Posted on: February 17, 2011 10:45 am
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Perhaps not surprisingly, given the timing of the announcement yesterday, a suspect has been taken into custody in the case of the poisoned oaks at Auburn's famous Toomer's Corner.
Television station WTVM of Columbus (Ga.) reported this morning that Harvey Almorn Updyke, 62, of Dadeville (Ala.) -- otherwise now known to college football fans the country over as "Al from Dadeville," the handle chosen for himself when calling into the Paul Finebaum Show -- has been arrested and charged with criminal mischief in connection with the oak poisoning.
Law enforcement officials will be holding a press conference Thursday morning to discuss the details of Almorn's arrest. Per the Opelika Auburn-News , first degree criminal mischief in Alabama is a Class C felony punishable by one to 10 years in prison. Updyke's bond has been set at $50,000.
Updyke has also made a handful appearances on the Internet, commenting on this TMZ story on the Cam Newton scandal "auburn cheating again burn auburn burn woo eagle LOL" under the name "harvey updyke."
Photo via WTVM .
Posted on: February 16, 2011 5:17 pm
Edited on: February 16, 2011 5:55 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Georgia has the Hedges, Ole Miss the Grove, and at Auburn Tiger fans have the 130 year-old live oaks that sit at famous Toomer's Corner and are "rolled" after Tiger victories. But sadly, thanks to the work of one unknown vandal, Auburn may not have them much longer.
The University announced this afternoon that the trees have been intentionally poisoned with a lethal dose of herbicide, and though every effort is being made to save them, are unlikely to survive. A police investigation has been launched to identify the vandal.
In the biggest twist behind the story, the only-in-Alabama tip that alerted Auburn authorities to the poisoning may also become the lead towards apprehending the culprit:
The university learned that a caller to The Paul Finebaum Show, a nationally syndicated radio show based in Birmingham, on Jan. 27, claimed he had applied the herbicide. As a precaution, soil samples were taken the next day ... and sent to the lab at Mississippi State University in Starkville, Miss., to expedite results.
Though not officially confirmed by the Auburn release, the caller is widely believed to be an aggrieved Alabama fan. For weeks, fan chatter in the state has discussed the possibility of "retaliation" for Auburn fan pranks that included placing a Cam Newton jersey on the on-campus statue of Bear Bryant, later affixing an AU national championship sticker on the statue, and somehow growing this year's Iron Bowl score in the lawn outside Bryant-Denny Stadium (though news of the latter only surfaced after the call to Finebaum). Such is the atmosphere that the release includes a message from Auburn president Jay Gogue asking Tiger fans to refrain from any acts of retaliation of their own:
"It is understandable to feel outrage in reaction to a malicious act of vandalism," Gogue said. "However, we should live up to the example we set in becoming national champions and the beliefs expressed in our Auburn Creed. Individuals act alone, not on behalf of anyone or any place, and all universities are vulnerable to and condemn such reprehensible acts."
Though, again, Alabama isn't mentioned, the reference to other universities makes it clear that Gogue knows where the ire of Tiger fans will be directed.
Whether the motivation for the vandal was indeed revenge against Auburn or not, what's certain is that someone has committed an act of vandalism that will be virtually impossible to repair. With any luck -- for both the feelings of Auburn fans stung by the news and for the efforts to make sure this incident is the last on either side -- that person will be apprehended soon.UPDATE: Finebaum has re-released the audio from the call in question , in which "Al from Dadeville" expresses his anger at the Newton jersey prank and the almost certainly apocryphal story that Auburn fans rolled Toomer's when Bryant passed away. He then claims to have poisoned the trees, and signs off with "Roll Damn Tide." Unless this is an astonishing coincidence, the answer to the question at the top of this post is "yes."
Posted on: November 9, 2010 5:23 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
Word came out late last night that according to a Foxsports.com report, Auburn quarterback (and Heisman frontrunner) Cam Newton had been involved in multiple academic incidents at Florida, and that he was facing expulsion if he had returned for the spring semester. Damning stuff, to be sure, but curious in its details. Why was that information coming out now, years after the fact and to no effect on Newton's eligibility? Why did the reporter, Thayer Evans, only have one source cited in his report? What was up with all of this, exactly?
One fact that was generally taken for granted, though, was that Evans' report was more or less accurate. The allegations were specific and of such little immediate consequence that it made no sense for Evans' source to make them up. And yet, if the story's accurate, what's up with this report from AuburnSports.com that Newton, in fact, never faced the Florida Student Conduct Committee?
Two independent sources with detailed knowledge of the UF academic discipline system during the period in question have disputed the Evans story. According to the sources, no allegations of academic impropriety regarding Cam Newton were sent to the Florida Student Conduct Committee at any time either during or after Newton's time at UF.
