Saturday, August 2, 2014

The Father of Auburn Football Backs the Tide

In December of 1934 the fortunes of Alabama's premier college football teams could not have been farther apart. The Alabama Crimson Tide had rolled to an undefeated season and were preparing to head to California and take on Stanford in the Rose Bowl . Across the state the Auburn Tigers had limped to a 2-8 record under first year coach Jack Meagher.

The founder of Auburn football, Dr. George Petrie, was interviewed at an Atlanta conference about his thoughts on the two teams and was sanguine about the state of affairs at the two programs. Although retired from athletics, the 68-year-old Petrie continued to teach history and remained dean of Auburn's graduate school.

"Alabama has the best football team in the country, except Minnesota. Auburn's one consolation this year is they didn't have to play Alabama."

Alabama went on to beat Stanford in the Rose Bowl, 29-13, and claimed the national championship. Minnesota, who were also undefeated, did not play in a bowl game and also claimed the title.

Despite the conciliatory tone, Petrie remained adamantly opposed to a renewal of the rivalry that had been curtailed in 1907 following a bitter accusations between the two teams. The two schools, he insisted, were against it.

"The state legislature can't make us play as has been suggested. For that matter we couldn't make the boys play if they didn't want to."

In 1947 the Alabama legislature did decreed the rivalry resume -- and then backed it up by threatening to pull funding to the schools. After a four-decade hiatus, Alabama and Auburn met again on the gridiron the following year.

Sources:

Associated Press, "Dr. Petrie Sees Little Chance of Tide-Tiger Game." The Tuscaloosa News. Dec. 3, 1934: 8. Print.

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