In the immediate aftermath of one Alabama’s fan inexplicably asinine decision to allegedly poison the historic 130-year-old oak trees in Auburn’s Toomer’s Corner, it was thought by some that the heated Iron Bowl rivalry was spiraling out of control and into total anarchy.
Instead, a group of Tide fans have banded together in an attempt to help their bitter in-state rivals. From the Tuscaloosa News:
Thursday night a group of University of Alabama alumni and students, started an initiative called Tide for Toomer’s with the goal of raising money to offset the cost of replacing the famous oaks at Toomer’s Corner. The trees were poisoned by 62-year-old Harvey Almorn Updyke, a disgruntled Alabama fan. …
Jennifer Hanson, one of the group’s founders and a UA undergraduate and law school alumna, said Tide for Toomer’s is comprised of a Facebook page and a Twitter page that launched Thursday around 8 p.m.
As of this posting, the Facebook page — which you can get to directly by clicking on the link HERE — had nearly 17,000 fans and raised more than $6,000 in less than 24 hours. Hanson told the News that the rivalry’s gotten out of hand of late, and the social media initiative is a way for people from both sides to come together for the greater good.
“I feel like recently it’s gotten a little nasty with the pranks and various things being said on Twitter and Facebook and (Birmingham sports radio station) WJOX,” Hanson said. “Just from what I’ve seen on the Facebook page this is something that’s helping everyone come together for a greater cause and that’s the tradition and respect we have for each other.”
Another founder of the movement said they didn’t want one fan’s actions to speak for the whole of Tide Nation.
“So I said well why don’t we all do it and start up a fund?” Taylor Nichols (no relation) told the paper. “I kind of got tired of the crazies speaking for Alabama fans so I just wanted to do something to show that we aren’t all like that and we don’t think it’s okay to do what [Harvey] Updyke did.
“If there’s no response from us then it’s like we’re letting this guy speak for us and we couldn’t stand for that. Alabama fans don’t feel responsible but they still feel bad.”
Nick Saban agrees. In his first public comments since the Toomer’s Corner poisoning became front-page news, the Tide head coach denounced Updyke’s actions and said they are not representative of the institution.
“The great rivalries and traditions are what make college football special and we respect the traditions of every team we play, especially the schools in our conference and in our state,” Saban said. “It is important to be positive in support of your own program and there is absolutely no benefit to negative behavior toward any other institution.
“We are truly saddened by this destructive behavior from an individual who certainly does not represent our institution, our program, or our fans in any way. It is important that we continue to respect one another in the spirit of good sportsmanship for many years to come.”