Auburn tree poisoner fails to appear for hearing

OPELIKA, Ala. –The University of Alabama fan convicted of poisoning Auburn University’s oak trees failed to attend a hearing Wednesday on why he hasn’t paid court-ordered restitution.

The Opelika-Auburn news reports Harvey Updyke, a retired Texas state trooper who lives in Louisiana, didn’t show up for a hearing before Lee County Circuit Judge Jacob Walker.

Prosecutors planned to seek a warrant on Updyke for failing to appear, and the judge will decide later whether to order his arrest.

The judge also gave prosecutors a month to review a letter from Updyke’s doctor saying the 71-year-old man wasn’t well enough to travel to Opelika for court. Submitted Tuesday, the letter said Updyke suffered from conditions including severe coronary disease, congestive heart failure, diabetes, strokes and depression.

In a public Facebook post earlier this week, Updyke wrote that he would travel to Alabama by bus and expected to be jailed, possibly to “not make it out” because of his health.

“ROLL DAMN TIDE!!” the post ended.

Updyke pleaded guilty in 2013 to poisoning trees at Auburn’s Toomer’s Corner. Court records show Updyke has paid only $6,900 of about $800,000 he was ordered to pay in penalties and restitution.

Romney raises concerns with NCAA proposal

Sen. Mitt Romney expressed concern about potential inequality that could result from paying student-athletes for their names, images and likenesses, saying it wouldn’t be fair to have some college players “driving around in Ferraris.”

Romney appeared on ESPN’s Outside the Lines on Wednesday to address Tuesday’s decision by the NCAA to take steps toward allowing college athletes to be paid. The Republican senator from Utah said he generally supports the idea of changing the NCAA rule, but also urged caution in implementation.

“What you can’t have is a couple athletes on campus driving around in Ferraris while everybody else is basically having a hard time making ends meet,” Romney said. “And you can’t have a setting where some schools that are in major markets or have big-sport followings, some schools are like the honey pot, and all the great athletes all want to go to those handful of schools, then you kill collegiate sports. There needs to be some adjustment to the whole name, image and likeness approach to make sure we don’t create those problems.”

NCAA’s top decision-makers voted unanimously Tuesday to start the process of modifying its rule to allow college athletes to profit from their names, images and likenesses “in a manner consistent with the collegiate model.”

The board wants each of the three NCAA divisions to implement new rules by January 2021.

But Romney, who has collaborated with Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., on similar legislation, said there needs to be parity.

“I don’t think you can have an athlete at a school making a million dollars a year at that school and lording it over everybody else on the team and everyone else on the campus,” he told OTL. “That’s what they’re going to get when they go pro. While they’re at school, they’re still a student-athlete, and there has to be some limit to how much money is coming to an individual and there has to be a way to get compensation to other members of the team. I mean, that left tackle also needs to have some capacity to have some funds to be able to make ends meet and to be able to help their family.”

Romney declined to address the tax implications of paying players but noted it could be one negative impact on college sports overall.

The state of California passed a NIL bill that goes into effect in January 2023, and more than a dozen states have expressed interest in creating laws similar to California’s in the past several months.

Romney said that if the NCAA proposal does not go forward, he expects Congress to take action on the issue.

Auburn QB Gatewood leaves team, enters portal

Auburn backup quarterback Joey Gatewood has left the team and entered the transfer portal, Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said Wednesday.

Gatewood’s departure took place Tuesday after he met with Auburn coaches.

“He’s just at a point now where he wants to be a starting quarterback and feels like he needs to start looking for schools now so that he can find the right spot, and I respect that,” Malzahn said.

Malzahn said he appreciated everything Gatewood had done for the Auburn program and that “everyone in our program will be rooting for him moving forward.”

Gatewood and true freshman Bo Nix competed for the starting job throughout the offseason, with Nix ultimately winning it.

Nix has started Auburn’s first eight games with mixed results, leading a winning comeback in the season opener against Oregon but struggling in road losses to Florida and LSU. Gatewood, a redshirt freshman, has appeared in seven contests, completing 5 of 7 pass attempts with two touchdowns. He also has 29 rushes for 148 yards and three touchdowns. Auburn used Gatewood mostly in a short-yardage run package this season.

Gatewood, a native of Jacksonville, Florida, ranked as ESPN’s No. 3 dual-threat quarterback and No. 36 overall player in the 2018 recruiting class. Redshirt freshman Cord Sandberg is expected to back up Nix with Gatewood’s departure.

Auburn returns to the field Saturday, when it hosts Ole Miss.

ESPN’s Chris Low contributed to this report.

Source: Auburn QB Gatewood leaves team

Auburn backup quarterback Joey Gatewood has left the team, a source told ESPN.

