Why more Cam Newton stuff? Well, it beats the hell out of talking about losing to Les Miles and fretting about losing at home to Mississippi State, doesn't it?
Regardless, first and foremost we should dismiss all of the earlier rumors generated by the supposed Ian Fitzsimmons report that Newton would be declared ineligible in a matter of hours. As it turns out, per Clay Travis, Fitzsimmons merely said something big could happen in three or four hours, and someone else took that and ran with it in a different light. And honestly, even if that had not happened, Fitzsimmons is not exactly the most reputable source in the first place. If you will remember from back in January, he was the one who reported on the day of the BCS National Championship Game that Kirby Smart would interview for the Texas Tech head coaching job, and we all saw how that turned out.
Having refuted that, the latest from Gene Chizik himself explicitly denies any talk of Newton missing this weekend's game against Georgia. He opened his press conference today with the following line:
"I want to get off the table, up front, the fact that Cameron Newton will be playing Saturday against the Georgia Bulldogs
So, as of right now anyway, the plan still seems to be for Auburn to play Newton this weekend, or at least that's still the official line at this point.
Having said that, though, the tone has changed quite a bit for Auburn today. Immediately after making that statement Chizik refused to make any more comments regarding Newton
, a distinctly different timbre from 24 hours ago when Opelika was about to blow through the top with talk of "garbage" and "character assassination."
In all honesty, I doubt the latest claim that Newton will play means much of anything. Even if Auburn does sit Newton this weekend, why come out and do it mid-week as long as you feel there are any possible grounds whatsoever that may allow him to play? The last thing Auburn would want to do now is sit the guy in the middle of opponent preparations, and then have something happen later in the week that lets you think he could play, only to realize he's probably unprepared and you get beat as a result of that. Sure you lose a bit by taking reps away from the back-up, but realistically if Newton gets yanked this weekend then the least of their problems short-term or long-term involve lack of reps for the back-up, so that's likely a moot point. If Newton does not play this weekend, I imagine Auburn will wait it out to the very end and sit him hours before kick-off against Georgia. Again, I see little incentive as to why you would make that particular move mid-week, so I wouldn't read much into that one way or the other.
Moving on to something else, the report last night from Joe Schad
identified "two sources who recruit at Mississippi State" as the source of the latest Newton allegations, and that led to the inevitable question, "Exactly what constitutes a 'recruiter?'" Does that mean an assistant coach or a head coach, or could that include some random support staff personnel in the athletic department?
In an effort to find out more regarding what constitutes "recruiters," in his morning press conference, Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen fielded the following question from Brandon Marcello of the Clarion Ledger
Brandon Marcello: Is there anyone besides assistant coaches who are registered as "recruiters" by the NCAA?
Dan Mullen: "No."
How fun? It would seem that the unidentified sources in the Joe Schad report are likely Mississippi State football coaches. Again, as I said on Twitter, every one of those 101,821 fans in Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday better give Mullen and company a standing ovation for this one.
Meanwhile, regardless of the continued claims by Auburn that Newton will play this weekend, the boys in Vegas seem mighty nervous about that proposition. The Las Vegas Hilton, Stations, MGM Mirage, Leroy's
, and BoDog
have all pulled the game from their books. BetUS
is also not listing the game at the moment. Official denials of wrongdoing be damned, the people who put their money where their mouth is are apparently far from convinced.