Tag:Harvey Updyke
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: 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.
Posted on: February 25, 2011 2:45 pm

Friday Four Links (and a cloud of dust), Feb. 25

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Every Friday we catch up on four stories you might have missed during the week ... and add a few extra links to help take you into the weekend.


1. Future scheduling is very much in the news today, with discussions about moving the new Big 12's biggest in-state rivalry games to Dec. 3 and the Big East finally releasing its 2011 slate. But maybe nowhere is it more in the news than at Nevada, which is desperately trying to work its way out of a brutal road stretch (at Oregon, at Texas Tech, at Boise State, all back-to-back-to-back) ... but still found the time to tentatively schedule a home-and-home series with Oregon State for 2017 and 2018. (Is there a way to schedule them for that far ahead that wouldn't be tentative?)

2. Yes, Virginia, when you would have already been the clearcut No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft, you need some kind of insurance policy when you decide to go back to school. Andrew Luck's is worth $5 million already and could wind up being worth even more , depending on the new NFL collective bargaining agreement.

3. Your weekly Friday Four Links position coaching update: former Minnesota assistant John Butler is South Carolina's new special teams coordinator ; Louisville defensive line coach Clint Hurtt will not be accepting Auburn's offer of the same position following Tracy Rocker's departure; which means former Butler colleague with the Gophers Tim Cross is, by process of elimination , the likely front-runner on the Plains; and well-traveled assistant Danny Barrett is the new running backs coach at UCF.

4. Despite saying the scandal that erupted around Cam Newton "kind of stained almost everybody" involved with it -- including himself, we presume -- Dan Mullen also said he had "no regrets" about his Mississippi State program's recruitment of Newton or its handling of the situation. No regrets aside from the part where Newton chose Auburn and went on to win the Heisman and a national championship, it's safe to assume.


Tennessee junior cornerback Art Evans spoke publicly for the first time since being reinstated following a three-month suspension; Evans missed the last six games of 2010 after falling behind on his car payments ... In addition to his infamous call to the Paul Finebaum radio show, accused Toomer's Corner oak poisoner Harvey Updyke may have also bragged about committing the crime on an Alabama fan site ... More buzz is buzzing about Oklahoma countering Texas's "Longhorn Network" with one of their own ... Remember former Florida and Ole Miss defensive back Jamar Hornsby? If you do, it won't surpise you to learn he's currently in jail ... Without Nebraska, does the Big 12 have enough quality games for its television obligations?

Posted on: February 22, 2011 4:36 pm

Third time isn't the charm for Updyke

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Okay, this is getting ridiculous. Earlier on Tuesday afternoon I wrote about Jerry Hauser. Hauser was the second lawyer in a matter of days who had been assigned to defend Harvey Updyke against the mischief charges he faces for poisoning the trees at Auburn's Toomer's Corner to ask off the case. Now, merely a few hours later, Updyke has been assigned a third lawyer.

A third lawyer who has already asked off the case.
Jerry M. Blevins, who was assigned the case Tuesday morning, filed a motion Tuesday afternoon asking to be removed from the case. He's the third defense attorney to ask to be removed.
Blevins also asked the District Court in Lee County to delay a March 2 preliminary hearing that was assigned by the court Tuesday.
Blevins, in court papers, said he asked to be removed because an "irreconcilable conflict arose" between he and Updyke.
What was the irreconcilable conflict? It doesn't say, but given the recent history here, I'm guessing Blevins' cousin knows a guy who once dated a girl who saw an Auburn football game on television, and the wound from that failed relationship is just too fresh for Blevins to handle this case.

Seriously, at this point, I'll be Updyke's lawyer. I have never studied law, and I've never even seen a scene from Law and Order, but I do know enough that being charged with first degree mischief* isn't exactly a jailable offense. I'd just stand in front of the jury, say my client already admitted he committed the crime on a radio station, and tell them to give him community service and probation.

There.  Problem solved, case over, and we all move on with our lives.

*By the way, imagine if you did go to prison for mischief. You're sitting in your cell with your new bunkmate, an arsonist who killed an entire family in a fire he started, and he asks you what you did to get in there. "Mischief." I bet the rest of the prisoners would be terrified of you!
Posted on: February 22, 2011 12:56 pm

Nobody wants to be Harvey Updyke's lawyer

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Last week, the most famous tree poisoner in the history of Alabama, Harvey Updyke, lost his court-appointed lawyer due to a conflict of interest. Phillip Tyler had been Updyke's lawyer but filed a motion to be let off the case due to the fact he's a professor at Auburn, and has "numerous personal and family ties" to the school. So the court appointed Updyke a new lawyer, and now that lawyer has filed another withdrawal motion.

