With news that the famed oaks at Toomer's Corner have been poisoned and likely will die, all eyes now turn toward Tuscaloosa. Early reports point to a caller of The Paul Finebaum Radio Show, who bragged on air last month that he'd poisoned the trees.
Whatever the individual responsible was hoping to achieve has backfired and cast a shadow on Alabama that's indeed dark and grim. Auburn people are hurting today. A rivalry that has reestablished itself in recent years as the best in college football now has a real problem.
A threshold has been crossed that may be hard to reel back in anytime soon. Often times, hurt turns to anger. I imagine the anger phase for Auburn people will come fast.
It's important that cool heads prevail. One person's actions don't reflect an entire institution. Some of my best friends are Alabama graduates. They are sick and embarrassed over what has happened.
I would feel the same if someone vandalized Denny Chimes or any other Alabama landmark. I've said it before; one of the things that makes Auburn great is its rivalry with Alabama. I know most of them feel the same way.
I hope those considering retaliation will think twice. It may feel right today, but it will make you just as guilty and worthless as the person responsible for Toomer's Corner.
Forgiveness may never be possible. But remember, not all Alabama fans are responsible. Let's hope and pray that the actions of one sick individual doesn't ratchet up the heat more on a rivalry that has become too intense for anyone's good.
Update 9:10 a.m. - WTVM Television in Columbus, Georgia is reporting that an arrest has been made in the poisoning of the oaks at Toomer's Corner.
According to the story, "Auburn police arrested Harvey Almorn Updyke, 62, from Dadeville, AL. He will be charged with criminal mischief for applying an herbicide at Toomer's Corner."
Lee County law enforcement officials are holding a press conference at 10:30 a.m. CT to discuss updates to the case.