Friday, February 18, 2011

There’s Crazy, And Then There Is SEC Football Crazy

Oak trees at Toomer's Corner.
Around these parts, we like to think that ACC basketball is a big deal and that, as sport’s rivalries go, the Duke v. North Carolina rivalry is as intense as any in the land.


In the immortal words of M.C. Hammer: You can't touch this.

While we have long thought that big-time college football rivalries were a bit more intense due to the demographic of that portion of the fan base that did not attend any of the schools involved, this latest round of crazy may have forever elevated the Alabama v. Auburn football rivalry to the head of the line…

While the game is settled annually in the Iron Bowl, the chirping goes on 24/7, 365 days a year. 

That said, enter one Harvey Almorn Updyke.

Didn't the forehead tattoo give it away?
Harvey did not attend the University of Alabama but somewhere along the twisted path that is Harvey’s life, the bug bit him and he is now struggling to cope with the sting of is chosen fanaticism.

The sixty-two year old former Texas state trooper, reportedly fell in love with the Crimson Tide during his childhood.  To show his allegiance, he somehow convinced his wife to name one of his children Crimson and the other Bear. 

Distraught (presumably) over Alabama squandering a big lead in the Iron Bowl and his hated rival Auburn’s National Championship, Updyke has been charged with poisoning the 130-year-old live oaks at Auburn's historic Toomer's Corner.  War Eagle fans ply the famous old trees with toilet paper following each pigskin victory.

"I think [Updyke] is representative of a fringe element of fans right now who are angry about a lot of things," sports talk show host Paul Finebaum told the Birmingham News. "They are angry about Auburn winning the national championship, but they are equally angry about what happened at the game in Tuscaloosa, and about the fact that they don't believe Cam Newton should have been eligible, and they don't believe Auburn won a legitimate national championship."

(And yet they don't believe in the tooth fairy, mermaids, Santa Claus or leprechauns - except those that go to school at Notre Dame)

On Jan. 27, Finebaum received a call from an Alabama fan claiming to have poisoned the treasured oaks.  

"The weekend after the Iron Bowl, I went to Auburn, Ala., because I live 30 miles away, and I poisoned the Toomer's trees," "Al from Dadeville" told Finebaum.

The caller signed off with “roll tide.”

Clever fellow that he is, Updyke made the call from his home phone.

The trees are given almost no chance of surviving the Spike 80DF, or tebuthiuron, that Updyke is accused of applying in lethal amounts.

"It'll take divine intervention" to save them, former Auburn Athletic Director David Housel told the Atlanta Journal Constitution. 

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