Whether in his role as one of the nation’s foremost historians or as the first Auburn Tiger football coach, George Petrie played a critical part in both Auburn’s evolution as a modern academic institution and in the founding of its athletics program. Not only did Petrie observe and record many of the important decisions that shaped the modern Auburn University, he made them. As the Tigers’ first football coach, Petrie assembled Auburn’s initial team in 1892 and literally taught the eager, but totally inexperienced cadets how to play the game. He selected burnt orange and navy blue as the team’s colors, then borrowed enough money to supplement his own meager funds and buy its uniforms. Along with fellow Johns Hopkins alumnus Charles Herty of the University of Georgia, Petrie then arranged the first true intercollegiate football game ever played in the Deep South, leading Auburn to a 10-0 victory over Georgia in Atlanta’s Piedmont Park. Before the amazing year of 1892 was over, Auburn would also play its first intercollegiate baseball game as well as three more football contests—all arranged, promoted, and coached by Petrie. Auburn Man: The Life and Times of George Petrie recounts these formative years in the history of Tiger athletics with loving attention to detail, but it is also an account of the people and events behind Auburn’s academic evolution from a struggling agricultural and mechanical college to a modern, comprehensive university. Indeed, the story of Petrie’s remarkable Auburn career, which spanned more than a half-century and culminated with his writing of “The Auburn Creed,” is the very story of the college itself. By bringing such Auburn giants as Petrie, William Broun, Luther Duncan, Cliff Hare, and Ralph “Shug” Jordan to life, Auburn Man tells that remarkable story—one which every Auburn person needs to know.
Mike Jernigan is founding editor and editor emeritus of Auburn Magazine, the alumni periodical of Auburn University and a two-time Auburn alumnus with a master’s degree in history. After retiring from the Auburn Alumni Association in 2004, he lived in the Cayman Islands before returning to Auburn, where he taught history at Lee-Scott Academy. He has been a freelance contributor to numerous periodicals including Coastal Living, World War II Magazine, American Eagle Latitudes, Airways, and Cayman Airways Skies. He is also co-author of a second book, After the Arena, with former Auburn football coach Pat Dye.
Hardcover. Publisher: Donnell Group.