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Chizik: Cam Newton Will Play This Weekend

There are many questions surrounding Cam Newton and his status with the Auburn Tigers.

Internet rumors Wednesday afternoon stated that Newton would be suspended later today. Those rumors, which reportedly came from Ian Fitzsimmons of KESN Radio in Dallas, were misreported.

Clay Travis of FanHouse spoke to Fitzsimmons, who actually said on air: “With this story, something big could happen in 3-4 hours.”

Someone heard that quote and ran with it as news. Auburn coach Gene Chizik confirmed Newton’s status for this Saturday’s game against Georgia.

“Cameron Newton will be playing Saturday against the Georgia Bulldogs,” Chizik said during his appearance on the weekly SEC coaches teleconference.

One other note: Several bookmakers in Las Vegas and online have suspended betting on this week’s Auburn-Georgia game.

That’s the latest. There will be more rumors, mostly inaccurate and some perhaps on point, as the day continues. We will keep you updated as it happens.

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SEC: Even more Cameron Newton allegations

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(AP photo/Dave Martin)

(AP photo/Dave Martin)

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The Latest On The Newton Saga

Wanted to give you a quick catch-up on the latest on the Cameron Newton situation.  Here goes:

* An angry Gene Chizik spoke out today in defense of his star quarterback.  “So I want to make this very clear, because I’m wasting my time addressing allegations that completely, to be frank, blow my mind that they’re even out there because there are federal privacy laws that dictate that these things don’t even get out in public.

“But I’m standing up here on a very important week trying to defend something that is quite frankly garbage.  Is there a wizard behind the curtain, I don’t know.  Is there one?  Is there two?  Are there 10?  I don’t know, and I don’t care.  But what I do care about is coming to the defense of not only a great football player, but a great human being who comes from a great family.”

He may say he doesn’t care, but you can be sure that Chizik is wondering — like a lot of folks around the conference — if Mississippi State or Florida sources are behind the stories that keep popping up.

“I’m defending a young man who deserves it,” Chizik said.  “Whatever people want to drum up and dream up, that’s not changing.  Cameron is going to be focused on Georgia this week.”

* Newton himself spoke with the press today, but he handled the session with cool class and showed no anger.  “Am I hurt?  No.  Am I curious?  A little bit.  But it really doesn’t bother me that much.  I’m a blessed individual.”

Newton would not discuss the academic charges brought against him this morning in report by Thayer Evans of FoxSports.com.

“I’m not going to entertain something that happened three months, six months, but two years ago.  I’m not going to talk about it, beating a dead horse.”

He also said that he wants to believe Urban Meyer when he says he’s not behind the information that’s been leaked.  “The coach that I knew, the one I once committed to, a man of integrity, I would hope he wouldn’t say anything like that.”

* Al.com has posted video of both Newton’s and Chizik’s pressers.

* Returning to the FoxSports.com report, the Rivals.com site AuburnSports.com is reporting that “two independent sources with detailed knowledge of the UF academic discipline system during the period in question have disputed the Evans story.”

According to AuburnSports.com’s sources, “no allegations of academic impropriety regarding Cam Newton were sent to the Florida Student Conduct Committee at any time either during or after Newton’s time at UF.”

Here’s the problem with this: Any source talking about Newton’s academic history at Florida is dancing on a razor’s edge.  That goes for FoxSports.com’s source and the two sources of AuburnSports.com. 

Federal privacy laws prevent students’ academic records from being leaked to the press.  If this includes — and it’s likely that it would — possible claims of academic fraud, then someone could be facing some very serious legal charges. 

The fact that Auburn has reacted so strongly to this latest smear tactic should cause FoxSports’ Evans and his source to pucker up a bit.  If someone’s lawyer wants to push this there are legal avenues which can be followed.

One thing is certain, if any part of Newton’s academic history was released to Evans, it had to come from either a source at Florida or someone who was once at Florida during Newton’s time on that campus.

* If it’s found that either Meyer or Dan Mullen had anything to do with Newton’s alleged cheating scandal being brought to light, it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that that coach could lose his job.  Yes, skirting federal laws is that big a deal.

The coaches had best be hoping that rogue fans or someone on UF’s Student Conduct Committee acted on their own.

* I say “alleged” cheating scandal because AuburnSports.com does have two unnamed sources to refute FoxSports.com’s one unnamed source.

However, it’s likely that if Evans’ story was false, Newton would have screamed from his podium that the story was untrue.  He did not.  He simply chose not to talk about it. 

* One of the schools which keeps popping up in messageboard conversations regarding this scandal is Oklahoma.  But Sooners coach Bob Stoops said today that he saw nothing irregular in Newton’s recruitment.

He said that he “didn’t notice anything and none of our coaches did as we were recruiting him.”  Of course not.  What’s Stoops going to say one way or the other?

* Finally, Tony Barnhart writes for CBSSports.com today that when it comes to the Heisman race, Newton should not be punished for Reggie Bush’s sins.  Further, Barnhart writes:


“… last week I talked to people at Auburn with intimate knowledge of the situation.  They told me they were ‘extremely confident’ that Auburn, Newton and his father had not violated any rules.  These sources had no qualms about the Tigers continuing to play him.”