Now, it's important to realize that just because the allegations never made it to the committee doesn't necessarily mean they didn't happen at all, just that they never made it to that step, for whatever reason. But if they didn't, that's a pretty big deal all the same. It certainly undercuts the idea that Newton was on the brink of expulsion -- AuburnSports.com's sources indicated that nobody facing the type of allegations Newton reportedly faced ever got expelled in the 2-3 years that source was at the department.
At any rate, Auburn fans should breathe easy tonight. Evans' report is at best debatable and at worst lousy, and it shouldn't have any effect on Newton's eligibility, focus, or Heisman candidacy. Sure, the other investigation is still ongoing, but the NCAA hasn't even seen fit to investigate Auburn on that front yet. Things just might be okay, Tiger fans.
One last thing worth pointing out, however, is that the source of these leaks doesn't necessarily have to be someone who's at Florida right now, but someone who was at Florida while Cam Newton was there. Someone with intimate knowledge of Newton's athletic and academic situation. And someone with a vendetta against Newton for whatever reason. Let's see, who could possibly fit that bill?
Posted on: November 9, 2010 11:50 am
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Ever since the news broke about Cam Newton and the NCAA's investigation into his recruitment, rumors have surfaced that Newton's former head coach at Florida, Urban Meyer, was the whistleblower on the case. While there hasn't been any proof, rumors don't need facts, they just need people to start them and watch them spread. Plus, when you consider that former Tennessee head coach Phillip Fulmer is guilty of doing the same thing in the past, in a lot of minds, that only adds credence to the rumor.
Well, Urban Meyer wants you to know that the rumors aren't true. Meyer told The Gainesville Sun that the rumors of his involvement in the Newton investigation are "ridiculous."
"Obviously, it's a joke," Meyer told the paper on Tuesday. "I don't know anything about anything. I heard they've got me meeting with the agent and all that. I never met with anybody. It's ridiculous.
"... we had a great relationship right up until the time he left. Cam and I and his family always had a great relationship. I don't know where this is all coming from. But it didn't come from me. I know nothing about nothing."
For some reason reading that last quote, I envision Meyer as Edward G. Robinson in some old gangster movie talking to the cops. "I don't know nothing about nothing, see. You'll never catch me, copper."
Meyer can deny the rumors all he wants, and whether he's telling the truth or not, most minds have already been made up on the situation. Personally, I'm not entirely sure what's truth and what's fiction. I had severe doubts that Meyer was involved until I heard The New York Times' Pete Thamel on Paul Finebaum's radio show on Monday afternoon.
Finebaum asked Thamel straight up about whether or not Meyer was one of his sources for the story, and the way Thamel dodged the question was somewhat suspicious in my opinion. To me, if Meyer wasn't involved, all Thamel would have had to say was that Urban had nothing to do with it. The fact he didn't do that, well, it makes me somewhat suspicious.
Posted on: November 5, 2010 11:31 am
Edited on: November 5, 2010 11:32 am
Posted by Tom Fornelli
There's been a whole lot of crazy going on since the news broke on Thursday that the NCAA was conducting an investigation at Auburn about the recruitment of quarterback/assault vehicle Cam Newton. The story broke when it was reported that agent and former Mississippi State football player, Kenny Rogers, allegedly tried to solicit $200,000 from Mississippi State to get Cam Newton to transfer to Biloxi after he left Florida.
It's a story that Newton's family has denied ever happened, along with denying that Rogers has ever worked for them. So far, given the amount of evidence that has shown anything to the contrary, and the words of Newton's head coach Gene Chizik, all signs point that the Newton's have done nothing wrong. According to a report on AUTigers.com -- which, we admit, may be a touch biased in this situation -- that's exactly the case.
A source "very close to the Auburn athletics department" told them there's absolutely nothing to any of this.
“There is no evidence whatsoever of any contact between Mr. Rogers and anyone on the staff at Auburn University or anyone associated with Auburn University,” the source told the site.
“There have also been no NCAA allegations made against Auburn University or anybody on the Auburn staff regarding the recruitment of Cam Newton. This is a really sad and disgusting situation. Cameron Newton and his family have become the victim of a rogue agent with a questionable past and of other people who are out to hurt Cam Newton and his family."
Who exactly those people are trying to hurt Newton and his family, I don't know, though Paul Finebaum seems to think he does.
It's not all that crazy to think that Kenny Rogers, if he did ask Mississippi State for the money to get Cam Newton, was acting on his own. Maybe he thought that if he got $200,000 he could keep some of it and then use the rest to try and sway Newton to reunite with his former offensive coordinator, Dan Mullen. I'm not saying that this is what happened, but given everything we've learned about agents and college football players this year, does anything surprise you at this point?