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A Visual History of the Auburn Football Uniform

As you saw in my Top 10 Posts of 2011, five of the ten most read posts of the past year were related to Auburn’s uniforms. Needless to say, uniforms have been a hot topic over the past few years with Auburn fans. There seems to be an endless debate over whether Auburn should make major uniform changes for one game a year or stick with what some call the “traditional” uniform always and forever.

A few days ago, @GeorgeRBrown pointed me to a Flickr account that he ran across in a random Google search that contained fifteen water color paintings of Auburn’s uniforms from 1892 to 2008. After doing a little digging, I was taken back to a site, Heritage Sports Art, that specializes in uniform history for various pro and college teams of all sports. Being the uniform freak that I am, I was floored that I had not seen or even heard anything about most of Auburn’s previous uniform designs.

Below you will find prints of fifteen uniforms from the first year of Auburn football up until modern day. Each picture has a brief description from Heritage Sports Art (in italics), with my thoughts on the uniform below. Orange jerseys, blue helmets, and tiger heads, oh my…

1892 This painting of a laced canvas jacket-jersey honors the first season of Auburn football. The team played one game in February 1892 (a win over Georgia) and three in November (a win and two losses). The coach was George Petrie, who only coached this one year and the captain was Frank Lupton. Purchase this print.

Can you imagine Lutzenkirchen wearing this? It reminds of something you’d see in a Shakespearean play, so I’m sure Blake Burgess wouldn’t mind suiting up in it. And what exactly is the beanie for? Does it really need the ball on top? Notice that there was no blue on the uniform, only orange.

1903White-tan laced canvas “one piece jumper” with orange mid-section and sewn-on orange shoulder pads. No uniform number or lettering on front. Black rubber nose guard … Coached by Billy Bates in his only year of coaching, the team went 4 and 3 and were captained by J. P. Paterson. Purchase this print.

Can someone get this over to Lady Gaga? I’m sure she’d love to wear it. That nose guard, which looks eerily similar to an archaic athletic supporter, would be right up her alley. I don’t get the full frontal laces. It reminds me of a corset. Wouldn’t buttons do? I guess they would get popped off easily during tackles, but still. Can you imagine unlacing that during a quick trip behind the tree next to the pasture this game was being played on. Notice that blue was introduced, but orange is equally prominent.

1913Blue woolen jersey with orange sleeve stripes and tan pants. No uniform number or lettering on front. Natural leather (brown) helmet … The 1913 Tigers were undefeated as they went 8-0 and were crowned SIAA Champions. In the process they outscored their opponents 223-13. Team captain was QB Kirk Newell. The team was coached by Mike Donahue, who coached for 18 seasons from 1904-06 and 1908-22. Purchase this print.

Now we’re talking. I would wear that right now, at least the jersey. A real helmet is finally added, but come on, that thing wouldn’t stop anything but a goose egg.

1929White jersey with orange tiger head design. No uniform number or lettering on front. Natural leather/brown stove pipe helmet … This Tiger-head jersey, worn only in 1929, is the only jersey in Auburn history to have a graphic image on it. The team struggled on the field (2-7), and saw coach George Bohler fired midway through the season. His replacement, John Floyd, lost the four games he coached and promptly left Auburn. Purchase this print.

Wow, I love this one. If Auburn ever did do a throwback jersey, they should pick this. A Tiger head on the front of the jersey?! That is beyond awesome in my opinion. Notice no blue, and the leather helmet had no major changes, other than the addition of Frankenstein-style flat top.

1932Blue jersey with orange uniform number. Blue helmet with orange stripes. The 1932 Tigers went 9-0-1 and won the Southern Conference. This 1932 uniform honors number 18, team captain Jimmy Hitchcock. Known as the “Phantom of Union Springs”, Hitchcock was Auburn’s first All-American. Purchase this print.

Well look at that. Auburn has worn a blue helmet before. After all that hoopla in 2010, it turns out it wouldn’t be that big of a deal, at least not to someone who was around in 1932. This is the first blue jersey with numbers and appears to be the beginning of what we know as the Auburn jersey today. But there they go with all those laces again…

1946Orange jersey with blue uniform number and sleeve stripes. Blue helmet. This painting honors #11 Travis Tidwell who in 1946 lead the nation in offensive yards as a freshman. The 1946 team was coached by four-year man Carl Voyles and finished with four wins against six losses. Purchase this print.

Oh no! It’s the ultimate traditionalist’s worst nightmare: an orange jersey AND a blue helmet in the same uniform! Blasphemy! How dare they?! I don’t know about you, but I think this looks pretty awesome. I’d take it. Again, only in a rare, throwback uniform sort of way. This appears to be the first orange jersey worn at Auburn, and as you’ll see, won’t be the last.