247 Sports first reported Gatewood’s departure, which took place Tuesday after he met with Tigers coaches. Gatewood and true freshman Bo Nix competed for the starting job throughout the offseason, with Nix ultimately winning it.

Nix has started Auburn’s first eight games with mixed results, leading a winning comeback in the season opener against Oregon but struggling in road losses to Florida and LSU. Gatewood, a redshirt freshman, has appeared in seven contests, completing 5 of 7 pass attempts with two touchdowns. He also has 29 rushes for 148 yards and three touchdowns. Auburn used Gatewood mostly in a short-yardage run package this season.

Gatewood, a native of Jacksonville, Florida, ranked as ESPN’s No. 3 dual-threat quarterback and No. 36 overall player in the 2018 recruiting class. Redshirt freshman Cord Sandberg is expected to back up Nix with Gatewood’s departure.

Auburn returns to the field Saturday when it hosts Ole Miss.

Sooner or later, everyone ends up in the Bottom 10

Bottom 10 inspirational thought of the week:

Pore Jud is daid
Pore Jud Fry is daid
All gather ’round his cawfin now and cry
He had a heart of gold
And he wasn’t very old-
Oh why did such a feller have to die?
Pore Jud is daid
Pore Jud Fry is daid
He’s lookin’ oh so peaceful and serene …
He’s lookin’ oh so purty and so nice
He looks like he’s asleep
It’s a shame that he won’t keep
But it’s summer and we’re running out of ice
Pore Jud is daid

– “Pore Jud is Daid” from “Oklahoma!”

Here at Bottom 10 headquarters, we love a good musical, like “Oklahoma!” We also love a good scary movie, like the Stephen King masterpieces “Christine” and “Maximum Overdrive,” during which automobiles and machines of all kinds become possessed and turn against the humans who drive them. And we really like it when those two forms of entertainment are melded together, and right in time for Halloween.

I’m talking about the Sooner Schooner.

It was two weekends ago that the venerable old covered wagon went off the pregame script and barrel-rolled over the Memorial Stadium turf like it was an extra in “The Fast and the Furious.” Shortly thereafter, the University of Oklahoma announced that college football’s most famous caisson was out for the season. The following weekend, the Schooner-less Sooners blew into Kansas State like a buckboard that forgot how to buck and spent the first three quarters stiff as a board.

When my daughter was little, we’d left Walt Disney World and taken a back road to the hotel, past a Disney-owned industrial park. Some fellow cast members were off-loading Cinderella’s carriage from a flatbed tow truck. The rear axle was broken. My wife and I immediately looked into the back seat to see whether our little girl, wearing her blue Cinderella dress, had seen it. She had. We were mortified. She was not. She said, “They’re just bringing it to the Fairy Godmother so she can fix it. I bet that’s her office.”

I wonder if it’s too late to haul the Schooner to the Orlando suburbs for a magic wand repair job.

With apologies to Scott Gibson, the RUF/NEK queen and Steve Harvey, here’s this week’s Bottom 10.

1. Akron-monious (0-8)

The Rubber Kings started a crucial Bottom 10 #MACtion run by facing then-2-5 Northern Ill-uh-noise, which is now 3-5 Northern Illinois after Zipping its way to a 49-0 win. Now Akron walks into another Pillow Fight of the Week when it travels to Bottom 10 Waiting List member Boiling Green. The following week brings a visit from Eastern Not Western Michigan, in what is likely to be a showdown between the bottom teams in each MAC division.

2. UMess (1-7)

The Minutemen have done so much impossible stuff this season that we are considering starting a petition to have them renamed the Massachusetts Ethan Hunts. Not only have they played in four Pillow Fights of the Week in eight games, two of those have been Pillow Fights of the Week of the Year of Century (PFOTWOTYOTC). They won the first, over Akron back in Week 5, but lost PFOTWOTYOTC Episode II to UCan’t and did it in shocking fashion, 56-35. It was the most disappointing loss suffered by Minutemen on their home turf since Bunker Hill. Now they stick with their Revolutionary War theme by hosting Liberty, which just did something even more impossible than all of the impossible stuff that UMass has done. It lost at Rutgers.

3. Minute Rice (0-8)

The Owls might want to bottle up any fear they feel during Halloween and use it to condition themselves for the remainder of the 2019 season. According to ESPN Stats & Info’s spookily accurate FPI machine, Rice has a 24%, 14% and 24% chance to win its next three games, against Marshall, MTSU and North Texas. Then comes the Owls’ traditional Bottom 10 Bowl season finale against UTEP. Right now, they’re favored at 66%. Rice favored on the road? Now that’s scary.

