Blog Entry

Did a Tide fan kill the oaks at Toomer's Corner?

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.

The lowest amount detected was 0.78 parts per million, described by horticulture experts as a "very lethal dose." The highest amount detected was 51 parts per million, or 65 times the lowest dose. 

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."


Since: Oct 7, 2011
Posted on: October 18, 2011 11:43 am

Did a Tide fan kill the oaks at Toomer's Corner?

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Since: Feb 17, 2011
Posted on: February 17, 2011 1:53 pm

Did a Tide fan kill the oaks at Toomer's Corner?

How do you feel now that "Big 'AL'" has admitted that he did the deed?

Since: May 2, 2008
Posted on: February 17, 2011 11:21 am

Did a Tide fan kill the oaks at Toomer's Corner?

Paul Finnebaum had a horticulture guest on this morning that said a similar incident happened in Texas and the gentleman was sentenced to 9 years in prison. OUCH!!!!

The guy who claimed responsibility for this has been apprehended. Paul asked him in his original call if it was illegal to poison trees. He said" Do I sound like I'm worried about the law?" He was a real and I'm sure he is worried now.

Since: Oct 5, 2006
Posted on: February 17, 2011 10:32 am

Did a Tide fan kill the oaks at Toomer's Corner?

Did you not hear the tape?  It was pretty obvious this guy was a very passionate Alabama fan.  I would agree that most Alabama fans find this act to be pretty shameful but try going to RollTideRoll and read all the posts of Bama fans celebrating.  Go on Youtube and see the Bama fans who made videos reenacting the crime.  Pretty sad!  Putting a jersey on Bear is good clean fun.  Ruining one of Auburn's biggest traditions, disgusting. 

Since: Aug 25, 2006
Posted on: February 17, 2011 10:09 am

Did a Tide fan kill the oaks at Toomer's Corner?

Nice article. Did you get out your Li'l Detective Jr. Kit® and come up with this assumption?


How do you know it was not a Georgia fan? They too are a hated rival and were pretty upset after what they thought was a dirty game with the Tigers this past season.


For that matter, how do you know it was not an Auburn fan trying to get Alabama in trouble in a lame attempt to take the focus off Auburn's troubles?


Regardless of who did this, I am pretty sure most Alabama fans find this a reprehensible act.

Since: Feb 17, 2011
Posted on: February 17, 2011 8:57 am

Did a Tide fan kill the oaks at Toomer's Corner?

I've never posted here before and registered this AM just to do so. Don't care about Alabama or Auburn football, but respect both programs. Harmless pranks are just that. I, for one, have outfitted my stepson with a PSU jersey for the return trip to his ND-loving dad ... no one hurt, nothing damaged. Poisoning trees is utterly despicable and the vandal should do jail time and/or be held financially responsible.

Since: Jun 21, 2007
Posted on: February 17, 2011 8:54 am

Did a Tide fan kill the oaks at Toomer's Corner?

All that said... it is more likely that it is the work of an Auburn fan, and the story released on the same day as the investigation into recruiting practices in Louisiana is released.

Coincidence - probably not.

Since: Jun 21, 2007
Posted on: February 17, 2011 8:09 am

Did a Tide fan kill the oaks at Toomer's Corner?

Whoever this person is had better not show up around me.  I take it seriously when someone tarnishes the Alabama name... and I don't call that person a fan and certainly don't want them anywhere near me when I cheer for my team.

Since: Oct 29, 2010
Posted on: February 17, 2011 4:49 am

Did a Tide fan kill the oaks at Toomer's Corner?


Since: Nov 13, 2010
Posted on: February 17, 2011 4:46 am

Did a Tide fan kill the oaks at Toomer's Corner?

all I can hope is that you are caught and punish to the full extent of FEDERAL LAW. I can"t say how I really feel and will have to pray for that.

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