If you gave me 50 guesses which state would feature a pair of historic campus trees being intentionally poisoned by a rival fan base, I would guess Alabama every time. Nothing in that state surprises me.
Granted, Alabama and Auburn is the best rivalry in all of sports, but it also has a toxic fan hate that produces pure insanity. When NBC news travels to Auburn to report on the insanity of your state's football obsession on a national news broadcast, it's not a good sign.
The latest absurdity in the Alabama-Auburn rivalry comes via Harvey Updyke, a 62-year-old retired Texas state trooper who allegedly poisoned the trees at Toomer's Corner. Now that he's free on bail and in need of a lawyer -- I volunteered to be his attorney, pro bono, on Twitter -- can you imagine the insanity that would come from a jury trial?
This would have to be televised, right?
I'd watch every minute. Who does Updyke call as character witnesses? His children, and I'm not making this up, who are named Crimson and Bear? Greg McElroy? Paul Finebaum? Certainly not Nick Saban who issued a statement condemning the act. The entire trial would be a circus. And I think you'll probably need a trial because I don't know if the local district attorney would be able to plea this case down. Not if he wants to keep his job anyway. Local residents are going to demand zero leniency.
After ruling on a motion to change venue -- holding the trial near Auburn it's hard to argue that there would be much chance of jurors who hadn't made up their minds -- can you imagine the jury selection, the voir dire, if Updyke demands a jury trial as opposed to a bench trial? Weeding out Alabama and Auburn partisans would leave you with six residents in the entire county.
This entire trial would just turn into a comedy pyramid, the latest complete satire to emerge from the state of Alabama. That's why I'm ready to work for free to represent Updyke. And for the record I've represented drug dealers, murderers, and those charged with criminal assault and battery before. So a tree assassin is child's play. I'm ready to roll.
Anyway, our beaver pelt trader of the week is Derek Dooley for his performance at Nashville's SportsFest on Saturday. During a 45-minute interview, Dooley killed -- not any trees, fortunately -- describing himself as 8-7 in post-game handshakes and his rising quarterback Tyler Bray as "7'2" and 128 pounds." Seriously, he was outstanding.
On to All That and a Bag of Mail. By the way, if you haven't read my Alabama/Auburn tree column, you'll probably want to do that now before you hit the mailbag. All of the e-mails come in response to that piece.
Jennifer B. writes:
Your tree article was completely disrespectful. I bet you were dancing in the streets when the Twin Towers fell too.
This is Auburn's 9/11, show some respect!
Did you really evoke the memory of 9/11 for two 130-year-old trees that are slowly dying? Really?
By your horticulture logic Pearl Harbor like when a group of elementary school kids tramp through a verdant pasture and then, cover your eyes, pluck dandelions from the ground and blow the spores across the field.
Oh, the humanity!
Congrats, Jennifer, you just dialed back the Auburn sympathy meter to zero.
Craig R. writes:
Is the irony of murdered trees that were routinely and repeatedly adorned by toilet paper (uh, other dead trees) completely lost on the Auburn faithful?
Craig, how dare you!
Didn't you hear Jenny? This was Auburn's 9/11! I bet you're the kind of person who doesn't fall to the earth and raise your hands to the heavens when kids pluck dandelions and blow their spores across the pasture.
(And, yes, the irony of requiring the killing of trees to celebrate the trees is lost on them).
Judith J. writes:
Really, have never heard such vituperation from a person who doesn't understand anything about being a resident of the state of Alabama. We , as a whole perfectly reasonable people. (At least we don't elect Nancy Pelosi as our senator!!!! )
Your could have written a civilized column and served a good purpose.
Nancy Pelosi is a congresswoman. No one, Alabama or otherwise, has ever elected her to the Senate. Thanks for taking time off from writing angry screeds about Obama's birth certificate to shoot me an e-mail.
It was much appreciated.
Tracy C. writes:
Your state is absolutely CLUELESS about college football!!! I lived in San Francisco in the 90's and when Alabama was playing for the National Championship vs. Miami in Jan. 1993, Nobody knew who "Bama" was! I wore pins and lapels all over my flight attendant suit, and I've never came across so many IGNORANT San Franciscans in my life!!!
We live, eat, sleep and breathe Football here in the State of Alabama! Why? Because we have a LEGACY!!!! A FOOTBALL TRADITION OF NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS AND COACHES!!!! How dare you make fun of that!!!!
Maybe you should be writing an article about the CHEATER WHO WON THE HEISMAN TROPHY and took them to the National Championship!!! THAT WAS ALL FRAUD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
My favorite thing about this email -- and there are many -- is the ACCUSATION that I live in San Francisco. Also, the insult over people in San Francisco not knowing "who Bama was." And the INEXPLICABLE capitalization THAT IS used THROUGHOUT.
I also love the idea of Alabama fans as "redneck terrorists." An idea that I would not have ever come up with if Tracy C. hadn't written in. Clearly that was my goal.
But the pivot in the final two sentences from defending the state of Alabama's honor to attacking Auburn. Golf clap. Nicely done. Especially keeping the same tone of indignation going. You didn't even break stride. Speaking of which, several readers emailed and Tweeted me that Cecil Newton should be in charge of replacing the trees. Just give him $180k and the ability to go out and find some juco trees.
Hell, it worked once before.
Mark H. writes:
I enjoyed your mockery of Alabama and the broad brush you chose to write with.
However, as a professional, I do research and edit everything before I put my name on it.
Your knowledge of the SEC and Alabama is obviously innuendo and from what you've seen on college game day Saturday mornings. For instance, should you have done some research on the rivalry you would of found out that an Alabama or Auburn fan dies in a bar fight over which university is better almost annually.
"Otherwise, the stupidity is going to continue to escalate, like some modern-day version of the Hatfields and the McCoys, until someone, doubtless a "fan" who wasn't even capable of graduating from high school, actually dies over this insanity. "
I'm all for the tone of your story, it's ridiculous. I just can't stand 'professionals' jumping on band wagons uninformed.
You're right, I've never been to Alabama for a football game. (Excepting the past decade during which time I've been there every year for at least one).
So you want me paint with a broader brush? And jump on a bigger band wagon? Alabama and Auburn fans don't kill each other every year. In fact, it almost never happens. Now, Alabama fans occasionally shoot each other. But actual murder is, fortunately, rare.
Your an idiot.
You truly make all Alabama residents seem like absolute idiots. Born in Pa and raised in the south, I am proud to be a die hard Auburn fan. Alabama fans have poisoned trees that are over a 130 years old and you make it a big joke. You are probably a pathetic geek that was picked on as a child, and feel the need to bash the athletes that always picked on you..... Go FU@$ yourself!!! You sissy Fag.
The logic on this email is so strained. I believe that Head is suggesting that trees are athletes. And that I'm gay because I didn't show enough respect for trees. Clearly, the heterosexual community is well known for its tree love. Whereas gay people's disdain for trees is legion. Especially old trees.
And the number of times that people begin e-mails to me by saying, "Your an idiot," has to be a record in the country.
Let me just use this opportunity to offer Harvey Updyke legal representation anew. I'm licensed in Tennessee and the U.S. Virgin Islands, but several Alabama attorneys have offered to bring me into the state for this case and serve as co-counsel.
It's the case I was born to try. Plus, Harvey knows me from my appearances on the Paul Finebaum show.
Give me a buzz, Harvey. I can be your Johnnie Cochran.
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.