4. Whew, Mexico State (0-8)

The Other Aggies traveled 3,400 miles round-trip to Georgia Southern and suffered a 41-7 loss. After facing Open Date U., they will travel 2,400 miles round-trip to Ole Miss to play a game in which they currently have a 3.2% win probability. It reminds me of that time I pedaled my Schwinn all the way across town in heavy automobile traffic to ask out Tammy Jo Hoogenakker and she told me no and to stop being so creepy. I made that trip twice, too.

5. Boo-mer Schooner (7-1)

Oklahoma’s loss at Kansas State was so unexpected, it set off a chain of equally bizarre events, including an all-night Twitter feud between Sooners wide receiver Jadon Haselwood and Georgia fans, still (Kirby) smarting over a tweet of Haselwood’s following their shocking loss to South Carolina, and a satirical SB Nation story stating that the Wildcats were forced to issue a formal apology for hurting the Big 12’s CFP chances … that was, of course, misunderstood by some readers as being real. In related news, this is Oklahoma’s first appearance in the Coveted Fifth Spot in a while, and there’s no doubt that, like many UGA fans after the South Carolina game, they won’t understand this, either.

6. UTEPID (1-6)

The Miners have also racked up enough frequent flyer miles to fill the Sun Bowl, but they aren’t going to waste them on seat upgrades or extra in-flight snacks. They are going to wait until the final two weeks of the season and cash them in on not just one, but back-to-back PFOTWOFTYOFTCs against New Mexico State and Rice. Their only win of the season was Week 1 against Houston Baptist, 36-34, the same HBU that is currently ranked last in the FCS Southland Conference. So, a pair of season-ending losses would slingshot UTEP toward the top of the Bottom 10 like Ricky Bobby around Cal Naughton Jr. at Talladega.

7. Old The Minions (1-6)

Cue the banana song!

8. UCan’t (2-6)

Connecticut’s win over UMass earned head coach Randy Edsall a total of 10 bonus payments (scored first, led at halftime, offensive points per possession, etc.), matching his season high of $28,000 in extra cash, also earned for the team’s first win, Week 1 over Wagner. I don’t know what he’ll spend it on, but I know it won’t be headphones or Fortnite. In the days leading up to the UMass game, he went on a rant claiming that those items, along with social media and phones, have made today’s generation of players soft and not as mentally tough as their forefathers. After the news conference, he received a $5,000 “get off my lawn” bonus.

9. South Alabama Redundancies (1-7)

The Jaguars lost to Appalachian State as the Mountaineers continue to make what they hope is a run to a New Year’s Six invitation as the Gang of Five conferences’ Cotton Bowl participant. A little advice to App State: When you send out your CFP marketing and lobbying materials, list the University of South Alabama as USA on your schedule. Because those other schools might have wins over USF and BYU, but it’ll look like y’all beat America.

10. Aren’t-kansas (2-6)

The bad news? Razorbacks fans had to endure a week of listening to “With Tua Tagovailoa out, good thing Bama basically has a bye week this weekend.” The good news? No one on special teams threw a hot potato dying quail fake punt pass into the hands of a Bama defender.

Waiting List: In A Rut-gers (2-6), North by Northwestern (1-6), Pur-don’t (2-6), (Not) New Mexico (State But Close) (2-6), Northern Ill-uh-noise (3-5), UNLV (2-6), the Vanderbilt team that lost to UNLV (2-5), Living on Tulsa Time (2-6), Texas State Armadillos (2-5).

Miami QB Williams back to starter role vs. FSU

Miami quarterback Jarren Williams will start against Florida State on Saturday, coach Manny Diaz said Wednesday.

Williams started the season but injured his throwing shoulder in a loss to Virginia Tech in early October. N’Kosi Perry replaced him in the starting lineup for three games, but Williams took over for an ineffective Perry last week against Pitt and led the game-winning drive.

Diaz said after practice Wednesday that Williams was “outstanding” this week.

On the season, Williams has thrown for 1,136 yards with eight touchdowns and three interceptions.

LSU DB Delpit (ankle) may play vs. Alabama

LSU coach Ed Orgeron expects injured star defensive back Grant Delpit to be available against Alabama on Nov. 9, but he says it’s not a certainty he will play.

Delpit, who was a unanimous All-American last season and is a potential first-round pick in next year’s NFL draft, injured his ankle during last weekend’s win over Auburn, bringing into question his status when No. 1 LSU plays No. 2 Alabama following a shared bye this week.

“I feel like Grant Delpit’s going to be ready,” Orgeron said during Wednesday’s SEC teleconference. “It’s going to be close. I don’t know how much he’s going to practice this week or next week, but I do believe he’ll be game-time ready.”

An LSU source told ESPN that Delpit is expected to return to practice next week.

LSU isn’t the only team dealing with injuries to star players. Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is recovering from surgery he had to repair a high ankle sprain on Oct. 20.

