Posted on: November 16, 2010 11:26 am

Chizik could be docked $60,000 per month

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Cam Newton brouhaha aside, this has been a dream season for Auburn and head coach Gene Chizik , who had to have only seen 11-0 starts and top-two BCS rankings in his wildest fantasies when he was trudging through his final 2-10 season at Iowa State .

Which might explain why Chizik agreed to contract terms that might be costing him , say, a new Lexus each month, according to a USA Today report:
Chizik's total compensation for this season was set at $2.25 million. With his team's record at 11-0, he is still in contention for his maximum of $1.3 million in athletically related bonuses. He also could get $150,000 based on the team's academic performance.

However, Auburn can suspend one or both of the nearly $60,000 payments it makes monthly to Chizik for personal endorsement rights and TV, radio and personal appearances "in the event an investigation is instituted by Auburn, the SEC or the NCAA into alleged major rules violations involving Coach and/or the football program," the contract says. Auburn senior associate AD Scott Carr, in an e-mail, declined to comment.
Learning that such a highly unusual clause (which punishes Chizik not for uncovered violations but merely for an investigation ) exists in Chizik's contract helps explain why the Tiger athletic department attempted to insert the same into new men's basketball coach Tony Barbee 's contract before Barbee and his lawyers objected. But learning that Chizik signed on anyway also emphasizes just how much Chizik was willing to sacrifice to make the leap from Ames to Auburn. (It may also emphasize that the Auburn athletic department, much criticized in some corners for playing Newton against Georgia, does take its compliance obligations seriously.)

The good news for Chizik is that at this stage, despite the "no comment" from Carr, he's probably still drawing that $60,000 per month; while the NCAA investigation into Newton's eligibility (or lack thereof) continues, no one has yet reported that Auburn itself, Chizik, or any of his staff has fallen under that investigation's scope.

Of course, with new twists and turns emerging in the Newton case seemingly by the day, Chizik might not want to include that money in his December

Posted on: November 15, 2010 12:11 pm

Auburn awaits word on its pugilists

Posted by Tom Fornelli

While Auburn was able to bounce back from an early deficit and overcome all the distractions of the previous week against Georgia on Saturday, things did get a bit chippy at the end of the game.  It all started with what many felt was a cheap shot by Auburn defensive tackle/eater of souls Nick Fairley on Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray.   A hit that now has Murray's status this weekend in question.   In the closing minutes, with the game already decided, there was plenty of pushing and shoving by both teams, but only two players threw punches.

Auburn's Mike Blanc and Michael Goggans were ejected on consecutive plays for throwing a punch, and the SEC rules are pretty clear about what happens when you do that.  Not only are you ejected from the current game, but you're forced to sit out the first half of your team's next game.  In Auburn's case, that would be the Iron Bowl against Alabama in two weeks, which is a pretty important one for the Tigers seeing as how they'd like to stay undefeated.

Well, it seems that Gene Chizik is holding out hope that he might have both of his players available, though he'll have to talk to the SEC about it first.

"I'm not going to really comment on that," Chizik said on Sunday. "We're going to talk to the SEC [Monday] and we're going to figure exactly what their status is at that point.

"The SEC reviews every situation, penalty-wise, that is reviewable or brought to their attention. We haven't talked with anybody. We know what happened [Saturday]. We're just going to reserve all comment until we really get some clarification on exactly what the status of those guys will be. I haven't had that opportunity yet."

Now it's possible that the Tigers could appeal the ruling, and have the punishment delayed, but I don't see how having either player suspended for the first half of the SEC Championship is any better.  Besides, I'm not sure what there is to appeal.  The rules are pretty clear, and there's video evidence of both players throwing the punches.
Posted on: November 15, 2010 9:35 am
Edited on: November 15, 2010 9:36 am

Richt: No word on Murray's knee

Posted by Chip Patterson

Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley has come under some heat from the media for some of his hits during Auburn's 49-31 win over Georgia on Saturday.  The topic became an issue particularly after a helmet first hit forced starting quarterback Aaron Murray out of the game with a knee injury.  Murray sat out the final five plays of the game, and was not available for the media because he was receiving medical attention.  Head coach Mark Richt did say in his postgame comments that Murray wanted to re-enter the game, and the quarterback tweeted after the game that the knee is "all good."  But when Richt held his Sunday evening teleconference with media members, he was none too interested in talking about injuries.

"I'm not going to talk about injuries in this conference," Richt said in the call. "I'm just going to hold off on that. I've got to get a clear picture from Ron. ... When I get with Ron, I'm sure we'll have a discussion and will have a better idea of what is going on in that regard."

