Police have identified and arrested a 29-year-old Auburn, Ala. man after he allegedly set fire to one of the oak trees at the famous Toomer’s Corner.
Fans traditionally celebrate a Tigers victory by “rolling” the trees with toilet paper and did so once again on Saturday night following an 18-13 victory over LSU. However, video surveillance showed a suspect lighting some of the paper on fire, setting the tree ablaze as he walked away.
Firefighters quickly responded to the fire and extinguished the burning tree but university officials are still evaluating the damage to the oaks.
“From the ground we can easily see damage to the leaves and base of the tree. It is significant,” Professor of Horticulture Gary Keeversaid in a statement released by the school. “I expect the foliage will continue to drop. The full extent of damage may not be known for several weeks. The best case scenario would be to see a flush of new growth next spring, but right now it’s too early to tell how the tree will respond.”
The incident is all the more emotional for Auburn fans given that the tradition had just been revived this season following a three-year absence as a result of an Alabama fan poisoning the oaks. Hopefully the area around Toomer’s Corner can recover in time for the Tigers’ next win, which might be as soon as Saturday when they host Louisiana-Monroe.
Arsonist sets fire to Toomer’s Corner oak after Auburn win
Auburn fans celebrated a wild victory against SEC West rival LSU last night the way they always do, by rolling the oaks at Toomer’s Corner with toilet paper. It is a tradition that goes back decades, which makes the oaks a target for some. On Saturday night, one of the trees at Toomer’s Corner went up in flames after somebody lit the dangling toilet paper on fire.
Someone inadvertently set the one of the Toomer's Oaks on fire. It's out now, but all the toilet paper is burned off pic.twitter.com/0cSGRUBEFZ
Heading into Saturday’s matchup between the Tigers of Auburn and the Tigers of LSU, all anybody in SEC country could talk about was job status of the two head coaches and if — or when — they would be fired.
Call it the Buyout Bowl or the Hot Seat Shootout if you must, but it was Auburn’s Gus Malzahn who emerged victorious in a 18-13 win that was the furthest thing from an offensive showcase but perfectly encapsulated the whacky careers of both coaches in the final seconds.
LSU had a chance to win the game in the final seconds after mounting an impressive drive 60 yard drive into the red zone. After quarterback Danny Etling got off a pass to Malachi Dupre on the 10 yard line on third and 16, the Tigers hustled up to the line but were called for an illegal shift on the ensuing play.
With just one second left on the clock after officials reviewed things, Etling appeared to throw a remarkable game-winning touchdown pass to the back of the end zone. That set off a crazy celebration on the LSU sideline given that they had apparently won the game in the most Les Miles-esque of fashions.
But it was not meant to be.
Officials reviewed the play and said LSU did not in fact get the play off and Auburn escaped with the win thanks to six Daniel Carlson field goals. It was the Tigers first home win in seven tries over a Power Five opponent and snapped a streak of six straight losses at home to SEC teams.
The win certainly buys Malzhan a bit of a cooler hot seat come Sunday morning but does no favors to that of Miles’ seat. The veteran LSU head coach was nearly axed after last season but returned, and then promptly lost the team’s opener to Wisconsin to hear even more calls for his firing.
Those calls will surely intensify again after Saturday’s wild night on the Plains in what could prove to be the beginning of the end for at least one head coach in the SEC West.
WATCH: Woman blocks football with her face at LSU-Auburn game
One more thing, for those who question my laughing at another’s misfortune: I laugh, and will continue to laugh way too much and way too hard at the video below every single time I see it. The cute little girl doing the face plant? My then-six-year-old daughter.
Auburn leads at halftime in must-win game against LSU
In a must-win game for both head coaches, Auburn’s Gus Malzahn went to the locker room at halftime up 9-7 on LSU’s Les Miles in a game as prodding and slow as the score would indicate.
The Tigers were unable to find the end zone despite breaking open some big plays and had to rely on three Daniel Carlson field goals to hold the lead after two quarters. Quarterback Sean White only had three incompletions among his 14 passes (for 144 yards) but looked as though he was starting to get in a rhythm against LSU’s tough defensive front.
Speaking of that defense, the Baton Rouge-based Tigers came up big just before halftime by stopping Kerryon Johnson on both third- and fourth-and-goal from the one yard line.
LSU averaged over seven yards a rush on offense but simply didn’t have the ball much, running just 24 snaps in the first half. Quarterback Danny Etling had 23 yards passing on six completions but did end up escaping pressure and shot-putting the ball to Foster Moreau for the game’s only touchdown.