Tag:Toomer's Corner
Posted on: January 25, 2012 4:07 pm
Edited on: January 25, 2012 4:08 pm

Auburn's Gogue approves plan for Toomer's Corner

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Auburn president Dr. Jay Gogue has approved a committee recommendation that will keep Tiger fans rolling the famed Toomer's Corner despite the impending loss of the site's poisoned oak trees--but that doesn't mean some big changes aren't coming to the Corner all the same. 

With the current oaks unlikely to survive beyond this fall, the school's Committee to Determine the Future of Rolling Toomer’s Corner presented a two-part plan to Gogue: one, that the trees would be permanently replaced by one or more similar-sized specimens (likely a different species of oak), and two, that a second committee would be assigned to determine a temporary solution for rolling the corner during the three-to-five year period before the new oaks were ready. Gogue signed off on the plan this week.

“Dr. Gogue did approve the recommendation of the committee and we’re moving forward this week,” said Auburn Communications Director Mike Clardy. “We’re not going to wait to spring to start planning."

The good news for Tiger fans is that the replacement process and temporary solutions won't be put into practice until 2013 at the earliest. The oaks are expected to be in good enough shape to withstand rollings during the 2012 football season, with the same safeguards established during the 2011 campaign -- such as removing the toilet paper by hand -- still in place.

“Live oak wood is hard,” said AU horticulture professor and Toomer's Task Force member Dr. Gary Keever this week. “If you want to roll them, fine.” 

But while there remains a chance the oaks could pull through and render the recommendations and planning moot -- Clardy says the "next step" is to reassess their health -- Keever warned fans not to get their hopes up.

“I would not bet they’d be alive next fall,” he said in Tuesday's committee meeting.

And once the current oaks have died, that's where the changes start. While decisions on exactly what species of tree will serve as replacements are still in the distant future, what's certain is that they will not also be live oaks; the coastal species prefers wetter soil than found in Auburn and would be highly difficult to grow to the current oaks' size at all, much less in the given timeframe. Keever will recommend that overcup oaks be used instead.

As for that temporary solution, it's still too early for many specifics. ("There’s not a tremendous rush," Clardy said, since the oaks would last through 2012.) But the final recommendation is likely to be something man-made, potentially a system of wires.

That's not likely to sit too well with Auburn fans accustomed to the oaks' organic presence (for lack of a better term) at the Corner. Alleged poisoner Harvey Updyke is already public enemy Number 1 among the Tiger faithful; three-to-five years of rolling wires followed by the introduction of a different species of oak isn't going to do a thing to change that.

Reporting by the War Eagle Reader.

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Posted on: January 20, 2012 7:13 pm
Edited on: January 20, 2012 7:28 pm

Report: Harvey Updyke rejects 13-year plea deal

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Accused tree-poisoner Harvey Updyke has rejected a plea deal that would have sent him to prison for 13 years and -- maybe more importantly where Updyke is concerned -- prohibited him from ever attending another Alabama sporting event. 

ESPN's Mark Schlabach reported Friday that Updyke declined the plea deal "earlier this month." Updyke is scheduled to go to trial for poisoning Auburn's beloved Toomer's Corner oak trees in the Lee County (Ala.) Circuit Court March 5, but current Updyke attorney Everett Wess has requested a delay in the trial, a change of venue, and a recusal from the presiding judge.

Wess is asking that the trial be moved out of Auburn and that judge Jacob Walker III step down over his participation in an Auburn season ticket pool.

Updyke was indicted last May on two felony counts of criminal mischief, two misdemeanor counts of desecrating a venerable object and two more felony counts of an Alabama law that prohibits vandalizing or stealing any property on or from an animal or crop facility. Updyke could face as much as 42 years in prison if convicted on all counts.

Though Updyke has maintained his innocence, he has also admitted to being "Al from Dadeville," the Paul Finebaum radio show caller who boasted he had poisoned the oaks in late December 2010. Updyke has since called into the show multiple times to apologize for his actions, leading to a break with his fourth attorney, Glennon Threatt. 

