Gene Chizik quiet about QB Cam Newton
However, the coach of the second-ranked Tigers said Sunday he plans to maintain his silence on the off-the-field issues facing the Heisman favorite.
"I'll take questions today based on any question that has to do with Cameron in the game last night," he said Sunday. "Otherwise, I have the same stance."
Which recently has been no comment. Fans aren't adopting that policy.
Allegations that Newton's father, Cecil, sought money from Mississippi State during the recruiting process have left some jittery that the exuberance might not last.
Earl Lambert, a 1972 Auburn graduate, said he does fear that wins might be forfeited or vacated.
"I am absolutely worried," Lambert said. "I think there are some sinister forces working in the background and this would ruin such a magical season."
Some fans are remembering 2004. The Tigers were undefeated but were shut out of the BCS championship game. The previous perfect season came in 1993, but NCAA sanctions meant the Tigers weren't eligible for titles or the postseason.
"I think anybody would admit that any distraction or detraction from the kind of year that we've had is unfortunate," said Sean Snow, an Auburn native and 1992 graduate, as he carried garbage to a dumpster near his RV. "And 2004 looms large in, I think, all Auburn fans' minds."
Newton and the Tigers (11-0) shoved aside distractions and a cloudy NCAA situation in clinching their first SEC Western Division title in six years with Saturday's come-from-behind, 49-31 win over Georgia. Now, they get their first week off before facing Alabama (No. 11 BCS, No. 10 AP) on the Friday after Thanksgiving.
The Tigers seem virtually assured of a chance to play for the BCS championship if they beat Alabama and then No. 17 South Carolina in the SEC championship game on Dec. 4.
It's more time for the Newton saga to simmer, or boil over.
As for Auburn, the Tigers have gone into a defensive mode off the field.
Newton didn't talk to the media after the game, Chizik hasn't discussed the situation publicly since his emotional defense after a report Tuesday involving alleged academic cheating when the player was at Florida.
Now Auburn has hired consultant Gene Marsh, a former chairman of the NCAA infractions committee, to help present its case. The retired University of Alabama law professor has worked on such cases as the recent Michigan football investigation. Marsh also had no comment on the situation Sunday.
Because fans don't know who or what to believe, many are just enjoying the ride.
"Until there's some proof of some kind out there, I'm going to celebrate it just like Cam's celebrating it and just like the Tigers are celebrating it," said Snow, the 1992 graduate. "It's 11-0 and it's a great accomplishment. We're going to celebrate it until we have reason not to."
Newton's latest performance did nothing to hinder his Heisman candidacy, though some voters have said the hint of a scandal might drop him from their ballot. He accounted for four touchdowns and was responsible for all 10 non-penalty third-down conversions, becoming the first SEC player to pass for 2,000 yards and rush for 1,000 in a season.
"He made some really incredible throws," Chizik said.
Students believe Newton can do no wrong on the field.
"Cam is huge to us," senior Jake Blackstock said. "Auburn's always been kind of real straightforward and no pizazz, and Cam brings a lot of energy to it. We've always had energy but it's not a visible kind of display like it is now."
There are legions of Newton supporters at Auburn who just want to believe things are going to work out.
"We're jacked out of our minds," said fan Warren Field, whose son Blake was a quarterback on that 2004 team. "What do you think?"
The Thomasville, Ga., resident was sporting a "Camzilla" T-shirt.
There are even some Newton supporters who believe the allegations are part of a conspiracy to undermine his success -- including his high school basketball coach, Darron Rogers.
"I just think it's a lot of hate going on, and I think that Cameron and his parents are innocent," said Rogers, who is friendly with Cecil Newton. "It's just a lot of people who don't want him to win and are trying to throw dirt on one of the greatest football seasons in the history of the NCAA."
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press
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