While the look of the Auburn football team has changed only slightly throughout the years, that’s not the case for the guys manning the sidelines. Spanning three different centuries and dozens of different trends, the men that make up the Auburn Football head coaches fraternity have been at the forefront of some interesting and groundbreaking fashion choices.
We travel back in time nearly 130 years to the late 1800s, when Auburn was barely 35 years old and the trends of the time looked like this:
Enter Georgie Petrie, Auburn’s first football coach. He bucked the trends in implementing a new athletic team on the Plains, but he wasn’t one to look like a fool in the process.
Always dapper, always on point with the crisp collar and dimpled tie.
He embraced the changing trends of fashion later in life, deciding to bald gracefully and adopt the hat and go with the more traditional and classic look.
Trends hadn’t changed much when Johnny Heisman stepped onto campus to head up the football operation, but he would experience the shifting sands of haute couture during his time at Auburn and subsequent stops. Here he is looking much like Petrie with the starched and pointed collar, and (if I’m not mistaken), are those the 1899 version of Croakies?
However, when it came time to hit the practice field, Heisman pulled out the cords and a mock turtleneck, matching it with the newsie hat to keep that perfectly coiffed part in place.
After a stint at Auburn, Heisman began to age and you can see he’s clearly done with this crap in this photo taken during his time at Clemson. Still, you must admire the crewneck pairing with the cardigan, a classic look that one can still pull off today.
Iron Mike Donahue came next and still fancied up with the same stiff collar and incredible tie dimple.
But like his predecessors, he was able to rock the turtleneck sweater, although those Dudley Dursley hand-me-down pants need to be taken in a bit. Wear clothes that fit, gentlemen. It’s the true key.
Donahue spent over a decade coaching at Auburn, during which time the fashions of the day became more and more like what we see now. Take Boozer Pitts, collar turned down, smart black bowtie, dapper blazer, and perfect part making him a true man of the Roaring Twenties.
However, like the stock market crash of 1929, Pitts crashed Auburn’s success in the mid-Twenties, never having a winning season.
Turn your attention to Jack Meagher, a Notre Dame man, who had to have had his pick of the Fighting Irish ladies as a player in South Bend.
But liked to dress the part as a coach at Auburn with the football pants and crewneck sweater.
Meagher’s teams won the first bowl game in school history, but the outbreak of World War II derailed his tenure and the Tigers had to turn to a true post-War man in Earl Brown. Just look at that flowing bowtie in younger years.
And then the deer in headlights look that Brown must have had quite a bit during his time, where Auburn went just 3-22-4 on the field. Still, the simplicity of his look below with the sleeve logo is a nice reach into modernity. Brown was truly ahead of the times.
Ah, now here’s a true rugged man, who could truly make any look work for him. Here’s Shug in his best practice-casual chic.
And now with the accessories, you could never be this cool. Paul Newman, James Dean, John Wayne, get out of here. Shug’s got no time for you.
A classic 1950s look comes next -- the squeaky-clean decade sees a nice mixture of looks with the football pants and cleats couple with a spanking letterman’s jacket.
And later Shug, embracing the Andy-Griffith-gone-fishin’ style in his hat and early Members Only jacket look.
Now, for big games (and the popularity of color photography), Shug had to make sure he stood out. The 1960s and 1970s were a revolutionary time for fashion, and Shug wasn’t going to fall behind.
Edging into modern times, the fully-buttoned placket a look that’s gaining traction now, as Haley Center looms in the background. Shug looks mildly uneasy, pressed with the task of having to navigate Auburn’s most famous labyrinth.
Once the true rugged man left, there was nowhere to go except down. Auburn struggled on the field under Doug Barfield, and Barfield struggled to find anything good to wear.
Too much plaid, you know Barfield went home to brown carpeting and wood-paneled walls, then made a sandwich in his orange or green-tiled kitchen. The late 1970s were a rough time.
Thankfully, we got a man who was all about simplicity to come next. Pat Dye loved defense and the running game, and didn’t want to pontificate too much in any area. Here he couples a simple button-down with a camo hat for a hunting trip. Still, like his Tigers on the field, he had an ace in the hole, here it’s the suspenders. Bear can only stand awkwardly by, shrouded in mediocrity with his paltry wardrobe.