1957White jersey with blue uniform number and blue and orange sleeve stripes. White helmet with orange and blue stripes. This painting honors one of Auburn’s greatest teams – the 10-0 National Champion 1957 Auburn Tigers … #61 honors sophomore Zeke Smith who played both ways, and it was for his defensive work that he won the Outland Trophy in 1958 … Legendary Ralph “Shug” Jordan was coach having taken the reins in 1951. Purchase this print.

The birth of the Storm Trooper. Other than the single stripe on the pants and the absence of the AU logo on the helmet, this is pretty much what Auburn wears today. So I guess Auburn’s “traditional” away uniforms started in 1957. I think, THINK, that Auburn only wore white back then because there were no rules on home-away jersey colors.

1963 Blue jersey with white uniform number and white/orange sleeve stripes. White helmet with orange and blue stripes. The 1963 team was coached by Ralph “Shug” Jordan, finished 9-2 (6-1 in the SEC) and was ranked 5th nationally by the AP Poll and 6th by UPI. Uniform #12 honors QB Jimmy Sidle, a 1963 All-American. Sidle was the first college QB ever to lead the nation in rushing as he gained 1,006 yards in 1963. Purchase this print.

The “traditional” blue jersey is introduced. The single stripe on the pants remains, and the players number is added to the helmet. Not sure how I feel about that, but it was pretty common back then.

1971Blue mesh jersey with white uniform number and white/orange sleeve stripes. White helmet with orange and blue stripes … The 1971 Auburn squad was ranked 12th by AP and 5th by UPI … This 1971 painting honors Heisman Trophy winning QB Pat Sullivan who was Auburn’s first Heisman winner. In his three varsity seasons at Auburn (1969-71), Sullivan went 26-7 as he racked up 53 passing TD’s and 18 rushing TD’s and was named All-American in 1970 and 1971. Purchase this print.

From top to bottom, this is generally the Auburn uniform of today. The major difference is the see through mesh jersey. I guess they were cooler?

1978Orange jersey with white uniform number. White helmet with orange and blue stripes. This orange jersey was worn for one game in 1978 (11/18/78 at home vs Georgia in a 22-22 tie). The orange jerseys appears to have been a coach Doug Barfield (1976-80) experiment, and were worn once in 1978, 1979 and 1980 … The team went 1-1-1 in those games … #20 honors running back and senior Joe Cribbs. Purchase this print.

This kind of looks like Auburn forgot their jerseys for the game and had to borrow some from Tennessee. The orange jersey doesn’t even come close to matching the orange in the helmet and pants. That’s probably due to the fact that people didn’t really care as much about style and production back in 1978. Barfield probably told a student worker to order some orange jerseys and that was it. Before you think this is just a poor paint job, you can see how off the orange was in this program cover from the 1980 Tennessee game and this video of the 1980 Georgia game.

1983Blue jersey with white uniform number and white/orange sleeve stripes. Uniform number 34 honors Bo Jackson, 1985 Heisman Trophy winner. White helmet with orange and blue stripes … The 1983 Tigers went 11-1, 6-0 SEC, and finished the season ranked third nationally, although after the fact they were crowned national champs by the NY Times, mathematician David Rothman and the College Football Researchers Association. The 1983 squad was coached by Pat Dye and won the Sugar Bowl over Michigan 9-7. Purchase this print.

Ahhh, the orange facemasks. I’m torn on whether they should ever bring those back. They look so retro that they seemed to fit nicely back then. Now with the skinnier bars on the facemasks I’m not really sure how it would look. This is a tweak I don’t think many people would mind, but how much would that effect the player’s view out of the helmet? It seems like the bright color would be distracting. But if it’s good enough for Bo, it’s good enough for anybody.

1993White jersey with blue uniform number and blue/orange sleeve stripes. White helmet with orange and blue stripes. Uniform number 74 honors Wayne Gandy … The 1993 team went 11-0 (8-0 SEC) for the first time and was ranked 4th nationally … 1993 was Terry Bowden’s 1st year as coach. Purchase this print.

For whatever reason, it was all the rage in the 80’s and 90’s to have a short jersey that showed your stomach. I have no idea why. I’d want my stuff covered up. Other than that, in terms of uniform design, this, like 1971, is what Auburn wears today.

1997Blue jersey with white uniform number and orange drop shadow, while/orange sleeve stripes. White helmet with orange and blue stripes .. This 1997 jersey features an unusual drop shadow numbering style and honors #55 Takeo Spikes … The 1997 Tigers also had a successful 1997 campaign under 5th and final year coach Terry Bowden. The squad finished 10-3, including a one point loss to Tennessee in the SEC Championship game and a thrilling win over Clemson in the Peach Bowl. Purchase this print.

