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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Toomer's Corner trees: Just the latest debacle in SEC land

The poisoning of the trees at Toomer’s corner, and the reaction it’s getting, would seem to just be the latest “only in the SEC” moment for the league. Except for the utter ridiculousness of the whole thing.

The action itself, apparently by a lunatic Alabama fan, was both vicious and stupid. The reaction by some Auburn fans – equating it to the murder of a relative – doesn’t help.

You might say this is an Alabama thing. Sure, it looks worse in that state, especially after one arch-rival answered the other’s national championship.

But we’ve all been around the SEC long enough to know it’s not totally limited to one state. Just last night I witnessed grown men berate three basketball officials as they walked off the court, with at least one object (I think it was a towel) going in their direction.
And just imagine if that happened in football.

There’s an obsession these days to try to find a “teachable moment.” I’m not sure this will be it, because in a few days everyone will have moved on to the next big topic.

But in this part of the world, some people – specifically, fans, administrators and media that cover the SEC – should be wondering if its time to try and get a handle on things.

People around the country are shaking their heads at the SEC. They have been for awhile. They admire the passion and success the league has in football. But most also see the other stuff – the scandals, the NCAA investigations, the tree-poisoning – and form judgments that reinforce stereotypes about the South. Fair or not, that’s the case.

Meanwhile, those of us down here also shake our heads, laugh and move on to the next big story that really shouldn’t be a big story.

Everyone’ s a bit guilty. The league and its schools try to keep things in balance, but do so while cashing huge checks from CBS, ESPN and other outlets.

Most fans, on an individual basis, are reasonable. But the ones calling talk radio and posting on blogs and message boards sometimes have trouble keeping their rhetoric in line. And a lot of these fans never actually attended the schools they’re so emotionally invested in.

Those of us in the media aren’t totally innocent either. Radio hosts talk about anything that will drive calls. Writers and editors, those of us who should be the keepers of the journalistic flame, are lately now more worried about stories that produce web hits and reader comments.

Part of the problem is there isn’t too much else going on down here: Pro teams are limited to Atlanta, Nashville and Florida. Then again, the presence of the Braves, Falcons and Hawks doesn’t tamp down interest in the Bulldogs. (Whose fans, since I cover this beat, I will now point out are all civil and rational. At least most of the time. ... And as long as I'm using parenthesis, I should also point out that I attended a non-SEC school, Maryland, whose basketball fans have been known to take it too far.)

Look, the SEC is a great league because of the passion down here. But how much passion is acceptable? How far do you push? Are we covering/working/rooting at schools that happen to have football teams, or creeping dangerously close to European soccer?

We all just need to take a deep breath, and get a grip. Today a few trees, tomorrow a team mascot, the next day …


Anonymous said...

Not to be overly critical but its very easy to look at the SEC and roll your eyes from the OUTSIDE. The SEC is the best conference in the land and with that passion comes the fringe. As a Maryland grad I know you can't really understand. I for one will take the passion with the fringe and continue beating the daylights out of the other leagues.

Bulldawg said...

Great idea Seth...where can i find Florida's mascot? ;)

NCDawg said...

Sweet Alabama meet Southern Man. It ain't new.

Riley said...

Hey Anon 3:37, I'm not so sure that's it's just fringe fans anymore. It seems like more of the fanbases are losing touch with reality. It's not unique to the SEC, and it's not unique to football. It does seem to be getting worse, though.

Anonymous said...

I love the SEC! I live near AU, 30 min away. I am an avid UGA fan. I live and work with avid AU fans. My girl is an AU Alum. I think the authorities should take the idiot who poisoned the Sacred Toomer's Corner Trees and make an example of him! If they fail in that endeavor, what comes next may be unthinkable and tragic! What a LOSER! I say give him 50 years with 49 years and 364 to serve!

RussDawg said...

Great! Now even my team's local beat writer decides to jump into the political fray. Please Seth stick to the issues involving UGA sports. Leave the politics of the SEC and other teams to someone else.

