With Harvey Updyke, the culprit behind the Toomer's Corner oak tree poisoning, behind bars, the attention naturally turned to who is to blame for the act. Auburn fans are, understandably, outraged, looking to figure out how to prevent something like this from happening in the future while reexamining the Auburn-Alabama rivalry at the same time. But it was Paul Finebaum, host of the radio show that Updyke used as a platform to announce the poisoning, that drew the ire of Auburn fans on Thursday night.
Finebaum's show serves as a war zone between fans of the two teams and SB Nation's Track Em Tigers wonders if this is the beginning of the end for the show. In some ways, writes author Jay Coulter, the show is to blame for the poisoning at Toomer's Corner.
Even the angriest of Auburn fans would have a hard time laying complete blame on him for the actions of Updyke. He merely used the Finebaum Show as a vehicle to vent his anger and announce to the country his actions.
While the actions of Updyke are viewed as reprehensible by many, it's good radio for Finebaum. Controversy breeds ratings and ratings breed money. In that regard, Finebaum comes out a winner in all this as his show is thrust into the national spotlight, all because of the actions of a caller.
Updyke was probably going to do what he did no matter what. Judging by his call, he harbored a deep hatred for Auburn that had been festering for years, finally boiling over after the Tigers won the BCS Championship. He merely used the Finebaum show to announce it to the world.
If the Finebaum Show wasn't around, the deranged segments of fans would find another platform -- be it a different show, Internet message boards or otherwise. While the rivalry between Auburn and Alabama is one of the fiercest in the nation, neither side has the deranged fan market cornered. Every school, every fan-base, has them, and acts of vandalism and malice will happen no matter what.
Like Howard Stern and other radio hosts that thrive on outlandish callers and shocking shows, Finebaum will survive and probably reach new levels of success. Because it's not about intelligent conversation and debate; it's about entertainment. Finebaum provides that to the masses, stretching far beyond just the state of Alabama.