Besides winning his first 20 games as Auburn’s coach, most fans remember Terry Bowden as the guy who brought in the orange drop shadow to the uniform numbers. It’s a very 90’s look, so as far as I remember, it was accepted back then. Right now, it looks hideous to me.

2004 – Blue jersey with white uniform number and while/orange sleeve stripes. White helmet with orange and blue stripes … The 2004 Tigers went 13-0 in 2004 (8-0 in SEC). The team was coached by Tommy Tuberville and was ranked 2nd in both the AP and ESPN/USA Today season ending polls … The 2004 team was led by #17, QB Jason Campbell, who was later drafted in the 1st round by the Redskins. In 2004, Campbell was First-team All-SEC, SEC Offensive Player of the Year, 5 times SEC Offensive Player of the Week, SEC Championship Game MVP and Sugar Bowl MVP. Purchase this print.

Other than the little circle with the AU logo at the neck, there’s no real change in the design from previous years. Obviously the drop shadow was dropped when Bowden left/was fired in the middle of the 1998 season.

2008White jersey with blue uniform number and blue/orange sleeve stripes. White helmet with orange and blue stripes … Uniform number 94 honors Sen’Derrick Marks, a junior defensive end in 2008 … Auburn began the 2008 campaign ranked 10th by AP and 11th by USA Today/ESPN, but their 5-7 record for the 2008 season marked their first losing season since coach Tuberville’s first season in 1999. Purchase this print.

The SEC logo was added to the front of the jersey, a standard for all conference teams, the AU logo was added to the pants (I’m not positive that this wasn’t there in 2004), and the circle logo was replaced by a small “AUBURN” on the neck. Again, this is pretty much what Auburn wears today. Showing again that no major changes have been made since 1971.

That brings me to a quick point I’d like to make. Over the past few years, there have been rampant rumors of jersey and helmet changes for certain games. I don’t know where they came from, but I hear he’s handsome.

Anyway, when those rumors come up, half the fanbase wants it to happen, and half go and get their pitchforks claiming that Auburn should always stick to their traditional jerseys. After seeing the history of changes in Auburn’s 100+ year history, how can you say what is traditional? Is what Auburn has worn in the past 40 years considered traditional? I’m not arguing, just asking a question.

After seeing these prints, I am 100% on the bandwagon of a throwback uniform at some point of every season. It would not be a change. It would be an act of honoring the history of Auburn football. One could argue that Michigan has the most famous and traditional uniform, and this year they wore some sort of throwback in almost every game. The world didn’t explode, and Michigan had their best season in years.

In all actuality, uniforms have zero to do with wins and losses, unless you’re Georgia. An occasional look back at history would be awesome, especially with that 1929 jersey with the Tiger head on the front. Alright, I’m off my soap box.

If you want more history and details of each of these prints, head on over to the Heritage Uniforms and Jerseys blog on Auburn. It has more history than I’ve ever read about Auburn’s uniforms. This guy has done his research and knows his stuff. You can purchase any and all of these framed, original watercolor paintings here.

Here’s a video of the owner of Heritage Sports Art and Maple Leaf Productions, Scott Silcox, briefly going over each painting and how to order the framed prints if you’d like to do that.

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BartC c/o 95 01/05/2012 at 12:02 pm

They did have blue jerseys in 1957. They were solid blue with white numbers and no sleeve stripes. The white jerseys were worn much more often. Team pictures were taken with the whites then too.

That orange Joe Cribbs number up there is the tear-away version worn by backs only. The orange jerseys worn by the rest of the team had stripes on the sleaves. The orange depicted in the graphic is actually incorrect. That one does appear to be Tennessee orange. The actual Auburn orange jerseys were the correct burnt orange hue. I have one and it is burnt orange.

Great article!!

Clint 01/05/2012 at 12:02 pm

Great post! You said you’re a uni freak, check out Its really cool.

bh 01/05/2012 at 12:27 pm

I love the idea of a throwback. I would hope, though, they would consult with David Housel, the artist, or some other true historian of AU football first. I would definitely like the tiger head uniform.

T. C. Nomel 01/05/2012 at 12:32 pm

I don’t think I had ever seen the cat head before; very interesting stuff.

JPorter 01/05/2012 at 1:26 pm

Tiedman & Formby recently acquired a license to do throwback jerseys for Auburn fans. The first will be a Bo:
Hoping a ’71 Sullivan and ’57 will follow. A ’46 orange would be kind of awesome too.

