Richt, staff preparing for QB
By SETH EMERSON
ATHENS, Ga. — Georgia coach Mark Richt has already spent a lot of this week praising the on-field talents of Cameron Newton, the player he still expects to be playing quarterback for Auburn on Saturday.
On Wednesday, Richt added his thoughts on the media frenzy facing Newton.
“There’s nothing that’s been proven, that’s been done, that’s been inappropriate in any way,” Richt said. “But it’s just amazing the amount of noise there is around it.”
Since last week, when ESPN.com reported that the NCAA was investigating Newton’s recruitment, the Heisman Trophy frontrunner has become the big story in college football. And Georgia is walking into the middle of it Saturday.
Earlier in the day, Richt said he and his staff had not kept up with the situation, worried it could end up being a distraction. But evidently, it was impossible for even Richt to avoid the Newton saga.
“That’s the thing about it, whether somebody does it or not, there’s just a lot of attention put on things that are accusations that may or may not be true,” Richt said. “I’m not even talking about this one in particular. Someone gets accused of something, and it’s like a bomb goes off. Whether or not it’s true, and I don’t know if some people care if it’s true or not, they’re going to sensationalize it, and make a bit deal of it.”
Georgia went through a similar circumstance a couple of months ago, when A.J. Green was suspended four games for selling his jersey for $1,000. Given the harshness of that penalty, Richt was asked if he felt it would be unfair to be playing against a quarterback with a pending investigation over something more serious.
“I think anybody is innocent, unless there’s some proof that they’re guilty,” Richt said. “So that’s America. That’s how we’re trying to operate. That’s the way we should operate.”
And no, Richt doesn’t know anything about Auburn’s backup quarterback.
“I don’t think anybody on this staff feels like Cam won’t be at the game,” Richt said.
Georgia senior defensive lineman Kiante Tripp was a teammate of Newton’s at Westlake High School. Tripp said he hasn’t spoken to Newton in some time, but expects the quarterback is handling the media swirl.
“I’m quite sure he’s focused on the game,” Tripp said. “I don’t think he knows exactly what’s going on. He’s a football player. I’ve known him, since high school; he’s just focused on the game.”
Newton’s father, Cecil, is also at the center of the allegations. ESPN.com has reported that Newton’s father told Mississippi State coaches it would take more than a scholarship for him to sign with the school. Tripp remembered Cecil Newton as being heavily involved in his son’s activities at Westlake.
“His dad was always around. School, practice, his dad is there, yeah,” Tripp said. “That’s his biggest fan. I mean, that’s just something that’s just known. If you see Cameron, you’re going to see his dad.”