Alabama-Auburn Rivalry Reaches New Low: Tree Poisoning
It's come to this, the 130-year-old oaks in Auburn's majestic Toomer's Corner have been poisoned and are in the process of dying. A 62-year-old man from Dadeville, Ala. was arrested Thursday in connection to the tree-poisoning, but anyone with an IQ above 16 -- insert SEC fan joke here -- suspected Alabama Crimson Tide partisans were to blame from the outset. After all, no one else hates Auburn this badly. Not even close. Now the South's biggest mystery since Who shot J.R.? is unfurling across the region.
It's a whodunnit bedecked in moonlight and magnolias -- "To Kill a Mockingbird" meets to "To Kill an Oak Tree."
Somewhere in Monroeville, Ala., the South's most famous living writer, Harper Lee, is quietly shaking her head. A tree-hating Boo Radley's afoot. Who could be so diabolical? Will ESPN refashion it's "Never Graduate" commercials to replace the nursing home partisans with botanical assassins? Or will the network just give up on satirizing the rivalry. After all, you can't satirize crazy. And every time we think we've seen the most ridiculous SEC antic, the state of Alabama is always there to remind us that we were sorely mistaken. Nope, they've seen your crazy and raised it beyond the point of contemplation.
How crazy are football fans in Alabama? Everyone in the rest of the SEC even thinks they're crazy. Think about this for a moment: the rest of the people in college football's biggest insane asylum have a profound respect for the insanity that is Alabama. But this latest mess, the killing of the trees, left Auburn fans comparing the trees dying to the murder of family members. Seriously. When I tweeted this consoling message to Tiger fans: "Auburn fans: The trees aren't dead because Cam Newton doesn't know the trees are dead. NCAA concurs," one of my followers was aghast:
@jeramye: "thanks Clay. I feel like a family member was murdered and you are making more Cam jokes. STFU"
He really wrote this. Other Auburn fans backed him up.
Immediately, the voice of the state, Paul Finebaum, put on his CSI sunglasses and attempted to determine who was behind such a calamity. Could it have been a caller to the show back on January 27th who bragged that he'd poisoned the trees? That caller, you can listen to it here, who identified himself as "Al from Dadeville," said, "The weekend after the Iron Bowl, I went to Auburn because I live 30 miles away, and I poisoned the Toomer's trees."
The caller said he'd poisoned the trees with tebuthiuron, also known as Spike 80DF. The next day, Auburn, having heard the call, tested the soil. The test came back positive, the trees were in mortal peril, destined to die. Auburn fans reacted with a fury not seen in the South since the battle of Shiloh. Additional police officers were dispatched to Tuscaloosa to guard the statues outside Bryant-Denny Stadium. Bedlam threatened to reign. This was Alabama's own Bay of Dead Trees.
Thank God neither college has nuclear weapons.
Welcome to the SEC's own fun-house mirror, the state of Alabama. No matter which angle you look at in the mirror, the distortion boggles the mind. Rather than allow the state to descend into further arboreal madness -- it's truly only a matter of time before President Obama brings back troops from Iraq to keep the state of Alabama from descending into civil war -- I've got a solution that is so absurd and ridiculous it will actually get the attention of all the imbeciles and bring them back to the straight and narrow -- don't play the Iron Bowl for a year.
The country's most storied rivalry has descended into a vituperative pit of discord that doesn't befit the actual game. Message boards have stoked the fury, crazies have found each other and bonded on the Internet, this cauldron of small-time convicts and big-time losers has taken over the game and the people with the most at stake in this rivalry -- you know, the small minority of fans who actually went to either college -- are being swept aside by a rising tide of idiocy. Alabama's always been crazy about football, but somehow this year the state came completely untethered from reality.
So you want to really teach the dumbest Alabama and Auburn fans a lesson? Do what you do to children who can't behave themselves: take away their favorite toy. Send them to bed without supper, teach them that discipline is real and it exists in this world. Teach those fans who are actually intelligent to self-police the idiots. Don't play the Iron Bowl for a year. The only thing worse than losing the Iron Bowl? Not getting to play it at all.
And if you aren't willing to actually follow through with it because of scheduling difficulties, at least make the threat public.
As soon as SEC commissioner Mike Slive made the threat, he'd do the unbelievable: unite Alabama and Auburn fans behind a common enemy. Is there really someone in the state who believes that something is more important than the Iron Bowl? He must be a damn Yankee! Yep. And he might be just crazy enough to do it.
Otherwise, the stupidity is going to continue to escalate, like some modern-day version of the Hatfields and the McCoys, until someone, doubtless a "fan" who wasn't even capable of graduating from high school, actually dies over this insanity.
Seriously, has a football rivalry truly come to this? That you have to worry about a drive-by on a college campus? That you have to assign additional officers to protect campus relics? Is this Tehran or Tuscaloosa? Auburn or Beirut?
Yes, it was stupid to poison the trees; yes, Alabama and Auburn is the best rivalry in sports, but it's also becoming the most dangerous. A powder keg of dynamite that threatens to blow at any moment. This year is the nastiest I've ever seen it between Alabama and Auburn fans. (It also may have been the best game between the two of all time).
And I don't see it getting better anytime soon. Not until some sense of sanity returns. Not until the fans with the college degrees actually take charge of this rivalry.
Until then, "CSI: Finebaum" is on the case. And as @CaptainAnnoying tweeted me, channeling David Caruso from the television series: "What kind of person would do this?"
"The ROOT [puts on sunglasses] of all evil."
Let's catch him.
Follow Clay Travis on Twitter here. With All That and a Bag of Mail back on a weekly basis, you can e-mail him questions at Clay.Travis@gmail.com.