In fact, Pat had himself a very clean look most of the time — here’s the three-piece suit at his famous introductory press conference.
60 minutes, indeed.
He was known to pair his bread-and-butter shirt and tie with either a sportcoat or a windbreaker.
Here he is again with the suspenders and Harbaugh pleats, in a time when those weren’t so frowned upon.
Another classic look.
You can see his bevy of hats as well, ranging from the more flashy to the simple.
The shirt-and-tie combo stayed on with Terry Bowden, but Terry ended up bringing in a more modern offense and some more modern 1990s duds in addition. Note the windbreaker.
Sans outerwear, likely a hot early-season game on the Plains. Bowden’s tie choice was consistent and classic. A favorite among Auburners.
Here we see the same tie, same hat, but the windbreaker gets flashier. It was fashionable then, I know I was guilty of the same sins at the time.
A cleaner pullover look from Russell, I would still wear this today and wouldn’t get too many glances. This is vintage, not tacky.
After Bowden, we entered the time of the heavy-knit cotton polos. Nobody did more in that department than Tommy Tuberville. Here’s Tubs a couple years before he became head coach at Auburn.
Now we get two Auburn coaches in one picture — Tubs rocking the original sweater vest (but doing it poorly... too large, coach!), and yet another heavy cotton polo. The sleeve lengths have gotten better in recent years, praise him.
Another one. The different “Auburn” script on the front adds a little flair, but Tuberville looks like he’s off to a golf tournament rather than to the sideline. Tubs also did do golf chic very well.
However, he embraced modern styles with the pullover near the end of the Russell days.
And once Auburn became an Under Armour school, Tubs got a whole new array of clothes with which to mix and match.
Although his layering got bulkier and bulkier toward the end of his tenure. Here he is wearing several layers before the 2007 Iron Bowl.
And again in Morgantown the next season.
Now we get to one of the most fashion-forward coaches of our time. However, Gene Chizik didn’t rock the boat early. He’s seen here in a simple baggy Under Armour polo and slacks early in his career.
But then the layering started.
And continued (we were inside in the below picture, there’s no way it was cold).
But his best known look will always be his custom shackets.
Chizik got Auburn equipment manager Dana Marquez to hem these himself, and so Gene enjoyed true originals.
The full-zip is another interesting choice. Can’t say I endorse it, but to each his own.
And then would ya look at that. Gene decided to get more gaudy with the giant Auburn logo splashed on the back of his once-simple shacket.
But perhaps his greatest look was the Auburn-branded black leather jacket.
Here he is in later years with another shacket at North Carolina.
And then enjoying a simple Under Armour layering choice with the t-shirt and the long sleeves.
But Gene knew how to dress “smart casual” with this patterned button-down and black slacks.
And finally, we hit the modern day. Gus Malzahn started the same way that Chizik did in wearing simple polos, but he too created his own fashion trend among Auburnites.
The solid polo is always a good, simple look.
But in 2013, Gus broke out the sweater vest and long sleeves combo. Here he is in Knoxville with the solid blue vest.
And in Fayetteville outshining Bret Bielema before an ass-whooping.
Again, the solid blue vest was a favorite for Gus in 2013.
But his grey patterned vest that he debuted for the Kick Six was something else. It certainly carried a little magic that night.
And then he topped himself in the BCS Championship against Florida State with the Ditka-era Bears-style Auburn vest.
It’s versatile, and can be coupled with long or short sleeves.
But down the stretch of the regular season, Gus opted for a little more warmth with the quarter-zip pullover in favor of the vest.
He rocked both Georgia and Alabama in this look.
And while the vest is his trademark, Gus has been seen around town in various headwear.
Here’s the straw floater hat.
And, once his family told him that his thinning hair was quite evident, he switched to the full hat for a while.
And another time in Fayetteville again.
In fact, you can take a look at the Auburn Uniform Database and see how Auburn has performed under certain outfit combinations from the head vest.
But, our previous head coach will always be the boldest when it comes to his wardrobe. Here’s Gene nonchalantly rocking the popped collar on the beach.
And camo shorts while serving chicken fingers.
He’s a true gem. We’ll always be thankful for the national championship he oversaw, and for his gifts to the world of fashion.
If we missed any looks, submit your favorites in the comments below! War Eagle!