Auburn coach Gene Chizik and Alabama coach Nick Saban issued a joint statement today about the Toomer's Corner oak trees poisoning:
“This is an isolated incident by one individual that is not representative of what the greatest rivalry in college football is all about. The players and coaches at both schools have a tremendous amount of respect for each other on and off the field, and we encourage our fans to show that same amount of respect now and in the future. We will move beyond this regrettable incident and continue to enjoy this great rivalry.”
Chizik also released a statement specifically to Auburn fans:
“It’s unfortunate that an incident like this has occurred, but it was an isolated act by one individual. I encourage the entire Auburn family to continue to show class and dignity moving forward. While the trees at Toomer’s may have been poisoned, the roots and spirit of Auburn will continue to be as strong as they have ever been.”
Looks like the schools are serious about trying to cool off the rivalry a bit. Earlier today, the student presidents of both school issued a joint statement urging the fans to act in a respectful manner.
Here's the full thing:
We are disappointed with the vandalism that has occurred to the famous oak trees at Toomer's Corner on the campus of Auburn University. We share this disappointment with the Auburn and Alabama alumni, students and fans who recognize this as an insult to the longstanding and unparalleled rivalry between our two exceptional schools.
Now more than ever is a time to reflect on what this rivalry means to all the people associated with these two universities. As collegiate students from both Auburn and Alabama prepare to take leadership roles across the state and nation, we collectively welcome our responsibility in shaping the future of our alma maters. We must ensure that the values our universities have imbued in us - values of respect, fairness, empathy and honesty - live on for future generations.
Part of that responsibility is to make certain that the greatest rivalry in college sports goes forward in an atmosphere of honor and mutual respect.
Today, we encourage all students to act in a manner that represents the mission and values of our institutions. By committing ourselves to those values, we may look forward to a future that is marked by commonalities: the preservation of traditions, the pursuit of excellence, and the constant betterment of both Auburn University and The University of Alabama.
War Eagle, and Roll Tide,
Kurt Sasser, SGA President, Auburn University
James Fowler, SGA President, The University of Alabama