Enterprise-Journal, McComb, Miss.: No small measure of people in the South take college football seriously — too seriously in the opinion of non-fans who question the priorities of paying head coaches millions while state universities complain they can’t raise salaries for faculty as tuitions rise.
It can be argued that athletics bind alumni and supporters, as well as providing national publicity for universities
And the rivalries are fun, until they get out of hand, as was the case two years ago in Alabama.
Last week, officials had to cut down the old oak trees at Auburn, Ala., the ones Auburn fans traditionally festooned with toilet paper whenever there was cause for celebration.
For two years the people at Auburn fought to save the trees at what is called Toomer’s Corner after they were poisoned by an overzealous Alabama fan following the 2010 Iron Bowl, when Auburn beat Alabama and won the national championship.
Harvey Updyke Jr., the man who was arrested for poisoning the trees at the famous Auburn site, changed his plea in March from not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect to guilty. Updyke was sentenced to three years on a charge of criminal damage of an agricultural facility.
Harvey Updyke Jr. will long be an iconic example of how not to be a sports fan and what can happen when “games” go too far.