Alabama Football: USA Today Takes a Subtle Stab at Crimson Tide

Jimmy McMurreyAnalyst IIAugust 27, 2011

USA Today: Depending on your viewpoint, it's either full enlightenment or full of liberal excrement. Both parties, however, can agree that they do a pretty good job conveying sports news. 

Friday's edition of USA Today contained a special college football preview section, separate from the typical sports section. 

"Are rivalries getting out of hand?" is sprawled across the top of the article. On that page there are four large pictures depicting rivalries. 

At the bottom you have a picture of a Texas A&M player stiff-arming a Texas Longhorn. 

Above that, you have Oregon fans gleefully raising their push-up happy mascot above their heads. 

Above the duck you have a shot of Terrelle Pryor, formerly of Ohio State, performing a simple handoff to the running back during the annual rivalry game against Michigan—the rivalry game those in the north call the greatest rivalry of all time (a claim the residents of Jordan-Hare and Bryant-Denny scoff at). 

What picture is at the very top, however, just below the headline? A shot of none other than Toomer's Corner, a place unknown to everyone but Auburn and Alabama fans and reporters.  Well, unknown until Harvey Updyke hit the talk radio scene implying he may have poisoned the famed oak trees at Toomer's.

Both Tide for Toomer's and Toomer's for Tuscaloosa have raised large quantities of money for one another.
Both Tide for Toomer's and Toomer's for Tuscaloosa have raised large quantities of money for one another.

The article then greatly details the situation with Updyke and the Alabama-Auburn rivalry. They do actually mention Tide for Toomer's and Toomer's for Tuscaloosa, though. 

So what makes this article a left-handed compliment, a subtle stab at Alabama? The picture of the oak trees is not just depicting the sickening leaves, but rather recent victims of toilet paper rolling by unnamed hooligans. Nowhere in the article does USA Today specify who covered the trees in toilet paper. 

The first sentence of the article reads, "The suspected handiwork of college football's most notorious fan remains on full, inglorious display," and then goes on to begin discussion of the herbicidal attack. 

Beneath the picture itself reads, "Attack on icons: Crews work to remove toilet paper from two poisoned oak trees Feb. 17 at Toomer's Corner in Auburn, Ala., before spraying the leaves with a coating."

Again, USA Today does not specify who rolled the toilet paper, but they do imply a nuttier-than-a-squirrel-turd Bammer was involved (it's a shame they didn't mention his kid's names). Yes, USA Today completely failed to mention that the rolling of the oaks at Toomer's is a tradition older than the Vietnam War—a tradition of Auburn's beloved fans. 

To suggest that USA Today wasn't keen on this tradition is foolish. The paper is the second largest in America, behind only the Wall Street Journal, a paper not known for its sports insight.  Therefor, USA Today is the largest paper that covers sports in the country. 

USA Today then goes on to mention, buried at the end of the article, that Gene Chizik and Nick Saban both issued official statements that the Updyke fiasco was an isolated incident. 

The article did mentioned how the cities have helped each other in recent months, but chose to depict the Iron Bowl rivalry with an "isolated incident" and neglected to acknowledge who was responsible for the strewing of the rear-end paper and has much of the article focus on Harvey "Bonkers" Updyke. 

It was implied that the article was going to cover college rivalries as a whole. This was basically accomplished with a mere list of the rivalries games and a picture of a Clemson player kicking a South Carolina Gamecock. 

The rest of the article was largely focused on vilifying Updyke, yet failed miserably to communicate how Updyke has become a bogeyman in Tuscaloosa too, hated by Bammers and Barners alike.

To have a heavy discussion about Harvey Updyke in an article representing all college football rivalries and the Iron Bowl is a great disservice to two storied programs, Alabama specifically. 

One crazy man cannot be the face of many generations of civil rivalry. 

And, of course, the mysterious toilet paper strewer is never named.