Tagovailoa is expected to return to practice on Wednesday and be available to play against LSU, but like Orgeron, Saban has been less than certain about what the future holds for his star quarterback.

“We’ll have to see what he can do and evaluate his mobility and performance,” Saban said on Monday. “You can’t really predict any of those things. You just have to let it happen and see how it goes.”

He later added: “We can’t know. I can’t know. I’ve got no crystal ball.”

Orgeron said that there’s “no doubt” LSU will be prepared for Tagovailoa to play when his team travels to Tuscaloosa on Nov. 9.

USC frosh McCoy wont make debut until 2020

USC freshman wide receiver Bru McCoy, who transferred back to the program after spending the spring at Texas, will not play this season.

Trojans coach Clay Helton told reporters following Tuesday’s practice that McCoy, who has been battling a mysterious illness since the summer, will not make his collegiate debut until 2020.

“He’s doing a great job academically, doing a great job in strength and conditioning,” Helton said. “He’ll be ready for spring.”

McCoy began light participation in practice with USC on Sept. 16 after the illness subsided. McCoy’s father, Horace, told several media outlets in August that doctors couldn’t pinpoint the illness or what had caused the fevers Bru continued to experience.

Bru McCoy would have needed an NCAA waiver to play because he transferred twice after enrolling at USC in January. Ranked as ESPN’s top wide receiver and the No. 27 overall player in the 2019 class, McCoy transferred to Texas after Kliff Kingsbury left USC’s coaching staff to become the Arizona Cardinals head coach.

He went through spring practice with the Longhorns but transferred back to USC and re-enrolled in June. A Texas contingent featuring coach Tom Herman and starting quarterback Sam Ehlinger went to California to try and convince McCoy to remain with Texas.

The 6-foot-3, 210-pound McCoy had 80 receptions for 1,430 yards and 19 touchdowns as a senior at Southern California powerhouse Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana.

Saban says Tua a game-time decision vs. LSU

Alabama coach Nick Saban said quarterback Tua Tagovailoa will be a “game-time decision” when the No. 2-ranked Crimson Tide host No. 1 LSU on Nov. 9.

Saban said on the SEC teleconference that Tagovailoa, who had surgery to repair a high ankle sprain 10 days ago, is progressing well in his recovery and is expected to practice on Wednesday for the first time since the injury.

“He’ll be a game-time decision based on how he progresses,” Saban said.

Whether Tagovailoa plays or not, the Tide passing game will be without its starting tight end, Miller Forristall, who will be sidelined for approximately six weeks as he recovers from throat surgery, Saban said on Wednesday.

Forristall, who has caught three touchdowns this season, injured his throat during last Saturday’s win over Arkansas.

The roughly six-week timeline would coincide with the end of the regular season and could allow him to return for a possible SEC Championship Game or bowl game.

Alabama isn’t the only team with injury concerns heading into the Nov. 9 game against LSU.

The Tigers’ All-American defensive back Grant Delpit injured his ankle during last weekend’s win over Auburn and isn’t expected to practice until next week, a source told ESPN.

“I feel like Grant Delpit’s going to be ready,” LSU coach Ed Orgeron said during Wednesday’s SEC teleconference. “It’s going to be close. I don’t know how much he’s going to practice this week or next week, but I do believe he’ll be game-time ready.”

LSU DB Delpit (ankle) may play vs. Bama

LSU coach Ed Orgeron expects injured star defensive back Grant Delpit to be available against Alabama on Nov. 9, but he says it’s not a certainty he will play.

Delpit, who was a unanimous All-American last season and is a potential first-round pick in next year’s NFL draft, injured his ankle during last weekend’s win over Auburn, bringing into question his status when No. 1 LSU plays No. 2 Alabama following a shared bye this week.

“I feel like Grant Delpit’s going to be ready,” Orgeron said during Wednesday’s SEC teleconference. “It’s going to be close. I don’t know how much he’s going to practice this week or next week, but I do believe he’ll be game-time ready.”

An LSU source told ESPN that Delpit is expected to return to practice next week.

LSU isn’t the only team dealing with injuries to star players. Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is recovering from surgery he had to repair a high ankle sprain on Oct. 20.

Tagovailoa is expected to return to practice on Wednesday and be available to play against LSU, but like Orgeron, Saban has been less than certain about what the future holds for his star quarterback.

“We’ll have to see what he can do and evaluate his mobility and performance,” Saban said on Monday. “You can’t really predict any of those things. You just have to let it happen and see how it goes.”

He later added: “We can’t know. I can’t know. I’ve got no crystal ball.”

Orgeron said that there’s “no doubt” LSU will be prepared for Tagovailoa to play when his team travels to Tuscaloosa on Nov. 9.