Anonymous said...

I forsee some equally disturbed AU fan forcing retribution on Harvey Updyke or some other ALA fan who happens to take pride in the actions of Harvey "The Idiot"! I live in the same county where AU is located and people (ALA, UGA, and AU fans) are really PO'd about this! I am worried! I don't want to see anyone get hurt or killed, but once those trees are down, one stupid comment from some idiot may spark God knows what! This could get really ugly! I hope not!

Tommy said...

Seth, you guys can self-flagellate all you want, but I think this has as much to do with socio-economic issues as it does with Finebaum's incessant trolling.

This is a state that, in many areas, has stagnated economically to nearly third-world living standards. It isn't for a lack of NFL teams that guys like Updyke don't get militant over the football team of a college they didn't attend. It's because Alabama football is the only point of pride in his life.

Look at standard of living indicators like childhood obesity, poverty rates, school performance, GDP growth, etc. and look at the facilities, football budgets and coaching salaries in Auburn and Tuscaloosa. It's like medieval Europe, with mammoth Cathedrals built on the backs of populaces living in feudal poverty.

Anonymous said...

Bo Knows All-You-Can-Eat Buffets.

Seth Emerson said...

Tommy, you make a lot of good points.

RussDawg, the vast majority of the stuff on this blog is Bulldog-related, so forgive me for expanding it out a bit now and then, especially on the SEC's dominant subject of the day.

Anonymous said...

So who poisoned UGA VIII. I bet it was that black & tan from Knoxville. Autopsy Now!

Dawgfan1307 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dawgfan1307 said...


Thanks for the post I think it was very thought provoking. There are many times people take things to far when it comes to sports and I think you may have just hit too close to home with RussDawg

Anonymous said...

Tommy makes some great points but I wonder if something like this would have ever happened if not for the Cam Newton case. Whether it is true or not the general feeling is that Auburn cheated to win the MNC and is getting away with it. Some unbalanced individual like Al decides he will take it into his own hands to make sure that AU pays.

I don't know but I doubt this happens without the Cam story.

I think it is despicable by the way and hope that Al pays dearly. I just hope that someone doesn't try the same thing on North Campus someday.

dawgofdasouth said...

post guards around the hedges in Athens Mr Bloggman this could get ugly.

dawgofdasouth said...

So who poisoned UGA VIII?Any updates on that would be appreciated Mr Bloggman.Did UGA ever find replacement for Coach Belin yet? P.S. articles such as you just posted helps people stop and think about whether or not their own fan support activities are getting out of hand.Thanks Seth

Rennie said...


Has UGA formally announced the hiring of the new LB coach from Washington yet? I thought that was supposed to happen today.

Seth Emerson said...

Nope, no formal announcement. I haven't heard of any snags, so I assume they're just wrapping up the process. Will Friend was actually hired on Friday and announced three days later. And on this there's no rush.

Anonymous said...

Well Seth...... Why mention or criticise those of us fans who may never had the opportunity to attend a fine university. Gee is it a notion to be a fan you must have a vested interest in a certain institution to qualify as a fan ? Yes I guess folks sometimes get a little crazy when their sense of entitlement gets threatened. I suppose many of those with their noses in the air do not understand the word fan. Money is still green whether you are simply a fan or a graduate of Higher Learning. I guess purchasing a ticket or buying sportswear or other items doesn't qualify one being a fan of a favorite university. Of course its always the one who didn't attend a universities fault when things go wrong.

BulldogBen said...

Why must we bring socio-politics into this incident??

Whatever happened to bat s**t crazy?? This guy was clearly unstable already and focused his rage on Auburn.

Tommy brings up some valid points about the south in general but by and large College football fans tend to be less blue collar and more educated than NFL fans. There are facts to prove this.

For every incident you can give me I can cite plenty of stuff that goes on in Pro football parts of the country.

Anonymous said...

Seth, I'm hearing that Kirk olivadotti has been hired and they are just working out the details now. Have you heard this as well?

