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Harvey Updyke, Alabama fan and convicted Toomer’s Corner tree poisoner, dies at 71

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Harvey Updyke, one of the most notorious figures in the long history of the Alabama-Auburn rivalry, has left this mortal coil.

Updyke’s son confirmed to al.com that his father, a huge Alabama football fan, died Thursday afternoon at 71.  Bear Updyke – yes, he’s named after legendary Crimson Tide head coach Paul “Bear” Bryant — said his father died of natural causes.

For those unfamiliar with Harvey Updyke?  Here’s a portion of our post from October of 2014.  About Updyke dressing as a dead tree for Halloween.

Updyke, as “Al from Dadeville,” infamously called into the Paul Finebaum radio show in February of 2011 and claimed to have poisoned the Toomer’s oaks after Auburn beat Alabama in the 2010 Iron Bowl. He was subsequently arrestedcharged and ultimately pleaded guilty to one count of criminal damage of an agricultural facility, a Class-C felony. He was sentenced to three years in jail — he served 180 days of the sentence — and was placed on supervised probation for a period of five years. During that probationary period, he has a 7 p.m. curfew.

Additionally, Updyke, who now lives in Louisiana less than an hour from the LSU campus, was ordered to pay $800,000 in restitution and has been barred from the following: any Auburn University property, any collegiate sporting event and speaking to the media.  Thus far, he’s only reportedly paid $99 in restitution.

While there was initial hope that the oaks could be saved, they were ultimately taken down after one final roll. New trees are expected to be planted next year.

At the time of his death, Updyke had paid in the neighborhood of $7,000 in restitution.

Manning Award releases its 30-player preseason watch list, including North Dakota State’s Trey Lance

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Count the Manning Award among the latest to release its preseason grouping of players to watch this season.  Provided there is a season, of course.

Thursday, the Manning Award, named in honor of the quarterbacking Mannings — ArchiePeyton and Eli — and sponsored by the Allstate Sugar Bowl, announced its 30-player preseason watch list.  The Manning, incidentally, goes to the nation’s top quarterback and is the only major trophy to take into account postseason performance.

Five of last year’s Manning Award finalists are included on this year’s watch list: Justin Fields (Ohio State), Trevor Lawrence (Clemson), Tanner Morgan (Minnesota), Kyle Trask (Florida) and Brady White (Memphis).

From the award’s release:

This year’s Watch List includes players from all 10 Football Bowl Subdivision conferences. The AAC, Big 12 and Big Ten lead the way with four selections, while the ACC, C-USA, the Pac-12 and the SEC each have three selections. There are 13 seniors on the list while the junior class is represented by 11 quarterbacks and the sophomore class has six.

Also included in the list is Trey Lance of FCS North Dakota State.

“It sure has been a unique offseason, but we’re still looking forward to the prospect of seeing a great group of quarterbacks compete this year,” Archie Manning said in a statement. “Our Watch List is once again an exceptional group of candidates, but every year is a new year and we’ll be watching closely to add the best newcomers to the list after we get things rolling. I’d also like to thank the Allstate Sugar Bowl for sponsoring this award; it means a lot to the entire Manning family that they include our name in recognizing the best quarterbacks in the country.”

Last year’s winner of the award was LSU’s Joe Burrow.

Below is the complete preseason watch list for this year’s Manning Award.

SEC joins Big Ten, Pac-12 in going with a 10-game, conference-only football schedule for 2020

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The SEC has decided on the direction its football season will take.  If there is a college football season, that is.

Following a meeting of the league’s presidents and chancellors, the SEC announced Thursday that it will go with a 10-game, conference-only schedule for the 2020 college football season.  Originally scheduled to start the weekend of Sept. 5, the SEC has now pushed back the season’s kick-off back to Sept. 26.  Additionally, the conference championship game will be played Dec. 19.

John Talty of al.com was the first to report the development.  In confirming the report, the SEC added that each team will have two bye weekends during the regular season: one mid-season (different dates for different schools) as well as a league-wide bye the weekend of Dec. 12.  That, of course, is the weekend prior to the league title game.

“This new plan for a football schedule is consistent with the educational goals of our universities to allow for the safe and orderly return to campus of their student populations and to provide a healthy learning environment during these unique circumstances presented by the COVID-19 virus,” commissioner Greg Sankey said in a statement. “This new schedule supports the safety measures that are being taken by each of our institutions to ensure the health of our campus communities.”

It had been expected that the SEC would follow the ACC’s lead and add a plus-one to the schedule, a non-conference matchup that was previously on the schedule.  Instead, the move means games such as LSU-Texas, South Carolina-Clemson, Florida-Florida State and Georgia-Georgia Tech are officially off the schedule for the 2020 season.

The 14-member SEC will play its six division rivals as well as the regularly-scheduled pair of crossover games.  The additional crossover games that will fill out the 10-game conference slate will be announced at a later date.

The Big Ten and Pac-12 as previously announced that those leagues would be going to a conference-only schedule.  That leaves the Big 12 as the only Power Five to have not signaled its scheduling intentions.

