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Accused poisoner denies it, feels bad

AUBURN, Ala. — Harvey Updyke, the avowed Alabama fan accused of poisoning Auburn's iconic Toomer's oak trees, broke his silence on the Paul Finebaum radio show Thursday.

Updyke apologized to his children and the University of Alabama, denying guilt but admitting he called into the radio show as "Al from Dadeville" in January to brag about the poisonings, calling it a "prank."

"It's one of the biggest mistakes I've made," he said. "My wives said I am a crowd-stirrer. I was just trying to upset the Auburn nation."

Updyke, 62, faces a criminal mischief charge. Additional federal charges are a possibility.

"I really think they're going to put me in prison," he said. "I don't want it to be my legacy. I don't want to go to my grave being 'Harvey the Tree-Poisoner.'

"If I was in Auburn's place, I would be upset, too. I just want to tell them that really and truly I'm not a bad person. I'm an Alabama fan. Tommy Lewis in the '54 Cotton Bowl, he come off the bench and tackled the Rice player that was running down the field 20 yards in front of everybody else. They asked him later, 'Tommy why'd you do it?' He said, 'I just had too much 'Bama in me.' All my life, people have told me I cared too much about Alabama."

AUBURN to visit obama: The national champs will be honored on April 29 at the White House.

Bowl updates: The Capital One Bowl will be Jan. 2 and the Champs Sports Bowl was set for Dec. 29, both in Orlando. … Belk Bowl officials said the game in Charlotte, N.C., will begin at 8 p.m. on Dec. 27. Last year USF beat Clemson when the game was called the Meineke Bowl.

If Sheen is immobile in Tampa, here's why

ATLANTA — Actor Charlie Sheen, 45, who will perform at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa tonight, stopped by Georgia Tech's baseball practice Thursday before his show in Atlanta.

He took ground balls, shagged flies and hit about a half-dozen balls to the warning track. Then he received treatment from Yellow Jackets trainer Walt Smith.

"Epic day at the yard," Sheen tweeted. "My ulnar tendon dead. Walt Smith, the genius, fixing it."

Basketball: Miami close on new coach?

CORAL GABLES — George Mason's Jim Larranaga is the leading candidate to become Miami's coach, and he reportedly planned to tell his players Thursday night that he was leaving.

It's not known if Larranaga, 61, who has led George Mason of the Colonial Athletic Association to five NCAA Tournaments in 14 seasons, has been offered the job to replace Frank Haith. He earned $525,000 this past season and could double that at UM.

Coming, going: Shooting guard Alec Burks is leaving Colorado for the NBA draft after a record-setting sophomore season and plans to hire an agent. … Michigan sophomore guard Darius Morris declared for the draft but has not hired an agent.

FSU women's assistant to UCLA: The Bruins hired Cori Close as women's coach, the former Bruins assistant's first head coaching job. She spent the past seven seasons as an FSU assistant.

Accused poisoner denies it, feels bad 04/21/11 [Last modified: Friday, April 22, 2011 12:35am]
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