Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Auburn president Dr. Jay Gogue has approved a committee recommendation that will keep Tiger fans rolling the famed Toomer's Corner despite the impending loss of the site's poisoned oak trees--but that doesn't mean some big changes aren't coming to the Corner all the same.
With the current oaks unlikely to survive beyond this fall, the school's Committee to Determine the Future of Rolling Toomer’s Corner presented a two-part plan to Gogue: one, that the trees would be permanently replaced by one or more similar-sized specimens (likely a different species of oak), and two, that a second committee would be assigned to determine a temporary solution for rolling the corner during the three-to-five year period before the new oaks were ready. Gogue signed off on the plan this week.
“Dr. Gogue did approve the recommendation of the committee and we’re moving forward this week,” said Auburn Communications Director Mike Clardy. “We’re not going to wait to spring to start planning."
The good news for Tiger fans is that the replacement process and temporary solutions won't be put into practice until 2013 at the earliest. The oaks are expected to be in good enough shape to withstand rollings during the 2012 football season, with the same safeguards established during the 2011 campaign -- such as removing the toilet paper by hand -- still in place.
“Live oak wood is hard,” said AU horticulture professor and Toomer's Task Force member Dr. Gary Keever this week. “If you want to roll them, fine.”
But while there remains a chance the oaks could pull through and render the recommendations and planning moot -- Clardy says the "next step" is to reassess their health -- Keever warned fans not to get their hopes up.
“I would not bet they’d be alive next fall,” he said in Tuesday's committee meeting.
And once the current oaks have died, that's where the changes start. While decisions on exactly what species of tree will serve as replacements are still in the distant future, what's certain is that they will not also be live oaks; the coastal species prefers wetter soil than found in Auburn and would be highly difficult to grow to the current oaks' size at all, much less in the given timeframe. Keever will recommend that overcup oaks be used instead.
As for that temporary solution, it's still too early for many specifics. ("There’s not a tremendous rush," Clardy said, since the oaks would last through 2012.) But the final recommendation is likely to be something man-made, potentially a system of wires.
That's not likely to sit too well with Auburn fans accustomed to the oaks' organic presence (for lack of a better term) at the Corner. Alleged poisoner Harvey Updyke is already public enemy Number 1 among the Tiger faithful; three-to-five years of rolling wires followed by the introduction of a different species of oak isn't going to do a thing to change that.
Reporting by the War Eagle Reader.daily newsletter. View a preview.
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