Jerry Hauser was given the case after Tyler, but on Tuesday morning he asked to be taken off the case as well due to his ties to Auburn. It seems Hauser's wife is the head of the Department of Communication and Journalism at the school. So no doubt she'd use her communicating prowess to let her husband know that he should set Updyke up for the death penalty.

Seriously, are there no public defenders in the state of Alabama that went to Alabama? Can't they find a single lawyer in the state with "Roll Tide" on its business card?

I mean, Nick Saban signs 40 players a year to the football team, surely one of them has to have a law degree by now.
Posted on: February 18, 2011 4:36 pm
Edited on: February 18, 2011 8:59 pm

Alabama fans start 'Tide For Toomer's' charity

Posted by Adam Jacobi

In the wake of the herbicidal attack by Harvey Updyke on Auburn 's famed Toomer's Corner oak trees , there's been no shortage of people wondering if the Iron Bowl rivalry had finally, well, "gone too far." Alabama athletic director Mal Moore immediately condemned Updyke's actions , of course, but condemnations don't bring trees back.

Fortunately, a group of Alabama fans are committed to fixing precisely that problem, and have started a "Tide For Toomer's" fund to help raise money to restore or replace the stricken oaks . Better yet, the group is already wildly successful ; almost 20,000 people have become fans of the the charity on Facebook in its second day of existence, and the charity has raised over $8,000 (and counting).

As with all good charities, every penny raised is going to Auburn's "Toomer's Trees and Tradition Fund," so there's no impropriety here, it's just a solid gesture from thousands and thousands of classy Alabama fans. See, fans of the rest of the SEC? They do exist.

Not every Alabama fan is enamored with the idea, of course; a cursory glance at the comment section at Roll Bama Roll indicates some resistance to the gesture, calling it presumptive and not the Alabama fanbase's responsibility. Both of those things are true, but the entire point of a classy gesture is that it's above and beyond responsibility, and that's what we have here. There is no nobility in declaring that a crisis is somebody else's problem, no humanity in arrogantly admonishing victims. It's good to see that nearly 20,000 Alabama fans have acknowledged exactly that, and that Updyke has been reduced to a cowardly, sad buffoon in the eyes of both Alabama and Auburn fans.

Posted on: February 18, 2011 1:00 pm

Harvey Updyke's lawyer wants off the case

Posted by Tom Fornelli

The country's most famous tree-killer, Harvey Updyke, may have to find himself a new lawyer. When Updyke was arrested for poisoning the trees at Auburn's Toomer's Corner the court appointed him a lawyer, Phillip O. Tyler. Well, Tyler doesn't really want to handle the case and he's filed a motion to remove himself from it.

Why? Well, Tyler's current law firm represents Auburn, and he's a part-time professor at the school. He also lives in Auburn and is a fan, saying that he has "numerous personal and family ties to Auburn University."

Which would be what we in the business call a "conflict of interest." I can only imagine the type of defense a lawyer from Auburn would craft for an Alabama fan who may have destroyed Toomer's Corner. It would probably be something along the lines of standing in front of the jury and screaming "He did it! He killed the trees! I urge you to sentence him to death!"

Which would likely please the Auburn fan base, but it wouldn't reflect too kindly on the American judicial system.
Posted on: February 17, 2011 4:25 pm

Further details released on accused oak poisoner

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

The release of court documents pertaining to the case of the poisoned oaks at Auburn's Toomer's Corner has revealed several more details about alleged perpetrator Harvey Updyke.

Perhaps most crucial among them is that though Updyke has admitted to making a pair of phone calls in which he boasted about spiking the trees with an herbicide named "Spike 80DF," he claims he was not the one who actually poisoned the famous oaks.

The first of those phone calls is Updyke's now-infamous appearance on the Paul Finebaum radio show on Jan. 27, but the documents affirm that Updyke also left a voicemail with an Auburn turfgrass management professor, claiming knowledge of the poisoning. A review of phone records and a comparison between the voice on the voicemail and the Finebaum recording gave law enforcement a phone number which they then traced to Updyke.

Updyke was then arrested early this morning at the Auburn police department. At this time, reports have conflicted over whether Updyke has met bond or not.

Clearly, having twice publicly confessed to the crime, no one will regard Updyke as a criminal mastermind if he proves to be convicted. But for Auburn fans grieving the almost-certain loss of their 130 year-old landmark, embarrassment isn't likely to be punishment enough.

Photo via WTVM .

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com