Jana A 01/05/2012 at 2:10 pm

I love the 1913. It’s my favorite.

Jeremy 01/05/2012 at 2:28 pm

It would be nice to have 10-15 combinations sent in by fans on the university website that we could vote on for the best one. They could wear it for one home conference game. Also, they could have the option of no uni change that could be voted for in case the majority was opposed.

Let Aubie alone don the Tiger head 01/05/2012 at 6:11 pm

If a vintage or throwback was worn, I would hope it would only be for a Tennessee season opener or perhaps a Georgia game. Not every season. Not vs Bama.

As for the tear-away jerseys of the late ’70s-‘early 80s, some appeared to have a looser mesh while others would leave a linebacker with a handful of navy blue fabric.
Neither home nor away varied distinctly from the ’71-’97 versions.

Under Armour should be able to simulate the ’13 wools with 4 orange stripes on separate sleeves like T’Sharvan Bell & others wear today. Might be a distinct option at least offered for turf games.

Etsj 01/05/2012 at 8:13 pm

I love the tiger head jersey! As soon as I saw it I thought of a throwback jersey game! How cool would that be?!?

Also, I remember the orange jerseys well. What I don’t remember are the stripes on the sleeves! Since we have video evidence, I guess I don’t remember them as well as I thought….

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Dycacian 01/06/2012 at 12:58 pm

AWESOME ARTICLE! I have to say i love the idea of throwbacks. Was it Michigan who wore the hard core throwback with the brown helmets this year? That was both ballsy and awesome. I thought that looked really cool, and was moved that they were able to honor their history like that.

If we did have a Uniform change, a yearly throwback is what I would want. I don’t want Auburn to be like Maryland, or Oregon. I wouldn’t want Auburn to do it all for every game of one season. But I love the idea of running a throwback once a year with a different style each time. It would last longer and start a tradition while keeping the current Uniforms the same (minus the allowed tiny tweaks).

I also think it would be a REALLY cool idea if Auburn and Georgia ran throwback uniforms to honor the first game between the teams that make up oldest rivalry in the south.

Mountain Ladies 08/02/2013 at 8:31 am

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Matured BBW Wife 08/02/2013 at 9:21 am

Hi there just wanted to give you a quick heads
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I’m not sure if this is a formatting issue or something to do with internet browser compatibility but I thought I’d post to let you know.
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Great Boobs Work 08/09/2013 at 6:29 am

Thats somewhat Offtopic, but i thought you might give me
an advice. On the subject of registering and hosting a domain name, I have no idea what I must do.
A. Should I register and host at the same place? Or B.
Should I register my domain name with one company and host it with another?

I would want to do A, but therein lies my problem.
I want to register my domain name with GoDaddy, because I
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BatjacAU 10/29/2013 at 2:13 pm

Just a comment about a mistake on the 1978-1980 wear of orange jerseys. It is often quoted and always wrong. Doug Barfields teams wore orange jerseys four times and were 2-1-1. The wins were against Miss State in 79 and USM in 80. The tie against UGA in 78 and the loss to UGA in 80. Don’t believe me. Go find a 81Glomerata or go here and look at page 117. That’s Charles Thomas at QB and James Brooks at tailback against someone who is definitely not Gerogia, it’s USM the week before UGA.

Steve Powell 02/18/2014 at 11:46 am

I was at the Georgia game that we wore those orange jerseys. They were NOT the shade depicted in this drawing. They may have been off somewhat, but they were a deeper burnt orange. I know that I, along with the other students, went crazy when we saw the orange uniforms. It fired the team and the crowd up. Awesome game!

paul reeder 02/18/2014 at 8:11 pm

I cannot understand why Auburn does not claim all their National Championship
teams I believe there are 7 or 8…why sit back and listen to Bama folks claiming

Mitch Crumpler 09/13/2016 at 11:01 am

I agree, Paul. By the way, are you the Paul Reeder who has published a book? If so, I may know you from way back.

Reply - Two Real-Life Matte Auburn Helmets 06/04/2014 at 10:13 am

[…] now that I’ve handled the faux-traditionalists (what you think has always been has not always been), let’s take a look at two Auburn helmet concepts constructed by […]

Reply - No Visible Football Uniform Tweaks in 2014 08/12/2014 at 10:36 am

[…] I’m good with all of that, but I still want the pants stripe to go all the way down (I really want them to look like this). I want the names and numbers back to 2010 size, and I want the sleeve stripes to be more than a tiny little patch. Other than that, 2014 will be another year of the mostly-traditional. […]

Reply 10/07/2014 at 10:51 pm

This post is worth everyone’s attention. Where can I find out more?


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