A brief history of the SEC's school colors
A school’s colors are one of the many unifying factors. From Maroon Outs to Big Orange Friday, seeing someone wearing those familiar colors is one of the best ways to spot a fellow fan.
How did all of the SEC’s school colors come to be?
Alabama: Crimson and White
There is a story that Alabama got its colors from a ball on campus when UA was still a military school, wearing gray, black and white uniforms. A young woman attending the ball decided to wear crimson to match those colors. The name also may have come from the football team itself, when in 1892 the team made its standard uniform a white jersey with crimson stockings. The nickname “Crimson White,” then “Thin Red Line” and “Crimson Tide” stuck.
Arkansas: Cardinal Red and White
In 1895, students voted for the school colors, according to UA. A few years later, in 1899, the student body also initiated the school changing its name to University of Arkansas from Arkansas Industrial University. The university’s teams were initially known as the Cardinals in honor of the colors.
Auburn: Burnt Orange and Navy Blue
There are multiple theories about how Auburn arrived at its colors, but the most popular is that in 1892, football coach George Petrie was convinced to use the colors of his alma mater, Virginia, after seeing an orange “A” sewn onto a blue letterman jacket.
Florida: Orange and Blue
In 1910, Florida adopted its two colors as an homage to the two schools that merged together to form UF: University of Florida at Lake City (blue) and East Florida Seminary (orange and black).
Georgia: Red and Black
Georgia may have originally had “old gold” in its colors, but after a disagreement with rival Georgia Tech — which uses gold in its school colors — and a beatdown at the hands of the Yellow Jackets in 1893, Georgia president Dr. Charles Heaty removed gold, leaving just red and black. The red is thought to be a reference to the state of Georgia’s red clay.
Kentucky: Blue and White
UK students originally voted for blue and a shade of light yellow in 1891. The blue came when a football player, when asked what shade of blue, pulled off his royal blue tie and held it up. In 1892, students dropped the yellow shade for white.
LSU: Purple and Gold
According to a letter written by LSU’s first football coach Charles H. Coates, he, along with Ruff Pleasant (who would go on to be Louisiana’s governor) and several other men, went to a surplus store with the intention of finding colored ribbons for the school colors. This was during carnival (Mardi Gras) season; two of the season’s colors, purple and gold, were in full stock, while the other, green, had not come in yet. Coates bought out the stock of the purple and gold ribbons and the colors stuck.
Mississippi State: Maroon and White
As Mississippi State (then Mississippi A&M) was getting ready to travel to play its first football game, the student body requested that the team select colors to wear. The team passed the honor of selecting the uniform colors off to its captain, W.M. Matthews, who chose maroon and white. All of MSU’s teams have worn the colors since.
Missouri: Black and Gold
Early references to Missouri’s school colors indicate the school wore crimson and gold, but the university switched to black and gold to more closely reflect the Tiger mascot chosen in the 1890s.
Ole Miss: Red and Navy Blue
In 1893, with the university getting ready to play its first football game, Dr. A.L. Bondurant, the team’s manager-coach, suggested a merger of the colors of the two preeminent teams in the nation: the crimson of Harvard and the navy blue of Yale. The colors have stuck ever since.
South Carolina: Garnet and Black
The use of garnet and black dates back to South Carolina’s first football game against Furman in 1892. The reason is as simple as it gets: they’re the two dominant colors of the animal that represents the school, the gamecock.
Tennessee: Orange and White
When UT — founded as Blount College — moved from downtown Knoxville to The Hill in 1889, a cluster of orange and white daisies was found growing on the grounds. Athletics association president Charles Moore liked the colors and adopted them as UT’s official colors.
Texas A&M: Maroon and White
The origins of Texas A&M’s colors remains somewhat of a mystery to this day, but the school has been using them for as far back as most can remember. Maroon and white are referenced in “The Spirit of Aggieland,” written in 1925, so the colors go back at least that far. There is a story that the colors were originally red and white, but that a uniform company messed up A&M’s order and sent maroon instead, which A&M then adopted.
Vanderbilt: Black and Gold
The university doesn’t provide a clear history of where black and gold came from, but one story is that Commodore Vanderbilt’s family chose the colors to represent his success in the coal industry (black) and his fortune (gold). Another says that Vandy’s original colors were black and orange, with gold eventually replacing orange. The ‘Dores were wearing black and gold as far back as 1892, though.