zekes of Auburn.

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