The oaks are not expected to survive, forcing Auburn to search for options to keep the traditional rolling of Toomer's Corner intact. The most likely approach, as recommended this week by the Committee to Determine the Future of Rolling Toomer’s Corner, will be for the oaks to be replaced by similar-sized trees once the chosen saplings have grown large enough, and for a temporary object or objects -- like some kind of wire structure -- to be used as a temporary solution until the trees are ready.

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Posted on: June 1, 2011 2:02 pm

Mullen compares Toomer's Corner to cowbells

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen made sure that he wouldn't be picking up any fans at Auburn on Wednesday afternoon by comparing the poisoning of the oak trees at Auburn's Toomer's Corner with the ban on cowbells at Mississippi State. Mullen made the comparison when speaking to reporters on Wednesday.

One one hand, I completely understand what Mullen is saying. When Harvey Updyke allegedly poisoned the trees at Toomer's Corner, he did so as a way to hurt Auburn and Auburn fans. Revelling in an Auburn victory at Toomer's Corner has been a tradition amongst generations of Auburn fans. The same can be said of generations of Mississippi State fans annoying the hell out of opponents with cowbells over the years. So I get what Mullen is saying when he says that people wanted to hurt an Auburn tradition.

The difference is that the trees at Toomer's Corner weren't sentenced to death by a vote amongst the SEC, as MSU's cowbells were by a 9-1 vote years ago. The cowbells are banned from use during SEC games in Starkville, though that really hasn't done anything to stop State fans from bringing them to the game and using them. The school just pays a fine every year, and everybody lives happily ever after while giving opponents a headache.

Those oak trees, however, should they die, will be gone forever. Sure, new ones can be planted, but trees don't just grow over night. If a Mississippi State fan has their cowbell taken away, they can easily buy another one. Century old trees aren't sold on the corner.

Posted on: May 18, 2011 11:37 am
Edited on: May 18, 2011 6:00 pm

Indictments hit Harvey Updyke

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

It's been a big 24 hours for the legal system in the state of Alabama, as grand juries have handed down two high-profile indictments.

The first is of accused Toomer's Corner oaks poisoner Harvey Updyke, against whom a state grand jury issued six new indictments May 11, the Birmingham News reported yesterday. In addition to his previous district court charge of first-degree criminal mischief, Updyke now also faces "two counts of criminal mischief, two counts of desecrating a venerable object, and two counts of a state law that includes making it unlawful to damage, vandalize, or steal any property on or from an animal or crop facility."

Updyke will be arraigned on the new charges May 26, with his trial currently scheduled to begin June 20. (The trees Updyke stands accused of poisoning are, unfortunately, not doing well at the moment.)

Posted on: April 20, 2011 5:36 pm
Edited on: April 20, 2011 5:56 pm

Attorney: Harvey Updyke attacked after hearing

Posted by Adam Jacobi

The sordid tale of Harvey Updyke, the Alabama enthusiast currently accused of poisoning the Toomer's Corner oak trees at Auburn, has taken a rather disturbing turn. According to Glennon Threatt, Updyke's attorney, Updyke was attacked behind a nearby gas station after his hearing today, and he was briefly hospitalized with a head injury.

According to al.com, Updyke received a split brow, facial bruises, and a possible concussion; there's also some concern that Updyke may have lost consciousness at some point. Threatt announced the attack on Paul Finebaum's radio show shortly after it occurred, and if that sounds odd, let's keep in mind that Updyke is only facing trial because he himself confessed to the poisoning on Finebaum's show back in January. 

Details on the attack are still thin; there's no video of the attack, much less a suspect or a name or anything, but Jay Tate of the Montgomery Advertiser is confirming that the attack did occur, and that Updyke is currently meeting with the Opelika Police Department. 