* Stay tuned.  There will be much more to come.  You can bank on that. 

And just to reiterate, I wouldn’t want to have been involved in leaking Newton’s academic history to FoxSports.com.  That source should be sweating bullets about now.

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Auburn AD Defends Newton

Amidst a growing smear campaign against his school’s quarterback, Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs has decided to speak out in defense of Cameron Newton.

In a statement released today Jacobs said:


“In the past 24 hours, a lot of allegations have surfaced that date back two years ago and further.  These allegations and rumors about Cam Newton are unfortunate and sad because they seem intent on tearing down the reputation of a young man who has done everything we’ve asked him to do.

“Cam has been and continues to be completely honest with us.  Cam is, by all accounts, a great kid.  Any discussion of academic records is a clear violation of federal privacy laws.  We will not go down that path or stoop to that level as others have apparently done.  We will, however, emphatically say that Cam is eligible to play football at Auburn University both academically and athletically.  I am proud of this young man and the progress has has made to be a better football player and a better man.  We are truly blessed that Cam is a part of the Auburn family, and we support him 100 percent.”


A tip of the hat to Jacobs.  There is a risk in backing someone so publicly as it’s impossible to know what shoe might drop next.  So the fact that Jacobs chose to defend AU’s quarterback so forcefully should tell everyone that the folks in Auburn’s administration feel pretty darn good about the character of Newton today.

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SEC: More Newton allegations; Tennessee hoops lose

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News And Views: SEC Week Ten

Each Monday, we kick off the week with a wrap-up of the previous weekend’s action.  Below are our MrSEC.com Hot List rankings — based on overall team strength, not just last Saturday’s results — as well as some bulletpoints for each squad.


Rising And Falling

1.  Les Miles reputation — rising (but give it time)
2.  Cameron Newton’s reputation — falling (even though he’s done nothing wrong)
3.  South Carolina’s stock — falling
4.  Arkansas running back Knile Davis — rising
5.  Vanderbilt’s program — falling
6.  Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray — rising
7.  SEC East — falling (just 2-14 in games against the SEC West)


The MrSEC Hot List

1.  Auburn –  Here’s what we know: a) The NCAA is looking into the recruitment of Cameron Newton.  b) Auburn officials are so confident nothing shady went on that they continue to play him.  c) Several pea-brained columnists and talk radio hosts called for Heisman voters not to vote for Newton.  Now maybe something comes of these rumors or maybe it doesn’t, but anyone who votes against the kid based on rumors is showing less integrity than Newton has to date.  Oh, and if the Tigers keep winning… they’ll play for the national title.  Almost forgot that.

2.  LSU –  Les Miles is getting universal praise today and he deserves it.  But how ’bout some applause for defensive coordinator John Chavis?  The Tigers’ offense has shown up in a couple of big games this year, but the LSU defense has kept the Tigers in the national title hunt all season.  Aside from a bad day against Cam Newton — and no one’s really had a good day against Newton yet — the Bayou Bengals have been dominant.  What a solid hire Chavis was two years ago.

3.  Alabama –  Nick Saban warned that each team has to develop its own chemistry and advance at its own pace.  This year’s Tide team should show us that’s true… as well as a couple of other things.  First, that it’s near impossible to win back-to-back national championships (as Florida learned last year).  Second, that the SEC doesn’t allow anyone to stay on top for long (no back-to-back champs since 1997-98).  Also, that one or two youthful mistakes in a single game can derail everything that pundits see “on paper” heading into a season.

4.  Arkansas –  The Razorbacks’ big win at South Carolina resurrects some fading goals in the Ozarks.  If the Hogs win out — and they’ve got UTEP, Mississippi State and LSU left on the schedule — Bobby Petrino’s team could finish with 10 wins in the regular season.  Do that and Arkansas could still land a BCS bid.  Saturday’s win in Columbia was absolutely huge.  And kudos to Knile Davis for his recent play.

5.  Florida –  It still doesn’t look like 2006 or 2008, but the Gators are at least showing signs of improvement.  They’ve scored 89 points the past two weeks and now get to host South Carolina for the East Division belt.  It might not have been pretty, but if the Gators best the Gamecocks they’ll be back in Atlanta for a third straight year.

6.  Mississippi State –  How will the Bulldogs respond to the death of Nick Bell?  With Alabama, Arkansas and Ole Miss still on the schedule, it’s likely Dan Mullen’s squad would have lost two out of three to close their season anyway.  But can they rally together in the face of tragedy… or will things take a turn for the worse?

7.  South Carolina –  Certain things happen each and every fall.  The leaves change colors.  My allergies get bad.  And South Carolina’s football team withers and falls like a dry, brown leaf.  The Gamecocks’ loss to Arkansas had all the markings of a team that wasn’t ready to play.  Now they’ve got a chance to play in their “biggest game ever” against Florida with Troy and Clemson waiting down the road.  Florida’s a toughie, but if Carolina loses to both Florida and mediocre Clemson, we’ll all know that The Chicken Curse still rolls on.