RussDawg said...

I guess I just get inundated with so much news about this and other SEC stuff from other sources that it's nice to come onto Seth's blog and read about UGA stuff.
Seth, I understand you would like to weigh in on the big topics in the SEC and that's ok, not hatin' on ya. It's the offseason, gotta write about something because news is pretty slow out there.

Joeski said...


Thank you for mentioning the role that the media (in this case, specifically Paul Finebaum) plays in these situations. I was beginning to wonder if I was the only person who recognized that his 'show' is at least complicit in this situation. He may call it a 'barbershop', but it's really a carnival freak show, and he often incites the venom.

Other than that, I would have to say that this is probably not a subject that lends itself well to the blog-o-sphere, but thanks for at least (hopefully) spurring some thought in your readers.


I COULD CARE LESS WHAT SOME LAME PC ASS YANK WANT TO "form judgments that reinforce stereotypes about the South."


I Speak Truth said...

@Anon 6:56

YES, if you did not attend the university then you are NOT A REAL FAN. Geographic proximity works for pro teams, sure, but not college teams. Rooting for a school you didn't attend is just plain pathetic.

Alumni have a deeper connection to their university than a non-alum could never have or understand, no matter how "hardcore" the non-alum fan claims to be.

I BLEED red and black. Most of you POSERS do not.

I applaud Seth for mentioning these types of "fans". I'm sick of them. This tree incident further confirms their pathetic nature.

And finally, GO DAWGS!

Anonymous said...

Two quick thoughts:

Stop saying, "just sayin'". We know that you are "just sayin" and don't need to be reminded. Holy hell.

Alumni vs regular people debate:

I think it is pretty ridiculous to say that you MUST attend a university to be a fan. There are reasons that the big state universities carry so much strength, financially speaking, and that is because of a huge fanbase that didn't attend the school. I went to UGA, so it isn't like I am just lobbying for them because I am one of them. But I just think it is egotistical to exclude other because they didn't attend.


Anonymous said...

Truth Speaker - your ignorance is truly astounding.

Jules Winnfield said...

Please do us all a favor and take what Seth wrote in context. He never once said you had to attend a school in order to be a fan of said school. Let me put this into language you can understand. Most fans are good. Some fans are bad. Some bad fans did not go to the school they cheer for. Did we all get that?

I think for the most part Seth is right. Most fans are reasonable people. The problem is there are people out there who take it to extremes, and because of those people the group as a whole gets a label. Let's take this clown who poisoned the trees. We look at this guy and think, that dude is nuts. The rest of the country looks at the situation and thinks, boy those SEC fans are crazy. It's not fair, but that's just the way it is.

Of course it doesn't help when people such as Confederate Dawg post comments. Yank.....really? The Civil War was 150 years ago and we're still pulling from that well.

Seth Emerson said...

I'd recommend not using bad words. And as I've said before, putting a symbol in place of one the letters in those bad words doesn't suffice.

BulldogBen said...

David Basham, you had me until the "it's just a tree" comment and you brought up Cam Newton.

Most guesses say the trees at Toomer's are around the same age or older than the trees on UGA's North Campus. If those were killed I PROMISE you UGA people would care. They're part of the fabric of the University.

That said, I do see a certain irony in the fact that Auburn people have been essentially "trashing" the trees for decades.

I Speak The Truth, WOW. It's not like we're Harvard and people are pulling for the Crimson who didn't attend. Give me a break. If you pull for the Dawgs, you're good in my book no matter where you went to school.

BulldogBen said...

Also, I'd like to reiterate that I think this was an individual act and painting the entire south with this incident is to be stereotypical.

Passion also equals MONEY.

People can mock all they want but I don't see any other conference with a 15 year, 2 billion dollar TV deal.

Anonymous said...

Seth sorry for the less than delicate choice of words but folks like "Truth Speaker" flip my switch.

His preposterous position requiring attendance to be a fan goes beyond the pale it also defies logic.

Oh yeah he can still kiss my posterior :-)

I Speak Truth said...