It's a shame, but not a surprise, that a rivalry so inflamed with passion and consequence has turned so, so ugly. Neither Updyke's alleged poisoning of the oaks nor his subsequent attack have any place in American society, much less the day-to-day travails of college fandom. It's infantile savagery, the type of loutish behavior that debases the entire state of Alabama in one fell swoop. The choice is clear: Alabama and Auburn fans must either grow up or resign themselves to being the hysterical, bloodthirsty manbabies of college football.

Posted on: March 29, 2011 12:21 pm
Edited on: March 29, 2011 12:22 pm

Toomer's Corner trees are doomed, for now

Posted by Tom Fornelli

The future of Toomer's Corner has gone back and forth ever since the news originally broke that Alabama fan Harvey Updyke had poisoned the famous trees. At first Auburn's beloved oak trees were doomed, and then there was a chance that the trees could survive. In between, Updyke went through roughly 300 lawyers before finally finding one that had no relationship with Auburn.

Whoever will be defending Updyke, their job just got a bit harder. Thanks to the latest sampling of the soil at Toomer's, it's now believed that the trees don't have much chance for survival.
New soil samples from the Toomer's Corner trees allegedly poisoned by a disgruntled Alabama fan show the herbicide traveled much deeper than originally thought, WTVM in Columbus reports.
As a result, it's looking less likely that Auburn University's historic oaks can be saved.
By the end of April, their new leaves should be big enough to see if they too are infected with the herbicide, Spike 80 DF, the station reported.
In other words, we should expect to hear about 15 different diagnoses on the trees before the leaves let us know whether or not they're infected. How will the leaves tell us? I'm not sure. Probably some kind of tree psychic or leaf whisperer. Yes, I know they could easily find out in a lab, but this story has gone down enough crazy paths already to convince me it'll be a leaf whisperer.
Posted on: March 7, 2011 12:42 pm

VIDEO: Toomer's Corner gets a rap song

Posted by Chip Patterson

The tree-poisoning crime at Toomer's Corner has inspired all kinds of action from the Auburn community, musical tributes included.  This isn't quite Puffy rapping "I'll Be Missing You" with Sting and Faith Evans, but certainly the thought counts.  Not to mention, the trees might survive this whole debacle.  But just in case they don't, we will always have this musical tribute from former Auburn basketball player Francis Aihe.

The 6-foot-10 baller-turned-rapper now goes by the name "Young IE" and teams up with "YT" for "Can't Forget Our Tree."  This was IE's second chance to capitilze on a popular internet trend, after his "Orange/Navy" remix of "Black and Yellow" fell into the diluted waters of the 1,000+ other Wiz Khalifa covers on YouTube.

Hat Tips Abound: Doc Saturday, War Eagle Reader

Posted on: February 26, 2011 3:31 pm
Edited on: February 26, 2011 3:32 pm

Could Toomer's oaks survive?

Posted by Tom Fornelli

I've spent a lot more time writing about trees in the last few weeks than I ever planned to, but this Toomer's Corner soap opera just will not die. Harvey Updyke, the man who poisoned the famous oak trees on Auburn's campus, goes through lawyers than Lindsay Lohan goes through rehabs. Seriously, this story is to college football what Ronnie and Sammi have become to Jersey Shore. An unwanted distraction that is taking up too much time in our lives.

That being said, there just isn't a whole lot going on in the college football world right now, so we have to make do with whatever news we get. So here's some good news for Auburn fans everywhere. It seems that the oak tree situation may not be as dire as originally believed. The soil levels beneath the surface are showing a lower level of the herbicide than expected, and there's a possibility that the trees may survive.

"The good news is the concentrations are much lower than we initially detected in the beds around the trees. The bad news is we still detected herbicide," Gary Keever told al.com. "Is your glass half full or half empty? You can look at it either way. I choose to be an optimist because we're doing the right thing."

Keever is a professor of horticulture at Auburn and a member of a task force that is studying ways to save the trees.
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