Well, this certainly isn’t your typical Georgia-Auburn week, is it?
This rivalry always has produced story lines, but this is ridiculous.
You’ve got mediocre Georgia against undefeated Auburn. The Bulldogs are trying to become eligible for a bowl, while Auburn is hoping for a spot in the BCS championship game.
And then there is the spotlight on Auburn’s quarterback, Cam Newton.
Georgia fans probably have prayed for a month that something would happen that would knock Newton out of this game. But even with all the scandals, that’s just not going to happen. Auburn has gone this far with Newton, so why sit him now before the two biggest rivalry games?
It’s becoming clear that Newton may not be Tim Tebow — at least off the field. There was the laptop incident at Florida, and now there are several cheating accusations.
Heck, he would have fit in at Georgia with all of those parking violations.
Some are saying all these reports are a witch hunt, and if not for Newton’s success the accusations wouldn’t be coming out.
Well, Newton didn’t arrive at Auburn with a sterling reputation. And then, when it came out in Sports Illustrated a few weeks ago that it was his father that decided where Cam would transfer, that was enough to raise a few eyebrows.
Cam said he wished he were still at Florida, and then he said he wanted to go to Mississippi State. But it was his dad that told him to go to Auburn.
Hmmm. Yeah, that’s enough to get journalists to do some digging.
It’s not a character assassination or a smear campaign. It is what it is.
Newton has done some things in the past that should make you question his character. That’s not an assassination, but self-inflicted wounds that he must heal.
Maybe he has been a model citizen since he has been at Auburn. That’s good if true, but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t know what has happened and what has him at Auburn now.
You have to hope that no one at Auburn or anyone connected with the program was dumb enough to fall for Kenny Rogers wanting $200,000 for Newton to sign. If they were, they should just go ahead and drop football. That would be the dumbest thing to ever happen — to just blatantly pay for someone to go to a school to play.
We all know it probably has happened somewhere — maybe at every program in the Southeast. Wayward supporters and alumni are hard to track. Programs do the best they can to monitor those people, but how can they know what everyone is doing behind closed doors?
Who knows whether someone went to Newton’s dad’s church and dropped a wad of cash in the basket? The church in Newnan got renovated somehow.
As for the game itself, Georgia will have its hands full. Despite being second in the SEC in rushing defense, the Bulldogs have struggled at times. South Carolina’s Marcus Lattimore ran all over them. And Florida got its running game well against the Bulldogs a few weeks ago in Jacksonville.
Georgia defensive starters Justin Houston and Brandon Boykin played against Newton in high school. So they know all about his athleticism and talent.
“You have to hit him,” Houston said. “You can’t just go out and just try to arm tackle him. He’s not going down in an arm tackle. You got to actually hit that guy.”
Boykin added, “You’ve just got to wrap up. He’s a big guy, and a little shot to the leg is probably not going to bring him down. You got to get 11 guys to the ball and make sure he goes down.”
The Bulldogs haven’t done well at tackling this season. But if they are to have a shot Saturday, they must be fundamentally perfect in that area. If not, Newton, who probably really wants to play well to quiet all the controversies, will run wild — just as he has done all year long.
Listen to “The Bill Shanks Show” from 3-6 p.m. every weekday afternoon online at www.foxsports1670.com.