Based on the reactions, I can tell my comments hit a nerve. That's because they are TRUE. See, I speak TRUTH, and sometimes the TRUTH hurts. Excuse me while I go polish the frames that hold my several prestigious UGA diplomas. Don't be jealous, FAKE fans!

UGA '08 said...

I Speak Truth (11:39 pm),

You're as delusional as they come. Your stupidity embarrasses me as a fellow Bulldog ALUMNI. Are you going to ridicule me for getting my bachelor's elsewhere?

By your rationale, only a student or alumni of the University of Georgia can claim themselves as a real fan?

Don't be naive. With that generalization, parent's of UGA students (who pay a substantial portion of their child's tuition) can't be fans of the University? How about the children of alumni? Or donors of the Hartman Fund?

Last time I checked, it's alumni who are the ones whining about "giving back" to the school.

Certainly be proud of where you graduated from, but get out of here with your senseless dribble. Apparently your education at UGA was not money well spent.

You, I, or anyone else attending UGA does not give us anymore entitlement over any other true fan, and yet you call them pathetic? Take a long hard look in the mirror buddy.

BicDawg said...

Seth, I wrote under the Ealey blog last week that sports in general would continue to decline as long as fans continued to do so. After reviewing the comments today, I rest my case.
Seth I think all of your points are spot on.
Side Comment: Went to the Rodeo in Perry last night. Classy Athletes and Classy Fans.

Seth Emerson said...

Yeah, posterior is acceptable. The other one, not so much. (I know I haven't been able to delete every post with bad words lately, but I'm not always near the ol' laptop. So if you're stalking me and know that, say, I'm out walking my dog, that's a good time to drop some f-bombs on the blog.)

I Speak Truth said...

@ UGA '08

I tried reading your comment but your poor grammar and lack of intelligence made it impossible to take your nonsensical rambling seriously.

In your second sentence, you refer to yourself as an Alumni. You are an ALUMNUS, genius. Using the plural makes you sound ridiculous. Oh and then there's "parent's of UGA students". Why use the apostrophe after parents? What is wrong with you?

Are you sure you graduated from Georgia? I'm guessing you made that up just to help your point. Ha, we're not fooled buddy! You're just as clueless as the rest of them! If you'd like to see what a real UGA diploma looks like, feel free to leave your email address and I'll send you a nice, high quality picture of one.

In the meantime, work on that grammar!

Anonymous said...

Seth the true definition of "ass" is really not what many think.

ass [ ass ]
animal resembling horse with long ears: an animal resembling a small horse with long ears, sometimes used as a beast of burden. The donkey is a domesticated descendant of the wild ass.
offensive term: an offensive term that deliberately insults somebody's intelligence, consideration for others, or general value

Either of those definitions seemed to fit "Truth".

Bulldawg said...

Confederate Dawg-

And all others reading, the phrase is "I COULDN'T CARE LESS" not I Could Care Less. Think about it. If you could care less about something, well, then you could care less. Sheesh. Sorry, but this is a pet peeve of mine.

Hey Jules -

Yeah, Yank, or if you prefer Yankee or carpetbagger. Yes, we still use those terms and yes, Seth is a damn Yankee from Maryland (no, I don't care if it is technically south of the MD line - it is a Yankee state with a Yankee mentality).

That doesn't mean we don't still love Seth, albeit like a red-headed step child, I mean heck, my wife is a damn Yankee from MD too!

Anonymous said...

Get off your high horse, Yankee. I bet you voted for Obama didn't you, Treehugger.

NCDawg said...

He may not be the most tactful person, but I agree with I Speak Truth. The guy has a good point at the root of his argument.

I'm tired of these drunken, uneducated, so-called fans that ruin the party for everyone else.

UGA '08 said...

@I Speak Truth

I'd like to apologize for my earlier comments directed at you. I'm having a heck of a day and I took it out on you. I just found out my girlfriend has been banging a used car salesman with a very small penis. Normally I wouldn't be too upset, since she cheats on me all the time. The worst part is that he's a Tech fan. Ugh I'm so depressed....time to go eat.

