Cam Newton starts despite allegations
AUBURN, Ala. -- The Auburn Tigers can clinch a spot in the SEC championship game with a win over Georgia on Saturday, and they have their best player running the offense.
Auburn quarterback Cam Newton, the Heisman Award candidate caught in a whirlwind of controversy this week after allegations of pay-for-play demands surfaced, started for the No. 2 Tigers as they hosted the Bulldogs.
Newton juked a bit as the drum corps began the fight song at Jordan-Hare Stadium, going through several option pitches and throwing 25-yard passes during warmups before public address announcer Ric Smith revealed he would play.
Auburn coach Gene Chizik had stated this week that Newton would start amid accusations that Newton's father, Cecil, had asked for anywhere from $100,000 to $180,000 for his son to sign a letter of intent with Mississippi State during his recruitment to that school.
Cam Newton has denied any wrongdoing, and Auburn fans gave him a huge cheer when he was announced as the starter. It was clear he'd be playing when he trotted on the field wearing his familiar No. 2 and worked out with the offense an hour before the kickoff.
Mississippi State athletic director Scott Stricklin acknowledged in a statement Friday that the school "was approached with an offer to provide an extra benefit" and that the school refused.
But Auburn (10-0) contended this week that Newton is an "eligible student-athlete" despite policies that bar such recruitment activity.