Auburn prepares to say goodbye to the trees

Well, this is it. The final hoorah. Tomorrow, after Auburn fans witness what they hope is the beginning of the resurrection of Auburn football in their spring game, they will gather around the Toomer’s Oaks one last time.

Traditions are what make college football great. But they are often stupid as well.

Traditions like cowbells. Or person playing dress up like an indian riding to midfield to throw a flaming spear in the ground. Or this:

Meant for butts, not trees.

As Harvey Updyke rots in jail…at least for a few more months…Auburn fans will gather to hurl paper designed to wipe leftover feces from one’s anus following defecation in trees they claim they love.

There are many things Alabama and Auburn fans don’t understand about one another, and I admit, this is one of those things. Auburn fans don’t understand why ‘Bama fans crave championships so much. Alabama fans don’t understand why Auburn fans want to engage in juvenile activity usually performed by teenagers in the front yards of friends or adversaries in the wee hours of the morning.

But as we remember the trees, also remember a couple of items of import. Long before the deranged former police officer named Updyke waddled into Lee County, Spike 80DF in hand, it was Auburn’s Alumni magazine that first reported that the trees were dying. The culprit? Auburn fans themselves.

On page 27 and 28, from the Winter 2007 edition of Auburn Magazine:

“In recent years, the university began using power washers to remove toilet paper from the trees, which is faster and more thorough than the manual method. Unfortunately, it also stresses out the trees.”

Scott Enebak, a self-proclaimed tree doctor from the Auburn School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, is quoted in the story was well. Enebak examined the trees “monthly.”

“I’m surprised, given the power washing, that the oaks are still here. It is really hard on the trees.”

With this information in hand, what did Auburn University do? It gets better.

“While campus planners realize that the powerwashing bodes ill for the trees’ health, Mouton (John C. Mouton, senior advisor to the AU president) says experts haven’t yet found a more effective and efficient alternative.”

The article, entitled “Too Late For Toomer’s Trees?” was written a full four years before Harvey Updyke’s ire led him to break the law. The article suggests that as early as 2002 an effort called the Toomer’s Oak Project was hatched to spawn future Toomer’s Oaks from seedlings of the current trees.

To put this in perspective, Auburn knowing that what it was doing was killing its trees and then being upset about Updyke’s actions would be like a pet owner abusing a dog then appearing vigilant when the animal was murdered.

Also lost in the outcry and mayhem in recent years was what Tide fans did for the trees on March 25, 2011, a full month before the April 27 tornado tragedy. The effort raised and donated $50,000 to the Toomer’s Trees and Traditions Fund…

$50,000 totally ignored by Auburn fans.

$50,000 totally ignored by Auburn fans.

…a gesture totally ignored by the ESPN 30 For 30 hack job “Roll Tide – War Eagle” documentary. Alabama fans were painted as sinister tree killers while Auburn fans were painted as compassionate philanthropists, showing efforts following the tornado tragedy.

Still, this weekend is it. Auburn plans to delay cleanup following their spring game to give as many Auburn fans as possible the opportunity to hurl one more roll of Charmin into the oaks…trees they say they love but have been killing themselves for years. And who knows. I may just be there to heave a roll myself. I just love history.


(Follow ITK on Twitter for Bama news, commentary and smack.)