8.  Georgia — Fans aren’t happy.  Columnists aren’t helping.  And Auburn is waiting for the Bulldogs to come to The Plains this weekend.  It’s hard to imagine Georgia’s defense slowing Cam Newton, but Aaron Murray, AJ Green and company could put up some points of their own.  Remember, Auburn snuck past MSU, Clemson, Kentucky and LSU this year.  There’s no reason to think this one won’t be competitive.

9.  Kentucky –  The Wildcats are 5-5.  That’s not too far off from where most people projected before the season began.  Vanderbilt is up next.  With Vandy’s woes, it’s likely UK will lock up their 6th win before closing the season with traditional bully Tennessee.  If the Cats can snap Tennessee’s 1984-2009 winning streak, Joker Phillips will earn some applause.  (Maybe some?  Maybe?)

10.  Ole Miss –  It sounds like Jeremiah Masoli will play on Saturday and that’s good news for the Rebels.  Tennessee’s defense has been horrible against the pass.  UM still has something to play for, too.  With LSU and MSU after the Vols… a bowl bid is still a possibility for Houston Nutt’s squad.

11.  Tennessee –  The Vols can still go bowling, too, but it will require a four-game winning streak to close the season.  Win #1 came Saturday against a rancid Memphis team.  Freshman quarterback Tyler Bray is a gunslinger.  Last week he played pitch and catch and dissected Memphis’ secondary.  Can he be as carefree against Ole Miss without turning the ball over?  If so then you can bet all the folks on Rocky Top will have a new hero to focus on heading into 2011.

12.  Vanderbilt –  Vandy should try to invoke the mercy rule.  They’ve lost offensive players and defensive players.  They’ve lost starters… and backups to starters… and backups to backups.  They still have three more games to play — doesn’t it seem like they’ve already lost 14 games? — and they were pretty darn bad to begin with.  Pity Robbie Caldwell.  He’s going to get some nice money for his efforts as VU’s coach, but it’s got to feel like someone’s paying him to stand still while another person hits him over the head with a pipe.  Again and again.  And again.

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Newton Matter Not Closed At Auburn, But We Already Knew That

I love reports that really don’t report anything new… they just get someone saying on the record what we already knew.

Enter USA Today.  This morning they posted “news” that the investigation into Cameron Newton’s past is ongoing.  We’ve actually known since Friday that the NCAA is looking into the matter.  But Auburn AD Jay Jacobs confirmed that fact yesterday… which has led to the fresh headlines.

“It’s not a closed matter,” Jacobs said.  “It’s still ongoing.  … But we look for Cam to continue to play for us.”

So far, Auburn has found no issues with Newton’s eligibility.  As we wrote on Friday, the AU administration would not have OK’d Newton to play back in September if they believed their was a chance of him being declared ineligible.

“Any of our student-athletes, if we have any questions about them, about their eligibility,” Jacobs said, “We wouldn’t want them to play.”

The crystal clear point?  Newton is playing.

So while USA Today’s story might pop up in your Google news search as being “new,” it’s really just Jacobs going on the record with a fact that was already known — the NCAA is looking into the matter.  And so far they’ve found nothing… at least nothing that Auburn is aware of.

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Saban Talks LSU, Auburn

You don’t often hear Nick Saban talk about teams that lie more than a week ahead on Alabama’s schedule.  But yesterday — in discussing the Tide’s next opponent, LSU — he spoke a bit about the team that’s on pace to roll into the Iron Bowl undefeated at the end of the month.

Asked if his team could take anything away from Auburn’s impressive rushing performance against LSU’s defense, Saban said:

“It is a unique style that they have because (of Cameron Newton’s) runs and what they can do with the outstanding player that they have at that position.  That’s not conventional.  A couple of big plays really contributed to those numbers in terms of what they gave up.  From our standpoint, we discount it because that’s not really our style.

“We don’t have that kind of quarterback.  We don’t have that kind of offense.”

So Saban can’t simply copy what Auburn did against LSU two weeks ago.  And the day after Thanksgiving, he’ll have to prevent Auburn from doing unto him what it did unto LSU.

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Chain gang wants Cam Newton’s wristband

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Content provided by John Clay’s Sidelines.

Late in Auburn’s 51-31 win at Ole Miss on Saturday, a member of the Ole Miss chain gang, the people who hold the first down markers, asked Auburn quarterback Cameron Newton for a souvenir.

How long after the Heisman Trophy presentation does it show up on E-bay?

(Hat tip to @BW_Jones)

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Chain gang wants Cam Newton’s wristband

Kentucky
Content provided by John Clay’s Sidelines.

Late in Auburn’s 51-31 win at Ole Miss on Saturday, a member of the Ole Miss chain gang, the people who hold the first down markers, asked Auburn quarterback Cameron Newton for a souvenir.

How long after the Heisman Trophy presentation does it show up on E-bay?

(Hat tip to @BW_Jones)

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