Published April 21, 2011 - 4:54pm
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Harvey Updyke went on The Paul Finebaum Show Thursday to share his side of the Tiger Express beatdown. He says he doesn’t blame Auburn fans who are mad at him, he doesn’t want this to be his legacy, and … well, so much more. A transcript, with Updyke in blockquotes:
OK Paul. Listen, before we get started. I want everybody to realize I did not want to go on the radio. We’ve had numerous conversations. I don’t want any more publicity. I’d like to apologize to my children, the University of Alabama, and my high school coach. He didn’t go wrong with me, Paul. It really bothers me that he’s upset over this stuff. I’m gonna have to correct some stuff that Glennon has told the media. If you remember your first conversation with Glennon, he stated I was a 72-year-old man and a retired Alabama state trooper. Wayne Barnes told him 62, Texas. So, Glennon just misspoke. Every time you tell a story it changes.
All you conspiracy theories: I stopped at the first station that sold drinks. I wasn’t getting gas. I was not at the gas pump. I stopped to get a bottle of green tea. It was a busy place. I was talking on my telephone to Wayne Barnes, telling him what went on at the trial. I parked at the end. I’ve been back since. When a police officer came later, he parked at the same place i parked. I wasn’t around back of the station or back by the bathroom. I was at the side of it. I pulled up and sat in the car for 30 to 45 minutes, was getting out of the car, turned around, and something hit me in the face. I’m not saying it’s an Auburn fan. I’ve had numerous Alabama fans upset as the Auburn fans. The Tide for Toomer’s people. I am not accusing anybody. The only thing I’m saying is you can look at my face and tell that I or somebody hit me. Both of my eyebrows are bruised. There’s a straight line going from one to the other. I have a gash between my eyes, they said it may need a stitch or two. I have the band they put on your arm at the emergency room. I went in to the ER — and another thing I’d like to say: I did go in the service station and ask them where the closest emergency room. I didn’t go in there in pain or bleeding.
Do you know how long you were out?
I don’t think I was knocked out. May have been. They didn’t try to kill me. If we were trying to get publicity about this, wouldn’t it have been better for me to get attacked before the hearing? I was in Auburn from 9 am yesterday morning, I drove in from out of state. Went into Tiger Town, went into Books-A-Million to buy a book — The Lost Ring. It’s on sale in there for $4.95.
[Glennon Threatt announces his presence.]
They hit me, Glennon, like I said. I corrected some things you said. I was not at the gas pump. I stopped to get green tea. Me and Glennon have not gone over this. It was so many people at the courthouse they had to change the court room. After it was over with, media came from everywhere. Glennon did all the talking. They followed us all the way to Glennon’s car. He closed the door, and I was in the car probably a minute, two minutes. Everybody knows I have real bad diabetes. I was real thirsty. Why wouldn’t I stop there?
How do you react to people who don’t believe you?
I’ll be honest, when I told Wayne, I don’t think Wayne believed me at first. All night long I’ve been thinking, and it doesn’t seem possible. I told blame people. But I don’t care. I didn’t want this publicity. I wanted all this stuff to go away. It’s not going to. I don’t want a reality show. I’m not doing this for publicity.
This isn’t a Charlie Sheen stunt?
I am not winning. I am losing. I know it’s my fault. I shouldn’t have called into your show. My rent has gone up three times as high as it was. They put me on a $50,000 bond. Wayne Barnes put the money up. I’m attempting to pay him back. I am losing a lot of stuff over this. Paul, I just want it to go away. I really believe they gon put me in prison. There’s probably a third of the people sitting back and laughing at this train wreck. Some Alabama people believe me, and no Auburn people believe me. I was not afraid. If I’d planned this, it would’ve happened out in the sticks. There was a lot of people there. Why somebody didn’t see it, I don’t know.
The events of yesterday have been the talk of this state. Everyone knows the genesis of this was your phone call here talking about the Toomer’s trees. Can you address that?
One of the biggest mistakes I ever made in my life. All my adult life my wives kinda said I’m a crap-stirrer. I like to stir crap. I was just trying to upset the Auburn nation. Paul, I never thought it’d come to this.
You were trying to upset Auburn by calling the show or poisoning the trees?
By calling the show and telling them. I don’t want those trees to die. I would give anything in the world if this had never happened. I don’t want my legacy to be the Auburn tree-poisoner. I guess it’s too late now. I listen to Paul Finebaum every day. I walk my dogs after it’s over with. I get involved as everybody else. One day, [Glennon interject, pointing out Updyke has not confessed] I am Al from Dadeville. I called the show. I Man pushed the wrong button and did what he wanted to do.
