Nightly News | February 17, 2011
>>> our final report tonight comes from the american south , where as you may know they take their college football very seriously, and rivalries can get pretty heated. but tonight we have a story about a long-standing rivalry where things have now gotten out of hand. and because of what has happened, what one man has apparently done, the entire auburn university community and alabama is heart broken. our report from nbc 's ron mott.
>> reporter: for generations, a burn fans have streamed into toomer's corner to celebrate big moments, like last month's national football championship . yet little did they know the pair of 130-year-old live oak trees they historically roll with toilet paper in triumph were under attack, poisoned, police say, by an apparent rival.
>> al is in alabama .
>> reporter: police tell nbc news that rival 62-year-old harvey almorn updyke, a supporter of the alabama crimson tide , broadcast his dirty deeds three weeks ago on a national radio call-in show.
>> i poisoned the two toomer's trees. they're not dead yet but they definitely will die.
>> is that against the law to poison a tree?
>> do you think i care?
>> okay. i really don't. roll damn tide.
>> the caller said it's revenge for auburn fans rolling those same trees when bear bryant died in 1983 . today on auburn's campus, a memorial and a painful question hanging in the air . will the trees live?
>> the concentration of spike basically found within the soil says there's a low probability.
>> reporter: spike 80 df was found in the soil in lethal concentrations. despite the long odds for their survival, the university is doing everything they can to try to save these trees. even if they don't make it, the auburn faithful say this cherished tradition will go on.
>> vandalizing someone's property, that's just wrong.
>> in the end we'll still roll. it won't be the same.
>> reporter: roll, no matter what, to keep a century old legacy from being uprooted. ron mott, nbc news, auburn, alabama .