Georgia has a much-needed off week before facing in-state rival Georgia Tech at home in the regular season finale on November 27.  At 5-6, the Bulldogs need the win in order to become bowl eligible for the 14th straight season.  A small consolation for an otherwise disappointing season in Athens.  Murray has exhibited great promise in his freshman season, throwing for 21 touchdowns and only six interceptions, and he did so without star wide receiver A.J. Green for the first four games.  In Murray the Bulldogs have a quarterback to build on for the future, so there is a bit of concern from the Georiga faithful.
Posted on: November 13, 2010 11:06 pm

What I learned from the SEC (Nov. 13)

Posted by Tom Fornelli

1. South Carolina and Auburn will battle for the SEC title in Atlanta. It's official, even though the game is three weeks away, we know that no matter what happens from here on out, South Carolina and Auburn are headed to Atlanta to square off for the SEC Championship.  It'll be the first time since 2004 that the game didn't feature Florida, Alabama or LSU.   Coincidentally, that's also the last time Auburn played in the game, beating Tennessee 38-28.

2. Sources tell me Cam Newton is still awesome.   Distractions?  What the hell is a distraction?  Cam Newton sure didn't play like a kid who spent the last week dealing with the media circus surrounding his NCAA investigation.  Newton finished the day with 299 total yards and four touchdowns during Auburn's 49-31 win over Georgia.

3. I worry about Marcus Lattimore's future. Listen, I totally understand why Steve Spurrier and South Carolina choose to ride Lattimore's back.  The kid is a beast, and he completely changes the Gamecocks offense.  Still, when I see him get 41 carries on Saturday night -- along with 38 against Georgia earlier this season -- I do worry that he'll be worn out by the end of his college career.  We've all seen in the past at places like Wisconsin what happens to running backs who carry the ball hundreds of times in their college career when they get to the NFL.  I just hope Lattimore doesn't suffer the same fate.

4. The Cam Newton Saga seemed to have a bigger effect on Mississippi State.
  Newton played like Cam Newton against Georgia, but Mississippi State played like a team that should have coughed up the dough on Saturday night.  Sure, Alabama -- a ticked off Alabama team at that -- had a lot to do with it, but the Bulldogs didn't look very good in their 30-10 loss.

5. Tennessee has its quarterback. Who would have thought back in September or early October that Tennessee would have a chance to go bowling this season?  I certainly didn't, but thanks to the continued rise of Tyler Bray and his back tattoo, the Vols have played incredibly well the last few weeks.  Bray threw for 323 yards and 3 touchdowns as Tennessee destroyed Ole Miss 52-14.  Now, if the Vols can manage to win their last two games against Vanderbilt and Kentucky -- which isn't all that crazy -- they'll finish the season 6-6 and be bowl eligible.

6. Florida's offense is still terrible.
  Listen, you may have been fooled by seeing Florida score 41 points against Vanderbilt last week, and some pollsters might have been as well, but I wasn't.  An offense that has struggled all season did so again on Saturday night, managing a paltry 226 yards and 14 points against a Gamecocks defense that gave up 24 points to Tennessee, and 31 to Kentucky.  If Steve Addazzio survives this season, then somebody is going to burn Gainesville to the ground.
Posted on: November 13, 2010 7:56 pm

Auburn, Chizik off to Atlanta after win

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Not many fans outside of Auburn will be pleased with it after the week's Cam Newton revelations and some ugly scenes at the end of tonight's win over Georgia , but that also won't make any difference after the Tigers' 49-31 victory moved them to a perfect 7-0 in the SEC and clinched the West division title. Auburn will play in the SEC championship game for the first time since 2004 and for just the third time since the SEC's divisional split in 1992.

Though a national title game could still be on the horizon pending the SEC title tilt and an even-tricker-looking visit to Alabama , the West championship is already a huge vindication for Gene Chizik , whose hire was derided in virtually every corner after his 5-19 record at Iowa State . With two games still to play, he's a perfectly palindromical 19-5 in his two seasons at the Auburn helm, and whether or not the Newton scandal forces him to vacate those victories, it's hard to argue he hasn't brought the team a steady, calming influence that's allowed them to make three comebacks from double-digit deficits this season.

Today was the third, with the Bulldogs jumping out to a 21-7 lead before the inexorable march of Auburn's ground-pounding offense wore down Georgia's defense as the game. The Tigers finished with 315 rushing yards, their sixth straight SEC game with 300 or more yards on the ground. Newton finished with 151 yards and two rushing touchdowns (to go with 148 and 3 scores in the air), Onterio McCalebb 71 and three scores, and Michael Dyer 60. Georgia scored 10 points on their first two drives of the second half, on expertly-guided drives of 81 and 66 yards by Aaron Murray ... but it didn't make much difference when Auburn's final five possessions of the game all ended in touchdowns.

