Auburn: Are College Rivalries Getting Out of Hand

Josh McCainSenior Writer IFebruary 18, 2011

TUSCALOOSA, AL - NOVEMBER 26:  Quarterback Cam Newton #2 of the Auburn Tigers rushes upfield away from Will Lowery #29 and Marcell Dareus #57 of the Alabama Crimson Tide at Bryant-Denny Stadium on November 26, 2010 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

By now the nation has heard the sound bite from Harvey Almorn Updyke Jr. as he called into a popular sports radio show in the south claiming to have poisoned the Toomer's Corner trees at the Auburn campus in retaliation for the Tigers' victory over his beloved Alabama at the Iron Bowl this past season.

Now I'm a huge sports fan and when my teams lose (especially a big game) I'm a bit down or upset.  However, after I've turned the television off and left the room I usually leave those feelings there.

I don't take my feelings out on my friends and family, I don't think of ways to get back at the fans of the team who just beat mine.  I move on.  Now I may avoid the news paper and sports shows for the next few days because I don't want to hear about the loss but that's the extent of it.

I'm sure the majority of fans out there are with me in that sentiment.

Coming back to Mr. Updyke though, I have a growing concern about fans out there, specifically college fans.

For this group of fans rivalries seem to be a little more extreme than say professional sports.  Yankee and Red Sox fans as well as Redskins and Cowboys fans may exchange harsh words on message boards but that is usually the extent of it.

Professional sports fans don't usually pull pranks on their rivals, however it's a tradition to do so in college.

Most of the time the pranks are light hearted, like stealing the mascot costume and returning it after the game or toilet papering a statue on your rival's campus.

Those things are just kids being kids.

However with Updyke poisoning Auburn's 130-year-old trees he's up the anti.

Right now I am sure there are Auburn students, fans, or alumni who are plotting revenge on Alabama and are going to want to top what Updyke did.

Shoot, because of the national media attention this has gotten students from other schools have been tweeting, calling into radio shows and have been expressing the want to do something bigger to their rivals.

The second I heard the story on ESPN Radio I had a feeling things could escalate, and not just for these two schools.

Now where something like this is newsworthy to Auburn students and fans by broadcasting it nationally ESPN and other outlets have inadvertently started a prank war arms race.

Updyke is being charged with criminal mischief, which he may only get fined and given community service for, but amongst college football fans (especially Auburn fans) the guy is now infamous.

I can imagine plenty of frat boys out there thinking how they can top this and get notoriety as well.

Luckily nothing has happened yet and hopefully this is all forgotten by next football season, but deep down in my gut I have a feeling someone out there is just waiting to see his mugshot on ESPN for the prank he pulled off.


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