It's almost been a year since that dreadful day that Harvey Updyke poisoned the oaks at Toomer's Corner. I still remember receiving the email from Auburn and multiple texts as the news of 'some crazy Bammer on Finebaum' spread. After my anger over the news had subsided some (it will never completely be gone), I wrote this letter to Harvey Updyke and felt it appropriate to share as I still feel the same way a year (and one National Championship won) later.
I do not start out this letter with the customary 'dear,' because dear is FAR from what you are to me. Until this week, you were just a former Texas state trooper who lived in Dadeville, Alabama as the father to two unfortunately named children, Bear and Crimson. Now your nickname 'Al from Dadeville' produces over 387,000 results on a google search. You must be pretty damn proud of yourself, huh? The man whom you named your own son after, Bear Bryant, once said, "I have tried to teach them to show class, to have pride, and to display character. I think football, winning games, takes care of itself if you do that." Now the question I implore to you, is do you really think your 'wonderful divine Bear' would be proud of your behavior? The answer is no. The words class, character, pride, and school spirit do not describe your actions in any way, shape, or form. A better choice of words would be: malicious, hateful, disrespectful, criminal, and murderous. I'm not sure if you consider yourself a Christian man, 'ol Al, but if for nothing else, you have fatally harmed two of God's beautiful creations that have proudly marked the corner of Auburn's campus for 130 years. In addition, you have destroyed a sacred place for the Auburn family. Now, if I was any sort of vindictive person, I might contemplate defacing the statue of Bear Bryant outside of Bryant Denny stadium, or finding an old houndstooth hat of Bear's and burning it to ashes. But I won't do either of those things because I one, have more class than that, and two, it would not have anywhere NEAR the same meaning as what you have taken from us. Bama fans have "traditions'' of the million dollar band, the rammer jammer cheer, and your elephant. I hate to break it to you, but these are not traditions. These are mascots, cheers, and representations of your school pride. You and all your fellow Bammers do not come together to participate in these 'traditions' after a victory. These things do not bind you together. We, Auburn tigers, did have a tradition that bound us together and made us a family, and you have taken it from us. For decades Auburn fans of all ages have met at the corner to roll the trees after victories. The tradition began when Toomer's Drugs had the only telegraph in Auburn. During the away football games, upon an Auburn victory, employees of Toomer's would throw the ticker tape from the telegraph into the oak trees to signal a win to the public. This is more than the 2010 National Championship, Cam Newton, Nick Fairley, and Coach Chizick. This is even more than Pat Sullivan, Pat Dye, Bo Jackson, and Shug Jordan. Generations of Auburn fans have watched with pride as their children rolled the trees that they too had rolled years before. Unfortunately, you don't have this experience with Bear and Crimson because no such tradition exists at Bama. I've seen several proposals take place under these trees. When those couples have families and take their children to that sacred spot, the ambience under the shade of the trees will no longer exist. What you have taken from every Auburn fan, is unforgivable. David Housel once said, "There are as many definitions of Auburn as there are Auburn men and women. It would be safe to say, however, that Auburn is much more than a football game. It is much more than winning and losing. It is a spirit. It is an attitude. It is a way of looking at life and at one another. It is, almost, a way of living. Unless you have experienced it, you will never know what it is; you will never understand it. Once you have experienced it, you will never be the same. A part of you will, forevermore, be an Auburn man or an Auburn woman.” You obviously have never experienced feelings anywhere near these for Bama, because if you had, you would have never dreamt of taking away something so precious- no matter the rivalry. Congratulations on your headlines, and your sense of personal victory for destroying such an irreplaceable Auburn tradition. However, the Auburn spirit will not waver and Jordan Hare won't implode as a result of your actions. The lines of the Auburn Alma mater "and hold in memory as we do now" will have new meaning, as we all will have to remember our dear Toomer's trees. But as you wallow in your hatred (and/or your jail cell), just be aware that generations of Auburn graduates will continue after you are long gone. Auburn will still win Iron Bowls, SEC Championships, National Championships, and have Heisman Trophy winners. The eagle will still circle the stadium, and the orange and blue will still fight on fearless and true. So to you, 'Al from Dadeville,' there are only three words I have left to say to you, 'War Damn Eagle.'