Below are all of the non-conference games for each SEC school that will be canceled:

  • Alabama — USC, Georgia State, Kent State, UT-Martin
  • Arkansas — Nevada, Notre Dame, Charleston Southern, Louisiana-Monroe
  • Auburn — Alcorn State, North Carolina, Southern Miss, UMass
  • Florida — Eastern Washington, South Alabama, New Mexico State, Florida State
  • Georgia — Virginia, East Tennessee State, Louisiana-Monroe, Georgia Tech
  • Kentucky — Eastern Michigan, Kent State, Eastern Illinois, Louisville
  • LSU — UTSA, Texas, Rice, Nicholls State
  • Mississippi State — New Mexico, NC State, Tulane, Alabama A&M
  • Missouri — Central Arkansas, Eastern Michigan, BYU, Louisiana
  • Ole Miss — Baylor, Southeast Missouri State, UConn, Georgia Southern
  • South Carolina — Coastal Carolina, East Carolina, Wofford, Clemson
  • Tennessee — Charlotte, Oklahoma, Furman, Troy
  • Texas A&M — Abiline Christian, North Texas, Colorado, Fresno State
  • Vanderbilt — Mercer, Kansas State, Colorado State, Louisiana Tech

College Football amidst Coronavirus Pandemic: On this day in CFT history, including Joey Bosa, three other Buckeyes suspended for Ohio State’s 2015 opener AND Carlos Hyde suspended for at least the first three games of the 2013 season

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The sports world, including college football, had essentially screeched to a halt in the spring as countries around the world battled the coronavirus pandemic. As such, there was a dearth of college football news as the sport went into a COVID-induced hibernation.  Slowly, though, the game is coming back to life.  Hopefully.

That being said, we thought it might be fun to go back through the CollegeFootballTalk archives that stretch back to 2009 and take a peek at what transpired in the sport on this date.

So, without further ado — ok, one further ado — here’s what happened in college football on July 30, by way of our team of CFT writers both past and present.

(P.S.: If any of our readers have ideas on posts they’d like to read during this college football down-time, leave your suggestions in the comments section.  Mailbag, maybe?)

2019

THE HEADLINE: Nation’s top 2017 recruit officially admitted to Miami
THE SYNOPSIS: Jaelan Phillips transferred to The U from UCLA the previous February.  The defensive end didn’t see the field at all in 2019 due to NCAA transfer bylaws.

2018

THE HEADLINE: Nation’s No. 1 recruit visits Florida A&M
THE SYNOPSIS: “Every student-athlete needs to visit [an] HBCU,” Kayvon Thibodeaux tweeted.  Visiting is one thing.  Committing is another matter entirely.  In December of 2018, Thibodeaux committed to Oregon.  That same month, the defensive end signed with the Ducks.  Following the 2019 regular season, Thibodeaux was named the Pac-12’s Defensive Freshman of the Year.

2017

THE HEADLINE: Allegations of inappropriate behavior emerge against Hugh Freeze
THE SYNOPSIS: The allegations, dating back to his time at a Memphis high school, were levied against him by females.  Freeze had “resigned” 10 days earlier as the Ole Miss head coach.

2015

THE HEADLINE: Four key Buckeyes, including Joey Bosa, suspended for opener
THE SYNOPSIS: Also suspended were H-back Jalin Marshall, wide receiver Corey Smith and H-back Dontre Wilson.  It was subsequently reported that the suspensions centered on “marijuana and academics.”  OSU, of course, went on to exact revenge on Virginia Tech in the opener.

2015

THE HEADLINE: CFP won’t force Notre Dame, other independents to join a conference
THE SYNOPSIS: Interestingly, just last week it was reported that the Fighting Irish could join the ACC… for one season only.  Because of the pandemic and its effect on the college football schedule, of course.

2014

THE HEADLINE: Auburn, Clemson schedule 2016-17 home-and-home
THE SYNOPSIS: The ACC Tigers beat the SEC Tigers in both games.  By just 14 points, combined, though.

2013

THE HEADLINE: Carlos Hyde suspended for at least first three games of the season
THE SYNOPSIS: The suspension stemmed from an alleged assault for which the star Ohio State running back wasn’t charged.

2012

THE HEADLINE: First player officially bolts from Penn State
THE SYNOPSIS: Safety Tim Buckley had the honor of being the first Nittany Lion to transfer in the wake of historic NCAA sanctions.

2011

THE HEADLINE: Nebraska QB Bubba Starling facing $7.5 million decision — at least
THE SYNOPSIS: Starling was drafted by the Kansas City Royals as the fifth overall pick back in June.  Two weeks later, Starling opted for baseball over college football.  Seven seasons later, the outfielder made his Major League debut.

2010

THE HEADLINE: Matt Barkley guarantees USC win over crosstown rival
THE SYNOPSIS: The quarterback proved correct as the Trojans dropped the Bruins 28-14.  Despite Barkley’s two interceptions.

Justin Fields, Chuba Hubbard headline Maxwell Award preseason watch list

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#WatchListSZN continues unabated, with the Maxwell Award next up on the preseason junket.

Friday morning, the Maxwell Award announced its preseason watch list consisting of 90 college football players from across the country.  Presently annually to the Collegiate Player of the Year, the Maxwell Award is one of the oldest and most prestigious in the sport.

None of the three finalists from a year ago, LSU quarterback and 2019 winner Joe Burrow, Ohio State defensive end Chase Young and Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts, are on this year’s watch list.  Burrow and Young, incidentally, went 1-2 in the 2020 NFL Draft.  There are, however, six semifinalists from a year ago.

The Big Ten leads all conferences with 15 watch listers, followed by the ACC (14) and SEC (13).  The AAC and Mountain West, with nine apiece, have the most for Group of Five leagues.  And the other Power Fives?  The Pac-12 posted eight, the Big 12 seven.

Four individual schools, Alabama, Indiana, Louisville and Memphis, had three players apiece on the preseason watch list.  Another 11 have two each: Auburn, Boise State, Clemson, Florida State, LSU, Minnesota, Mississippi State, Ohio State, Oregon, Penn State and SMU.

Below is the complete preseason watch list for the 2020 Maxwell Award.