3:40 p.m.: Final thoughts
We're a few minutes from kickoff. There was a jet flyover at the end of the national anthem, which in my view is still one of the coolest things ever.
OK, so with Newton playing, here's what you need to remember about the storylines we'll be fed once it's over:
- If Georgia wins, it's because of all the Newton stuff distracting the Auburn quarterback and his teammates.
- If Auburn wins, it's because all the Newton stuff fired up the Auburn quarterback and his teammates.
Got it? Okay, here we go.
3:15 p.m.: Thirty minutes from lift-off
The perceived big drama for the day - whether Cameron Newton would play - has been removed. Newton was introduced as a starter, resulting in a prolonged, loud cheer from the fans inside Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Now Georgia hopes there's more drama to come, the kind that would have BCS implications. To that end, a few Georgia pregame personnel notes:
- Kwame Geathers (ankle), Logan Gray (jaw) and Kris Durham (bruised lung) all made the trip.
- Durham was announced as a starter at receiver, ahead of Tavarres King. I'm not sure that qualifies as huge news, especially since both would start in a three-receiver set. And against this Auburn secondary, here's better you'll see mostly three-receiver sets, with a few four-receivers too.
2:50 p.m.: Newton set to start, Georgia is here too
As we type this, Cam Newton is in full uniform and warming up with his teammates. So we have to proceed under the full assumption that the Auburn star is playing.
So Auburn appears to be all-in with its quarterback, gambling that it won't come back to bite the Tigers. Maybe it's not a big gamble. We'll see.
As for the Bulldogs, they're on the field warming up too. Just thought I'd remind you of that.
1:50 p.m.: Cam Newton makes the Tiger Walk
In the latest sign that Cameron Newton will indeed play, he participated in Auburn's pregame walk into the stadium, along with his teammates and coaches.
Newton's appearance on the TV screen and his entrance into the stadium brought loud cheers from the student section.
Auburn still hasn't officially said Newton will play. Then again, it has never said his status for this game was in doubt, only switching Friday to a no-comment mode.
CBS sideline reporter Tracy Wolfson did report that head coach Gene Chizik canceled his normal pregame interview with her. Chizik will speak briefly to Wolfson just before kickoff.
12:50 p.m. eastern
Greetings from the eye of the national storm, otherwise known as Jordan-Hare Stadium on this fine Saturday in November.
There were a lot of Auburn No. 2 jerseys being worn outside the stadium, and the expectation is there will be another on the field at 3:30 p.m. We haven't gotten any on-the-record confirmation from Auburn, but as soon as something is known we'll pass it along.
Here's what we do know:
- WSB-TV in Atlanta is quoting a source saying Cecil Newton is admitting that he discussed pay-for-play with Mississippi State (which has said it wasn't interested). But Newton says, according to the source, his son didn't know about it, and Auburn is in the clear too.
My one quibble with the story: It isn't said who exactly Newton was saying this to, only a source, whom the WSB reporter said was sympathetic to the Newtons.
- Yahoo.com reported yesterday that the NCAA had notified Auburn of a potential violation, so the risk was on Auburn whether to play Newton. The New York Times reported late on Thursday that if a team plays a player knowing there is an eligibility issue, there is an increased risk of harsher reactions.
- So that's all the backdrop. One of the key questions for me is whether Auburn has been handed any information within the past week that would make it decide Newton has to be held out. It has already played Newton for 10 games, so at this point it's all in with the player, unless it feels there is something new this week that would impact not only Newton, but Auburn, as far as NCAA issues.
It's a very thorny, and very new issue. I've already spied a bunch of national media types here in the press box, so there's a lot of interest in what happens.
Again, the expectation is Newton will play, based mainly on the fact that he accompanied his team to the hotel on Friday night. (For comparison purposes, when A.J. Green was held out of Georgia's season opener, he did not spend the night with the team at the hotel. The decision was made by Georgia to sit Green out a few days before game day, when it was finally announced.)
Saturday, November 13, 2010
3:40 p.m.: Final thoughts