The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Sports

April 21, 2013

Auburn fans roll trees following spring game

— AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — Auburn fans said goodbye to the two oak trees at Toomer's Corner with one more toilet paper celebration following the spring game on Saturday.

An A-day-record crowd of 83,401 watched the Orange team defeat the Blue squad 35-14 at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Gus Malzahn's first spring game since he was hired to coach the Tigers. Thousands of fans then made their way over to drape toilet paper over the two frail, poison-infested oaks in a tribute that was more celebratory than somber.

"There's more to Auburn than two oak trees, revered and sturdy as they are," retired athletic director David Housel said. "These oak trees are but an outward visible symbol of the Auburn heart. ... This is a day of celebration and remembrance."

The spring game included 164 all-purpose yards and a touchdown by junior college transfer Cameron Artis-Payne, and Jonathan Mincy was ejected for a "targeted hit above the shoulders" on wide receiver Dimitri Reese.

Longtime Alabama fan Harvey Updyke Jr. pleaded guilty on March 22 to poisoning the Toomer trees after the 2010 Iron Bowl, when Cam Newton led Auburn to the national title — and an Iron Bowl comeback from a 24-0 deficit.

The trees will be cut down Tuesday, and officials unveiled a plan on Saturday to renovate Toomer's Corner that is expected to be completed next year.

"Something doesn't have to be old to be a tradition," said Bill Stone, the president of the Auburn Alumni Association. "We'll be here and we're gonna roll and roll and roll this corner just as we always have and just as we always will."

Toomer's Corner is the bustling connecting point of campus and community, where Toomer's Drugs serves up lemonade and lunch at the old-fashioned counter and the trees serve as a gateway.

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