From the Crimson Tide to the Red and Black, school colors play a strong role in shaping a team’s identity, both on and off the field. But while every school has colors, the origin stories can be extremely varied.
Whether a simple student vote on campus, a coach making an executive decision or being in a store during a certain holiday season, every SEC team has legend behind its school colors. Here is how each team chose its look.
Alabama – Crimson and White
However boring it may seem, it appears the University of Alabama got its official colors from the uniforms its team wore on the field. Before 1900, the team was often referred to as the “Crimson White” or the “Thin Red Line.” After a game in 1907, local sports editor Hugh Roberts described the team as a “Crimson Tide,” matching their uniforms and voracity on the field. The state’s crimson and white flag also likely played a strong factor.
Arkansas – Cardinal Red and White
Cardinal red has been the official color at Arkansas since the university held a vote of the student body in 1895. Two colors were presented for selection: Cardinal Red and Heliotrope. Unfortunately, the Razorbacks did not become the only school in the nation to boast heliotrope unis. Cardinal and white has served the university well ever since.
Auburn – Burnt Orange and Navy Blue
There are a couple of rumors about the start of the team’s colors. The first claims that a fan sewed an orange A on a blue jacket to pay homage to head coach George Petrie’s old school, Virginia, for the school’s first football game. The second rumor says Petrie made up the colors on the spot when asked by a reporter. Regardless, the colors have stuck.
Florida – Orange and Blue
In 1910, the Buckman Act consolidated many of the state universities in Florida, including University of Florida at Lake City and East Florida Seminary. It is rumored that UFLC’s (blue) and EFS’s (orange and black) were appropriated and mixed with the Gators mascot to create the modern Florida brand.
Georgia – Red and Black
The Bulldogs originally had several colors, led by old gold, black and crimson. However, after a bitter game with Georgia Tech in 1893, the university opted to remove gold from its official school colors to separate itself from the other school. Crimson eventually switched to red, the black stuck and Georgia has boasted the color scheme ever since.
Kentucky – Blue and White
Before a game against Centre College in 1892, Kentucky voted to make blue and light yellow its official colors. But before the game, a player pointed out there was not a clear shade of blue. Richard C. Stoll, a player at the time, held up his royal blue tie, which gave way to the official Kentucky colors. Yellow was eventually dropped for white.
LSU – Purple and Gold
Sometimes, creating school colors is as easy as going to the store. In 1893, a couple of high-ranking members of the institution, led by the school’s first coach, Dr. Charles E. Coates, went to Reymond’s store near campus. They intended to get a large amount of ribbon and went with what was in the store. It was near Carnival and Mardi Gras, so the store was overflowing with purple and gold ribbon. The gentlemen settled on the color.
Mississippi State – Maroon and White
The Bulldogs were set to play their first football game on Nov. 15, 1895, but the student body noted that the school lacked official colors. To honor the inaugural group, team captain W.M. Matthews was given the honor of selecting the colors. He picked maroon and white, which the team has worn for the 121 years since.
Missouri – Black and Gold
Early in its history, the University of Missouri flew the colors crimson and gold as its official scheme. However, the color scheme was later changed to black and gold to fit the colors of the Bengal Tiger, the university mascot.
Ole Miss – Red and Navy Blue
The University of Mississippi has always fancied itself as elite, so the origin of the colors should come as little surprise. The Rebels had discussions over color palettes in 1893 and settled on representing the top universities in the nation. Soon afterwards, Ole Miss took its colors from Harvard (crimson) and Yale (blue).
South Carolina – Garnet and Black
South Carolina first took the field in garnet and black on Christmas Eve in 1892. The Gamecocks played Furman, which boasts purple uniforms, and South Carolina wanted to separate itself. Garnet and black also fall within the realm of the colors of a gamecock.
Tennessee – Orange and White
In 1889, the president of the Tennessee Athletics Association Charles Moore saw orange and white flowers on a hill and thought they looked good together. They have been the school’s official colors ever since.
Texas A&M – Maroon and White
There is no official story as to how the Aggies got their colors. But as is common at Texas A&M, legend and rumor has existed for generations. One of the most popular stories graduates tell says that the program originally ordered what it thought were red and white uniforms, but the manufacturer messed it up and deliver maroon and white kits. The Aggies went along and have worn the colors as long as anyone can remember.
Vanderbilt – Black and Gold
There is not necessarily a cohesive story as to why the Commodores have black and gold jerseys, but there is plenty of conjecture. Some say the university paid homage to found Cornelius Vanderbilt by referring to his success in coal (black) and immense wealth (gold). Regardless, the Commodores have been wearing the colors ever since.