Despite plans to replace the Toomer’s Corner oak trees on the campus of Auburn University, famously poisoned by retired Texas State Trooper and world-class weirdo Harvey Updyke, Jr., by the start of the 2014 season, Auburn officials recently announced a delay to the project. According to a report in the Birmingham-based news source al.com, the new trees, replacements for the 80-year-old oaks cut down last spring, won’t be able to be planted until early 2015.
Upset after Auburn upset the Crimson Tide in 2010, Updyke called into the Paul Finebaum radio show and admitted to spiking the trees with the Spike 80DF, a powerful herbicide lethal to plants at .1 parts per million. Four years after the poisoning, soils samples tested by university horticulturists still detect the herbicide at a concentration of 0.78 to 51.7 parts per million, making the area still too contaminated to plant the new trees. “There’s significant herbicide still present in the soil,” says Gary Keever, a professor of horticulture, at Auburn University. “It just doesn’t look like it’s going to happen by then because of the extent of the herbicide.”
The Toomer’s Corner oak trees were a significant part of the tailgating and football culture at Auburn for decades and the site of one of the most beloved traditions among Tiger fans. After important home wins fans would pour into the corner of Magnolia Avenue and College Street to roll with trees with toilet paper. After more than three years of effort to save the oaks, they were removed on April 23, 2013, following a final celebration at the conclusion of the annual spring game. The new oaks, once planted, will be part of a $1.2-2 million plan to redevelop Toomer’s Corner.
Loyd McIntosh is a freelance sports writer from Birmingham, Alabama. He graduated with a B.S. in English of the University of Montevallo, was a former college soccer player, and has been published in dozens of newspapers and magazines over the past 20 years. He currently writes for the Birmingham Magazine, B-Metro, Discover St. Clair, and Tailgater Monthly. He lives in Pell City with his wife, Elizabeth, and daughters Lily and Emily Grace.