I Man’s call to this program pushed your button.
I do not want to even get any credit for that. But yeah.
What did he say?
Well, just listen at him. He’s not worried about Auburn, just Alabama. It’s a two-way street, Paul. I’ve lived most of my adult life in Texas. There’s nothing like this in Texas. Texas-Texas A&M … people just don’t understand. I just got caught up in it, Paul. All my life I’ve been an Alabama fan. i have children 30 years old named Bear Bryant and Crimson Tide. Crimson likes her name, and Bear likes his name. My baby girl, I wanted to name her Ally Bama. That is true. Call her Ally, or call her Bama. My new wife said you dont ruined the other two, you’re not ruining this one. i have 40 different Alabama hats. Every time I go out I have an Alabama T-shirt. If I was listening to me on the radio, I’d say, yeah he’s a nut. I went through the bad years. I saw Tommy Tuberville sticking his fingers and thumbs up in the air. I don’t have season tickets. I never went to Alabama. I went to a small junior college. But I am an Alabama fan. They can put me in prison. I am an Alabama fan. I’ll apologize for what I’ve done to the university. I saw Nick Saban sent money. It’s not their fault, and I apologize.
It sounds like you were listening to this program and you snapped. Do you think you had full appraisal of your mental capacities?
I’m just like anybody else. I care to the extremes. I know I do.
Glennon: are you feeling better now, physically?
No, I have a headache. Whoever hit me wasn’t trying to kill me. But you can look at me and tell I got hit.
[Threatt and Updyke talk about having taken reasonable precautions against Updyke getting heckled, Threatt having taken the case pro bono, and so forth. I missed most of it.]
[Finebaum plays Updyke's original phone call about the trees.]
Harvey, what did you want to say to Tammy?
Well, I still can’t say it on the air. You know how her voice is and how she’s always ranting and raving? I was just gonna tell her to bite my butt. I just want to tell Wayne happy birthday, and to tell my wife I’m about 60 miles from home.
Let me talk about the human element of this. People can say whatever they want about you, but what toll has it taken on your family?
It’s my own fault, but my rent’s — I had lakefront for $300 a month. Now I’m paying $900 a month. On a fixed income it’s quite a bit. It’s devestated all my kids. My wife thinks it’s crazy. I’m not worried about somebody shooting me, but everybody else is, and it’s taking a toll. My son didn’t want me coming down here by myself. I’m living some place I don’t want to live. I don’t think I’ll ever go to another Alabama game. People recognize me in Louisiana. Guy walked over to us and said you’re Al from Dadeville. I didn’t have anything Alabama on. His daughter, who’s fixing to be a student at Alabama, she said that’s all that was on the news and she wanted a picture with me. I just want it to be over.
You talked about the reaction of coach Saban. Of all the things that hurt you, do you feel like you’ve let down the University of Alabama?
You know I have, Paul. Jay Barker called me a scumbag. I have hurt the University of Alabama. That’s the last thing I wanted to do. It started out as a prank. And they’re talking about putting me in prison for poisoning the water table.
You’re a law enforcement officer. Some thoughts on being in prison…
I have put other police officers in jail. If they put me in there, it’s going to be rough. I don’t want to go to my grave saying Harvey the tree-poisoner. I’ve done a lot of good things. That wasn’t one of them. I would’ve been remembered as a great father, great grandfather. The judge won’t let me go to Texas to see my grandchildren. I’ve got either 15 or 16 grandchildren in Texas. I don’t have the money to go to Australia. [Wants to go to grandchildren's birthdays. Says he doesn't think any of this is funny.]
Auburn people are listening to this and saying cry me a river. This guy destroyed something precious to us. They’ve all said you can rot in hell. Some have said you should be hung from a tree. How do you respond?
Well, I can’t blame them. I can understand. If I was an Auburn fan, I would be upset too. I just want to tell them I’m not a bad person. I’m a Alabama fan. Tommy Lewis and the ’54 Cotton Bowl. He came off the bench and tackled the Rice player. They asked him why’d you do it? He said, “I just have too much Bama in me.” Too full of Bama. To the Auburn people, I don’t blame them. I’m gonna get what I deserve. [Says goodbyes.]
This is gonna make people mad, but I gotta do it. Roll damn Tide.