Joeski said...

I second NCDawg's comment about I Speak Truth.

Speak the truth, man! Your supporters are behind you!

Anonymous said...

NCDawg / Truth - That must be a joke. How many drunken, rude, obnoxious STUDENTS do you see rampaging through campus on game day? Plenty. So don't act like that doesn't fall on both sides.

For example, I hate tailgating and rarely participated. During my time at UGA, I always got a kick out of the superiority complex of some other students and their attitudes on campus for home games. They would whine and moan about "non-alumni" ruining things as they were throwing garbage on the ground and not respecting the campus. It goes both ways, the only difference is that the students/graduates can taut a diploma to excuse acting like morons.

If you want to support the Dawgs in any way, then you can be a fan. I know plenty of graduates of our fine school who barely keep up with our sporting just as I know plenty who never stepped foot in a classroom who scream for the Red and Black. Fandom is something that will be debated forever, so we might as well leave this alone and focus on something else.

Most importantly, get over yourselves.

Joeski said...

Seth, I don't know if you're still following the comments on this post, but if you are, could you delete the post by "Joeski" @ 10:12 AM?

That comment was not made by me. While I certainly understand the sentiment, I don't necessarily agree with I Speak Truth: as other people have pointed out, alumni and students are just as capable of behaving poorly.

Now, admittedly, a fan who didn't actually attend UGA might not have the sort of emotional connection as someone who spent four or five of the prime years of their life attending UGA. Maybe you could argue that that makes them more likely to do things that will end up reflecting poorly on the University. But I think that is more of a cultural issue than anything to do with whether or not they received a diploma.

Anonymous said...

Joeski, don't backtrack on your comments.

Even if you didn't post it, there is no reason for that comment to be deleted. You don't own the name Joeski. Anyone can post under that name if they want to. If you are going to post under a generic name, then these kinds of things will happen. Get over it or use a Google account.

Seth, I advise you to not delete that post. Thanks in advance.

Anonymous said...


Correcting grammar and putting down other true fans.

I wonder how many Georgia graduates (that is, former students) fill up the stadium on any given Saturday? 5,000?

Color me unimpressed.

ChrisDawg said...

Are you guys serious about this whole "you have to of gone to the university" thing?

What about a kid who worshiped UGA his whole life and then didn't get accepted for whatever reason? I guess he couldn't be as good of a fan as someone who went to the school right?

Give me a break! I certain that if you would of went to UGA some things about the university you would feel more strongly about but football is not one of them. These are mostly kids who grew up in high schools around Ga that most of us went to. This isn't pro football! This is our only chance to see players from the state of Ga for the most part play against players from other states.

He'll even if your not from Ga if you a true UGA fan then that's fine with me.

Let only alumni and students be a fan of UGA football and see what happens! This is one of the most popular teams in the nation with money to burn!

Like I said I'm sure alumni feel different about the university itself and what goes on there but th nfootball team is something completely different.

Anonymous said...

Since when did UGA alumni earn the right to be as pompous/snobby as an Ivy League graduate?

Internet warriors make me laugh.

I Speak Truth said...

You all know I'm right. Thanks to the brave few who actually voiced their support!

To the rest of you: Get a UGA degree, then you can come talk to me! Until then, stop the jealousy!

Anonymous said...

Until Seth realizes the problems with having trolls on his board without deleting posts/banning accounts, this won't stop.

You need to grow a pair seth and start laying down the ban hammer and stop being so touchy feely. (Like deleting posts with cursing? Give me a break).

Actually make a difference here or else you will fall victim to the same trolling that Paul Westerdawg lost to.

There's a reason T Kyle King's blog is so successful, WAY less trolls.

Anonymous said...

And if you are serious about your comments Truth, what degree did you graduate with that permitted and allowed close mindedness to succeed?