The game ended on a sour note as a pair of Bulldog offensive lineman took exception to a hit by Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley on Murray which forced him off the field, dogpiling on Fairley after the following play. The resulting fracas resulted in the ejection of backup defensive end Michael Goggans , and after the next play, a punch saw backup defensive tackle Mike Blanc dismissed as well. Both will reported miss the first half of the Alabama game, and though neither starts, both see major time in Auburn's usual defensive line rotation.

Neither that nor the Newton scandal will do much to dull the celebrations in Auburn tonight, though. The coach who would supposedly never get Auburn to the top of their division did it in just two years. Until/unless the NCAA says otherwise, that's more than enough reason to break out the party hats.

Posted on: November 13, 2010 5:39 pm

Newton, Green dominating as defense optional

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Once the great question in college football this week had been answered -- yes, Cam Newton is going to play for Auburn until or unless the NCAA investigation turns up something new -- the showdown between Auburn and Georgia has played out exactly the way you might expect.

Way the first: neither team is playing a lot of defense. The game is tied at 21 points apiece and both teams have already topped 200 total yards. The Tigers have hit 240, but the ever-torchable Auburn secondary has been torched for 137 yards on just 12 Aaron Murray pass attempts. A.J. Green has topped 100 yards already and collected a pair of touchdowns, including this 40-yard bomb:

Way the second: Cam Newton has played with a focus unusual even for him, hitting 9 of his 11 passes for 111 yards and a touchdown. (An interception should properly be attributed to a butterfingered drop from Emory Blake .) He's also accounted for 90 rushing yards on 15 carries with a touchdown on the ground as well. If Newton winds up denied the Heisman, it won't be for any lack of production on the field.

Way the third: The game is razor-close, with both teams trading long drives and big plays and of course each scoring three touchdowns for the 21-21 tie.

Auburn has been so much of a second-half team, particularly at home, that they may have an on-paper edge as the third quarter begins. But with players like Green and Newton on the field, anything could happen.
Posted on: November 13, 2010 2:57 pm

Cam Newton almost certainly playing

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

If you dropped out of a spaceship (let's be specific: a spaceship without the Internet) into Auburn 's final preparations for today's Georgia game, you apparently wouldn't even know there was anything unusual going on with Cam Newton . Newton went through Auburn's traditional pregame Tiger Walk to the stadium, went through preliminary warmups with quarterbacks coach Gus Malzahn , spent some time firing up the student-section early arrivals, and as our own Dennis Dodd has tweeted, is wearing his full usual gameday outfit:

Considering that ineligible players don't even practice with their teammates, much less take the field only minutes before kickoff, it looks like the world's surest bet that Newton will be playing this afternoon.
Category: NCAAF
Posted on: November 13, 2010 12:22 pm

Game day weather updates, Week 11

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Here's the weather outlook for all of today's important matchups. It's definitely fall these days, and the wind will be whipping across the heartland. All times are Eastern.

Noon kickoffs

No. 13 Iowa at Northwestern , 12:00, Evanston, IL: Mid 50s, scattered showers

Indiana at No. 6 Wisconsin , 12:00, Madison, WI: Low 50s, scattered showers

Kansas State at No. 20 Missouri , 12:30, Columbia, MO: Mid 40s, cloudy, windy

Afternoon kickoffs

No. 15 Utah at Notre Dame, 2:30 , South Bend, IN: Low 60s, scattered thunderstorms

No. 16 Virginia Tech at North Carolina , 3:30, Chapel Hill, NC: Mid 60s, clear

Penn State at No. 8 Ohio State , 3:30, Columbus, OH: Upper 60s, partly cloudy

Georgia at No. 2 Auburn , 3:30, Auburn, AL: Low 70s, clear

Texas Tech at No. 19 Oklahoma , 3:30, Norman, OK: Mid 50s, partly cloudy, windy

San Diego State at No. 3 TCU , 4:00, Ft. Worth, TX: Mid 50s, partly cloudy, windy

Evening kickoffs

No. 23 Texas A&M at Baylor , 7:00, Waco, TX: Upper 40s, clear, breezy

No. 22 South Carolina at No. 24 Florida , 7:15, Gainesville, FL: Upper 50s, clear

No. 17 Mississippi State at No. 11 Alabama , 7:15, Tuscaloosa, AL: Upper 50s, scattered showers

USC at No. 18 Arizona , 8:00, Tucson, AZ: Upper 60s, clear

Late night kickoffs

No. 21 Nevada at Fresno State , 10:15, Fresno, CA: Mid 50s, clear, breezy

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com