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VOL. 129 | NO. 144 | Friday, July 25, 2014
Don Wade

Don Wade

Eve Didn’t Poison Toomer’s Corner Trees

By Don Wade

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Justin Fuente again did football-obsessive mankind a favor this summer with his annual women’s clinic.

“By and large, men know a lot less than they think they do and women know a lot more,” said the University of Memphis football coach.

That ringing you hear is the sound of truth.

Now, maybe that’s not something those of you who believe you should be calling plays every Saturday want to face. But whether we like it or not, we have to admit women are not the ones who walk around blind during college football season. That’s men.

Oh sure, there are women who are incredibly loyal to the Memphis Tigers, Tennessee Volunteers and just about any other college football enterprise you care to name.

But that loyalty stems from love. When their team is bad, they don’t try to convince you otherwise. They believe in the hope of a brighter day because, well, that’s just how optimistic they are.

Not so a man, whose ego is tied to every recruiting class and goes up and down with each victory or defeat – and perhaps with every yard gained or lost.

It’s really quite primitive.

Take the diehard UT fan of the last few years – please. In conversations with his buddies from other SEC schools, he’s oversold every Vols quarterback and every UT team. He’s complained about cheatin’ at Ole Miss, LSU, Florida and everywhere else in the SEC (OK, basketball in Kentucky’s case) and even now he is trying to convince total strangers that Lane Kiffin was a double-agent who was always on Nick Saban’s payroll.

We men operate from our basest instincts, from the place that tells us revenge – like beer – is a drink best served cold.

Consider: It wasn’t a female Alabama fan that poisoned the landmark oak trees at Auburn’s Toomer’s Corner. That was one Harvey Updyke Jr., who was convicted of criminal damage of an agricultural facility after poisoning the trees during Auburn’s 2010 season that ended with a national championship.

Good old Harvey was arrested, according to published reports, after a man identifying himself as “Al from Dadeville” called into Paul Finebaum’s radio show claiming he had poured herbicide around the trees at Toomer’s Corner in the wake of Auburn’s victory over Alabama in the Iron Bowl. Harvey’s out of jail now but still on probation.

Fortunately, Fuente didn’t have to include a segment in his clinic for women warning them not to poison the other team’s trees. It’s assumed no matter how passionate they become about their football, they will have more sense and restraint than that.

“We have a lot of fun doing it,” Fuente said of the clinic, which was scheduled to be held on Thursday night, July 24. “It’s a pretty relaxed environment. They’re getting to learn about the game we all love.”

And by “we” he means not just fans, but the coaches that devote their lives to the game. Fuente’s wife and mother attend the clinic each year, as do his assistant coaches’ wives.

Which brings up a question I asked Fuente: What if we flipped the script? If we had, say, a coach’s wife conducting a clinic for men that at some level would benefit all women, what kind of clinic would it be?

“I hadn’t thought about it like that,” Fuente said.

I had because I’m a glutton for misery. So I consulted a woman close to me – the one present for the honeymoon 27 years ago in Hawaii – and she didn’t hesitate to call a full-on blitz.

“Housekeeping,” she said, and I swear I heard a linebacker-like snort. “A clinic on housekeeping. So they would realize how hard it is and help.”

Trust me, we’d rather be poisoned.

Don Wade’s column appears weekly in The Daily News and The Memphis News. Listen to Wade on “Middays with Greg & Eli” every Tuesday at noon on Sports 56 AM and 87.7 FM.

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