Harvey Updyke, the irrational Alabama fan of the poisoning and ultimately killing the Toomer’s Corner oaks at Auburn infamy, was released from his jail sentence Monday after serving 76 days.
In a story this strange, though, his release – of course – can’t be simple and straightforward.
It was reported Monday that Paul Finebaum, who was recently hired to the new ESPN SEC Network, visited Updyke in jail on Sunday, one day before Updyke’s release.
Updyke’s self-incriminating call into The Paul Finebaum Show, then a show syndicated throughout Alabama and other various parts of the South, set off a series of events leading to his arrest.
Updyke, known in the Paul Finebaum universe as “Al from Dadeville,” bragged on Finebaum’s Jan. 27, 2011 radio show that he poisoned the Toomer’s Oaks with Dow Agroscience’s Spike 80DF in the aftermath of Auburn’s 28-27 win over Alabama in 2010. He later said on Finebaum’s show that he did so to rile up the Auburn fan base.
The Toomer’s Corner trees were a tremendous part of the Auburn tradition. Following wins, Auburn fans would race across campus and throw toilet paper into the trees to celebrate. Attempts to save the trees failed and they were removed following the spring football game this April.
Finebaum seemed to be caught off-guard that attention would be called to his visit.
He told al.com, one of his former employers, that he went through a “laborious” process to get permission to visit Updyke. Finebaum apparently contacted the district attorney and had to seek approval from Lee County Sherriff Jay Jones.
Finebaum and Jones both said the visit had nothing to do with a media interview and Finebaum offered little insight about the meeting. He did, however, indicate he might divulge the contents of the discussion eventually.
“At some point in the future, I will,” Finebaum told al.com. “ … I am not trying to be cute. I am just trying to adhere to my agreement with the sheriff.”
Finebaum confirmed bringing two football magazines to Updyke.
For now, it’s tough to figure out what to make of Finebaum’s visit, other than to consider it a puzzling footnote in one of the most bizarre stories in college football history.