I believe that this is a practical world and that I can count only on what I earn. Therefore, I believe in work, hard work.
I believe in education, which gives me the knowledge to work wisely and trains my mind and my hands to work skillfully.
I believe in honesty and truthfulness, without which I cannot win the respect and confidence of my fellow men.
I believe in a sound mind, in a sound body and a spirit that is not afraid, and in clean sports that develop these qualities.
I believe in obedience to law because it protects the rights of all.
I believe in the human touch, which cultivates sympathy with my fellow men and mutual helpfulness and brings happiness for all.
I believe in my Country, because it is a land of freedom and because it is my own home, and that I can best serve that country by "doing justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly with my God."
And because Auburn men and women believe in these things, I believe in Auburn and love it.
-George Petrie (1943)
George Petrie (1866-1947) was a historian, college professor, and coach of Auburn's first football team. In addition to introducing football to what was then the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Alabama, Petrie brought innovative methods of teaching history to the university and mentored students who went on to become renowned historians.
Born in Montgomery on April 10, 1866, George Petrie was the descendant of prominent families from South Carolina and Georgia.
Petrie entered the University of Virginia in 1883 and graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in 1886, followed by a master of arts degree in 1887. Most of his studies focused on languages — especially Latin, Greek, French, and German — and moral and natural philosophy. He likely saw his first college football game while at Virginia.
Petrie completed his PhD in the spring of 1891, a year short of the usual time requirement at Johns Hopkins University. By June 1891, he had accepted a position as a professor of history and Latin at the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Alabama and returned to Auburn.
While a graduate student at Johns Hopkins, Petrie had grown to love the new sport of football that was sweeping the northern part of the nation in the late 19th century. Shortly after he returned to Auburn in 1891, Petrie organized and coached the college's first football team. The school played its first game, held in Atlanta, against the University of Georgia on Feb. 20, 1892, defeating Georgia 10-0.
The Agricultural and Mechanical College played a total of four football games that first season and amassed a record of two wins and two loses. In December 1892, before the college's second football season began in the winter of 1893, Petrie resigned as coach, citing his teaching and professorial duties as the reason.
George Petrie served as a professor and administrator at Auburn for 53 years. Petrie retired from Auburn University following an illness in April 1942. His wife, Mary, died on July 13, 1942. In November 1943, he wrote "The Auburn Creed," in which he encapsulated the college's spirit. George Petrie died on Sept. 5, 1947, at age 81. He is buried beside his wife in Pine Hill Cemetery in Auburn.