Will Big Ten rivalries go too far?

The vandalism at Auburn's Toomer's Corner dominated college football talk last week, and angered many of us who love the sport and its sacred traditions.

Colleague Mark Schlabach wrote a strong column about the Auburn situation and started off by questioning whether similar acts would happen elsewhere.

He writes:

The Stanford Tree has gone into witness protection.

Uga's owners are using Gators to taste test their English bulldog's Alpo.

Bevo is even masquerading as a buffalo.

Apparently, it's open season on college football's greatest traditions.

He could have added Big Ten landmarks like the Ohio Stadium rotunda, Nittany Lion Shrine at Penn State, the Spartan Statue at Michigan State and the Nile Kinnick statue at Iowa.

I'll admit when I first heard about what happened, I chalked it up to typical SEC lunacy. College football might be religion in the South, but let's just say I'd much rather interact with you fine folks than the crowd colleague Chris Low deals with on a daily basis.

But the Toomer's Corner situation also got me thinking about whether we'd see similar problems in the Big Ten.

Rivalries in this league get rather heated, and the Big Ten isn't immune to acts of vandalism.

The Block M at Michigan Stadium was vandalized last spring. Iowa's Kinnick Stadium was vandalized in 2005. Penn State assistant coach Jay Paterno reminds us in his weekly column how someone broke off part of the Nittany Lion Shrine in 1978.

While those acts were unfortunate, they didn't wipe out the landmark for good, which likely will happen with the Toomer's Corner trees.

The lunatic fringe exists with pretty much every fan base, including those in the Big Ten. We'd be naïve to rule out a Toomer's Corner situation ever happening in the Big Ten, but I'd like to believe you guys are better than that.

Jay Paterno writes:

I hope that Auburn will find a way to preserve their unique tradition. If the Toomer’s Corner trees do come down I am sure that there will be grown men and women who will shed some tears. They’ll be saddened by the loss of place, the site of college memories, of youth and moments that bound them together with their fellow students.

That void will be a reminder of college football fanaticism gone awry, and a reminder that football should be a part of life, not bigger than life itself.

Words to remember.