The Auburn family is currently in a state of mourning after their worst fears, that their beloved Toomer’s oaks had been poisoned, were confirmed.
Auburn University affirmed the tragic truth on Feb. 16, 2011, sending a flurry of Auburn fans to Toomer’s Corner to grieve, say their goodbyes and roll the majestic oaks one last time.
According to officials at the Alabama State Pesticide Residue Laboratory, the trees were administered lethal amounts of an herbicide commonly used to kills trees, called Spike 80DF, and most likely will not survive.
A furious caller, who identified himself as “Al from Dadeville,” phoned into the Paul Finebaum radio show on Jan. 27, 2011 ranting about poisoning the trees.
“I poisoned the two Toomer’s trees,” he declared. “I put Spike 80DF in them. They’re not dead yet, but they definitely will die. Roll Damn Tide.”
Auburn officials first became concerned about the possibility of poisoning after this shocking phone call and quickly delivered soil samples to a lab the following day to be analyzed.
Upon hearing the news of the deliberate poisoning and the ultimate fate of the trees, the Auburn community was subjected to intense emotions from anger to shock to sadness to disgust.
Forrest Scruggs, a sophomore in exercise science at Auburn University, recalled, “My initial reaction was just shock that someone could be so filled with hate over a rivalry that it would cause them to destroy a tradition that has been around longer than most of us.”
Toomer’s oaks, estimated to be over 130 years old, are home to one of Auburn’s oldest and most cherished traditions. For generations Auburn fans have celebrated their victories by rolling the oaks and transforming them into gigantic, flowing white symbols of success.
Scruggs feels the university handled the fiasco in the best way possible by being quick to respond and implementing a determined plan of action.
When asked if he believed the Toomer’s oaks could be saved, Scruggs replied, “I hope so, I know we have some brilliant minds at work trying their hardest so I’m just going to wait and pray that they can make a miracle happen.”
Numerous solutions to the tragedy have been raised, such as planting a sapling spliced from one of the original Toomer’s oaks, replacing them with a new massive oak tree or starting a new tradition altogether.
“I feel the best thing would be to plant a Toomer sapling that has already had time to grow,” Scruggs explained. “It would also be cool to take the wood from the Toomer’s trees and make some kind of monument, like something carved out of the wood that we can cherish and that won’t ever get destroyed.”
Although they are experiencing a rough patch, the Auburn family has drawn closer to one another and continued in their classy ways.
Auburn University President Jay Gogue was quick to offer words of wisdom to the Auburn family and advised them not to make any rash decisions regarding the incident.
“It is understandable to feel outrage in reaction to a malicious act of vandalism,” Gogue stated. “However, we should live up to the example we set in becoming national champions and the beliefs expressed in our Auburn Creed.”