The numbers tell us college football has never been more popular. Television ratings are healthy, rogue ticket prices for the national championship game were the highest for any major sporting event ever, and the smell of murder is in the air.
No, this time around it's not actual people being killed over an SEC football game (like it was between an Alabama and LSU fan in 2009), it's the trees on Toomer's Corner at Auburn, but if you're a fan of tradition in college football, it's (as Dustin Hoffman would say in Outbreak) "murder any way you fuckin' slice it!"
The Harvey Almore Updyke (heretofore, like all murderers, referred to by his first, middle and last names) versus the State of Alabama (literally and figuratively -- dude has NO friends right now) is a fascinating case study in the malfunctioning gray matter of the people who care a little -- okay, a LOT -- too much about college football.
Here is the latest:
Charles Goldberg of the Auburn Bureau of the Birmingham News is required to report on the pending trial and sentencing of this idiot with the class and dignity of a regular news reporter. I am confined by no such boundaries. I'm free to say what I'm thinking, what you're thinking.
So with a hearty "War Eagle/Roll Tide" show of thanks to Goldberg (and the highlights of his update in blockquotes below), here is the latest on Harvey Almore Updyke:
Yet another defense attorney is representing Harvey Updyke Jr. this Tuesday. Glennon Threatt Jr. says he is representing the man accused of poisoning two oak trees at Toomer's Corner in Auburn, where fans have celebrated sports victories for years.
Threatt follows three defense attorneys who asked to be removed from the case, two because of a conflict of interest and another because of a disagreement with Updyke.
Okay, let's start right there. Updyke is already on his fourth defense attorney, which means he is plowing through attorneys at a clip about five hundred times as fast as Antonio Cromartie plows through baby mommas. And I would love to know what constitutes a "conflict of interest" in this case -- an Auburn bumper sticker on the lawyer's car? Membership at an arboretum? So many questions.
Threatt, who represented former Birmingham mayor Larry Langford last year, said on the Paul Finebaum radio show that he would be "proud to represent him."
For those who don't know, Larry Langford was sent to prison for 15 years a couple years ago for 101 counts of conspiracy, bribery, fraud, money laundering and filing false tax returns (or as I call it, the "White Collar Crime Superfecta"). Threatt was his attorney. Does anything say "pub hound" more than being "proud" to represent the most infamous figure in a century-long rivalry? If he's "proud" to represent Updyke, I'd hate to think what would happen if he represented a real murderer. T-shirts? A Facebook Fan Page?
Updyke's friend, Wayne Barnes, said Updyke indeed said on Finebaum's radio show last month that he poisoned the trees. Barnes said during Tuesday's show that Updyke did the same on the Tider Insider website by using Barnes' sign-on.
If you're keeping track, Paul Finebaum and his radio show have now been mentioned twice in this article. If there is a "winner" out of all of this, it's Finebaum, who has organically become to this controversy what Wolf Blitzer was to Desert Storm back in 1991, when he went from semi-known to household name within about three weeks. Blitzer wound up parlaying his award-winning Desert Storm coverage into a spot as CNN's chief correspondent to the White House in 1992. I'm calling it now -- this summer, Finebaum will be usurping the "standing out in front of Brett Favre's house in Hattiesburg" spot on ESPN (football's equivalent of White House chief correspondent). Look out, Rachel Nichols!
Barnes said he didn't believe Updyke was capable of poisoning the trees.
It's not clear whether Barnes meant that he didn't think Updyke's heart was dark enough to poison the trees or if he meant that Updyke wasn't smart enough to know how to dump a container of herbicide on them. Frankly, both are in play.
Barnes said Updyke is a big Alabama fan, saying Updyke ran on the field in 1970 Bluebonnet Bowl with a box of Tide detergent and toilet paper, signifying "Roll Tide."
...because nothing says "big fan" like running onto the field after a game with props in hand and turning yourself into a game of human Pictionary. Somewhere the guy who holds up the letter "D" and a cardboard cutout of a fence is nodding his head and smiling.
Barnes said he and Updyke attended Alabama's BCS national championship win over Texas in the Rose Bowl at the end of the 2009 season.
Biggest sigh of relief from this whole thing? Longhorn mascot Hook Em, who probably would have found his head and four limbs scattered around the corners of the Austin city limits (like William Wallace at the end of Braveheart) as a message to Longhorn fans if Alabama had lost that game.
(Barnes) also said two of Updyke's children are Crimson Tyde Updyke and Bear Bryant Updyke. Barnes said he wanted to name another child Ally Bama Updyke, but her mother wouldn't let him.
First of all, you name your dogs "Crimson" and "Bear," not your kids. Second, you name your daughter "Ally Bama" if you want her to wind up in amateur porn and you're trying to save her the trouble of doing a legal name change. Third, if any of you are having trouble getting laid, just know that Harvey Almore Updyke got laid at least three times. There is hope for you.
Threatt acknowledged Updyke said on the radio show last month that he said he poisoned the trees.
You can hear it below...
If you're Updyke, how stupid was this? Basically, imagine O.J. Simpson calling Colin Cowherd to say that he killed two people and then screaming "Fight Damn On!" And honestly, Updyke's only chance at freedom at this point is if Marcia Clark and Christopher Darden are prosecuting this thing and they ask him to try on the shoes that left footprints behind at the crime scene. (And by "only chance," in gambling speak, I mean his chances of winning the case swing from +1,000,000,000 to a solid -150. I would watch this trial on Court TV, by the way.)
"He told the police something different. I don't know him well enough to know if his belief system is consistent with the truth," Threatt said. "We're not going to be put in a situation where we're going to ask whether he is insane."
Do we really need to ask?
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Threatt said Updyke was living in a car in the woods.
Somewhere, Updyke sits alone and frightened, in his presumably decrepit automobile, likely with a gun sitting on his chest as he sleeps in five-minute bursts à la Tony Soprano in the safe house in the final episode. As he tries to avoid the light of day and thousands of angry Alabama residents, his car receives shelter from the woods. The trees. The very objects Updyke murdered to place himself in this predicament.
Irony, thy name is Harvey Almore Updyke.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from noon to 3 p.m. weekdays and follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.