UGA alumni are almost more concerned with tailgating than they are with the game. They leave at half time if it's a blowout and boo their own players. Regular fans can enjoy football on that level if they would like, and UGA should encourage it because they are making the program a powerhouse that they are.

It's funny when you try to be condescending but come off as pseudo pretentious and petty.


BicDawg said...

Since I am a Univ of Ga grad I guess I can speak and what I say will be law according to some of you. Of the many things I learned at college one of the most important things I learned was College Professors are perhaps the dumbest people on the planet. Smart about their subject matter but ignorant to other very important facets of life. If you as a grad think a non grad has a less important voice or roll in making the world go round or just being a football fan then you have listened too much to your liberal professors. I know a heap of blue collar Dawg Fans that work hard in jobs that matter more than your pretty college desk job doing something of very little consequence. As a man with a big bad degree I hereby invite all Blue Collar Good ole Boy bulldawg fans to chime in and be heard. Wait I forgot. It is 12:00 pm/ They are all out working. Farming, fighting fires, building homes, paving roads, fighting terrorists, real honest work, Something we werent taught to do by our almighty college professors. So quit hiding behind your degree. It doesnt matter as long as your work is honest.

Seth Emerson said...

About deleting "trolls" and such ...

Y'all gotta remember, I'm not just running a blog here. It's a blog that supplements (and hopefully enhances) my regular coverage as a beat writer. Those of us in the journalism industry are still sifting through a lot of facets of our changing media world, but it's still journalism, and that means an open forum. Of course that means our coverage is for mainly Bulldog fans, but not only Bulldog fans.

Anonymous said...

That's all well and good Seth, but you have to understand that people will solely attempt to undermine your ability to provide information to Dawg Fans.

This is YOUR blog and your discretion should be valued and respected. When you have people who are coming on here to annoy,provoke, or insult others... it destroys your ability to inform.

Paul Westerdawg learned that lesson the hard way and his blog is a graveyard (for the most part). It isn't like you are putting muzzles on people and putting them away in a cellar so they can't speak; rather you are encouraging respectful discourse that allows dawg fans a place to interact.

Don't hide behind the convenient, safe definition of what journalism (despite it changing with the times) and allow people to ruin other's experiences. If you do, then this blog could have the same issues that others have, which would be a real shame

Seth Emerson said...

All right, lemme put it another way ... This may come off as too blunt, but my job isn't to run a blog or to moderate it. My job is to report and analyze the news, and provide insight.

That doesn't mean I don't value the reader comments. I do. And it definitely doesn't mean I don't care about this blog's traffic. I do, a lot.

But if I start deleting comments just because they're anti-Bulldog, then that oversteps the bounds of what a journalist should be doing.

That said, I've deleted some comments that in my mind are over-the-line as far as civility, or distract from the discussion because they're not relevant. I certainly think I have the discretion to do that.

I Speak Truth said...

Manual labor is for chumps.

Wash my luxury car, clean my house, and hand me my burger and fries through the drive-thru window as you proclaim yourselves "Good ole Boy Bulldawg fans". I'll be laughing all the way home, just like the rest of the REAL fanbase laughs at you.

I Speak Truth, therefore I'm right.

Anonymous said...

This is the drivel that needs deleting. It adds nothing to the blog it does however make me less inclined to visit. IMHO it is far more ruinous to your blog than my using "a$$"

Speak Truth is clearly not a UGA graduate - in fact I'm almost certain he hasn't attended much more than H.S.

" I Speak Truth said...
Manual labor is for chumps.

Wash my luxury car, clean my house, and hand me my burger and fries through the drive-thru window as you proclaim yourselves "Good ole Boy Bulldawg fans". I'll be laughing all the way home, just like the rest of the REAL fanbase laughs at you.

I Speak Truth, therefore I'm right."

I Speak Truth said...

Oh really? What's your email address, kid?

I'll send you proof.

Cmon little one, you can do it. Be brave!

Thought so. Envy breeds hatred.

Seth Emerson said...

OK, I think we've had enough on this one. Commenting turned off.