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The Founding Fathers of SEC Football

With the start of Alabama's Southeastern Conference schedule and the recent hullabaloo over the sanctity of the the gridiron traditions therein, I thought it might be time to see how well versed everyone actually is with the history of these programs.

For the most part, each school presently in the SEC saw their respective football program inaugurated in the early 1890s. In most cases this occurred as a result of one man - usually with some experience with the game due to time as a student in a northern institution - taking the initiative to organize and coach the team.

So here is a list of the men who deserve the credit for beginning the many programs that have prospered over the last 120-years-or-so as well as a list of the glorious teams they founded which we know today. Both columns are listed alphabetically. How schools can you match correctly with their football founders?  Answers, of course, are after the jump.

The Founders Of SEC Football
1) Alabama a) A.L. Bondurant
2) Arkansas b) Charles E. Coates
3) Auburn c) William Dudley
4) Georgia d) John C. Futrall
5) Kentucky e) Charles Herty
6) LSU f) William G. Little
7) Ole Miss h) W.M. Matthews
8) Miss. State i) A.M. Miller
9) Vanderbilt j) George Petrie

I must note that Florida, South Carolina and Tennessee have been left off of this list since it seems there isn't any single person who can be credited with the organization of their respective football programs (and Florida's peculiar institutional origins complicates this even further). If anyone has any better information about these teams, I'd love to hear it.

Answers: 1f, 2d, 3j, 4e, 5i, 6b, 7a, 8h, 9c

Photo: (l to r) Futrall, Dudley, Little, Petrie, Herty


Alabama, William G. Little

A native of Alabama, Little was a student at a New England prep school in the early 1890s where he learned the game. When a death in the family brought him back to the Yellowhammer state he brought his uniform, at least one ball and an love of the game that prompted him to organize the University of Alabama's first team in 1892.

Arkansas, John C. Futrall

Futrall was a Latin professor at Arkansas Industrial University (later changed to the University of Arkansas) who organized and coached the school's first football team in 1894. He served as chairman of the Athletic Committee or as manager of the team until 1914 when he became the school's president.

Auburn, George Petrie

Petrie became the first Alabamian to earn a Ph.D. when he was awarded his doctorate from Johns Hopkins University in 1890. He returned to his home state taking a position at Agricultural and Mechanical College of Alabama (later renamed Auburn) and introduced the game he had learned in Maryland. Petrie organized the school's first football team in 1892 and took them to play the newly-formed University of Georgia team, coached by his friend from Johns Hopkins, Charles Herty.


The University of Florida was created by legislative fiat in 1905 although the school's two predecessor institutions fielded football teams before that date. Jack Forsythe, who had been a coach at one of those earlier schools, became the first football coach of the team at the new Gainesville campus. Forsythe had played at Clemson under John Heisman.

Georgia, Charles Herty

After earning his Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University in 1890, Herty returned to his native state and was later hired by the University of Georgia as a chemistry professor. He began organizing the school's athletic programs including the formation of a football team. He served as the team's inaugural coach during the 1892 season and later proved instrumental in developing the program as the school's first faculty director of athletics.

Kentucky, A.M. Miller

Miller joined the staff at Kentucky State College (later the University of Kentucky) in 1892 as a professor of geology and zoology. He was familiar with football from his time as a student at Princeton and agreed to be the coach of the team after being approached by the students. He helped organize the inaugural team, pushed the construction of a grandstand to view the games and coached it that first season

LSU, Charles E. Coates

Coates, a native of Maryland, was hired as a chemistry professor by LSU in 1893. He, like Georgia's Herty and Auburn's Petrie, learned football at Johns Hopkins University. Upon his arrival in Baton Rouge he immediately went about organizing the school's first football team and coached the squad's first game against Tulane.

Ole Miss, A.L. Bondurant

Bondurant, who would later become the dean of the Ole Miss Graduate School, was instrumental in the formation of the University of Mississippi's first athletic association in the early 1890s. He subsequently served as the manager-coach of the football team upon its creation in 1893.

Mississippi State, W.M Matthews

A Mississippi A&M (later Mississippi State) agriculture student from Texas named W.M. Matthews is credited with organizing the school's first team in 1893. He served as the captain, coach and manager of the inaugural squad and is credited with choosing the team's colors of Maroon and White.

South Carolina

A group of students at South Carolina organized the school's first team in 1892 and even arranged the squad's first game against Furman on Christmas Eve in Charleston. The contest was not sanctioned by the University. The team's their first head coach, W.H. "Dixie" Whaley was brought on in 1896.


Charles Plumb and Charles Summers championed athletics at the University of Tennessee in the late 1880s with the organization of intramural competitions. A football club was formed in 1890 and the two professors helped organize sandlot games at the school. H.K. Denlinger, a player from Princeton, was brought in as a coach and he put together the school's first intercollegiate game in 1891.

Vanderbilt, William Dudley

Dudley, the dean of the Vanderbilt University Medical School, was instrumental in forming the school's athletic association in 1886. That led to the first football team which played their first game against the University of Nashville in 1890. Dudley played a key roll in the creation of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association in 1894, an predecessor to the Southern Conference and Southeastern Conference. He was also instrumental in the formation of the NCAA in 1906.