treesApril 12, 2013 — In the midst of the furor created over a recent controversial, biased, inaccurate, sensationalized and overwrought article about the so-called epidemic of spice at Auburn, the network that aired that piece, ESPN, announced that it would dispatch a crew to cover the final rolling of the iconic trees at Toomer’s Corner.

Murdered by a deranged Alabama fan, the trees will be removed from Toomer’s Corner where they’ve stood for a century or more after fans get one last opportunity to roll them following the A-Day Game Saturday, April 20.

When word broke that ESPN would bear witness to the final rolling of Toomer’s Corner, we were inundated with chorus of discontent from fed-up Auburn fans who want ESPN nowhere near the event.

Their unhappiness is merited.

Some suggested that we help organize an Occupy Auburn type movement to prevent or restrict ESPN access by forming a human blockade.  Others asked us to petition Auburn administrators to bar the network from attending.  Some offered to help coordinate signs and placards that illustrated our collective displeasure with ESPN.

We say no.

As we always have, and despite perception to the contrary, we typically preach restraint.  Blocking ESPN from campus either officially or unofficially won’t help our cause.  Any action of that nature would only reinforce a negative perception our enemies would love to spread.

Rolling the trees for the final time on April 20 is about Auburn and Auburn alone. It’s not about Harvey Updyke and his insufficient justice. It’s not about the latest shot fired in a rivalry. It’s not about sycophantic radio callers or braying hosts who encourage them. It’s not about Selena Roberts or ESPN or any of the other media minions.

That Saturday is about the Auburn Family and honoring our cherished traditions.  It’s a chance for us to say farewell to the trees which meant so much to generations of Auburn fans and to celebrate our future together.  Ever to conquer. Never to yield.

It’s about us.  Don’t let anyone or anything detract from that.

Be gracious to ESPN reporters.  Show them what Auburn hospitality is all about, even though we all may feel slighted by the attacks we’ve suffered.

The spice smear effort from ESPN was the latest in what many in the Auburn Family feel is a consistent, concerted effort by the network to cast the Tiger athletic program in a negative light.

The perception dates back to Tommy Tuberville’s now-famous on-air clash with then anchor Dan Patrick in 2005.

In the wake of a BCS snub in 2004, Tuberville claimed that ESPN’s College GameDay had too much influence and took shots at “failed coaches” like Lou Holtz and Lee Corso who had built new careers as college football experts.

Patrick warned Tuberville not to bite the hand that feeds and then indignantly huffed that college football needed ESPN more than ESPN needed college football.

Many feel the relationship between Auburn and ESPN has suffered from frostbite since. The frostiness escalated during ESPN’s reckless assault on Cam Newton. The freeze deepened last week with the release of the absurdly biased spice story compounded with the ESPN’s headlong rush to provide Selena Roberts’ fraudulent excuse for journalism a legitimate platform.

We don’t disagree that some the recent efforts of ESPN toward Auburn seem transparently biased and are a disgusting display from a network that has a greater responsibility to integrity than it has shown.

Auburn men and women have an obligation to be better than that.  It is imperative that we hold our heads up and refuse to dwell in the sewer of false negatives.

We will keep fighting the fight here. We will continue to expose those who attack us for what they are. We will continue to promote the truth. But we don’t feel that an organized, public campaign against ESPN, particularly during the emotional farewell to the beloved trees at Toomer’s Corner, is the appropriate course.

As Auburn men and women, we have an obligation to take the high road.  In every allegation, in every attempt to trash our reputation, in every bogus report and half-baked theory we have emerged unscathed.  Honesty, integrity and class will eventually win out.

Be fearless in the truth. It will always set us free.


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