UPDATE: An arrest has been made in this case, according to Birmingham TV station WBRC. The man charged with criminal mischief is a 62-year-old resident of Dadeville, Ala.
Some nut poisoned the ancient oak trees at Toomer’s Corner. Even if you’re indifferent toward Auburn — heck, even if you can’t abide Auburn — this should make you ill. Because this isn’t a harmless little joke. There’s monetary harm in vandalism. More to the point, there’s psychic harm in knowing the game that stirs Southern passions could spawn an act as vile as this.
Georgia fans were incensed in 2008 when Tech players broke off a few sprigs of hedge after winning at Sanford Stadium. (Georgia fans were likewise incensed when Bo Jackson and his Auburn teammates did the same in 1983.) Imagine the Bulldog outrage if those hallowed hedges hadn’t just been pruned but eradicated.
On Jan. 27, an anonymous caller to Paul Finebaum’s Birmingham radio show claimed he’d done the foul deed. Soil samples were taken the next day and tests — at Mississippi State, of all places — showed the presence of a poison known as Spike 8oDF. And here we pause to say:
An anonymous caller? Spike 80DF? Exactly what sort of world is it in which we live?
People get excited about football in the South. Sometimes excited people do silly things. The poisoning of trees goes beyond silliness. The poisoning of trees is, to use a word I don’t use lightly, evil.
There are times when I wonder if the games we follow are worth following. This isn’t just one of those times; this is the worst of those times.
By Mark Bradley