AUBURN, Ala. -- The man of the moment wasn't talking. Auburn officials announced as much on Saturday night soon after Cam Newton showed he was so worried about the swirling mess around him that he smiled and skipped his way across various parts of the field at Jordan-Hare Stadium after he single-handedly crushed Georgia.
In fact, with Auburn's 49-31 whipping of its oldest SEC foe nearly an hour completed, Newton returned before an empty set of stands to play catch on the field with a bunch of kids.
Oh, and Newton was a grinning fool during the half-mile Tiger Walk that his teammates take to the stadium before games with much of Lee County on both sides of the path. He also led Auburn out of the tunnel before the opening kickoff by sprinting with arms waving to turn the place into a orange-flavored house of noise.
Then, when Newton finished rushing for 151 yards and two touchdowns to complement his prolific passing day (12-of-15 for 148 yards and two touchdowns), he chest-bumped Auburn's Tiger mascot, and he ran into the stands. There, he slapped hands with everybody he could find, and he led the band, and he continued as the happiest person on earth.
The guy doesn't sound, look or act guilty to me.
That's because he isn't. Well, not beyond the stolen computer thing that was resolved before he left Florida's campus.
Who knows about those reports that he cheated in several classes when he was a Gator? Who even cares beyond those at Florida who probably leaked it? And if his father, Cecil, solicited all of that cash during the recruitment of his son before coming to Auburn, where's the smoking gun?
Where's even the gun?
And, no, it doesn't matter that Auburn coach Gene Chizik helped fuel conspiracy theories Saturday night by refusing to discuss the man of the moment beyond giving a couple of short answers to Cam-related questions out of 19 in general. Newton's teammates were mostly mum, too, but there was linebacker Josh Bynes who drifted away from his coach's clumsy gag order before catching himself.
"We've stuck by Cam from Day 1, and that's not going to change," said Bynes, strongly and defiantly. "Somebody asked me during the week, 'What has changed since y'all have faced all of these distractions?' Ain't nothing changed. We let everybody else do the talking, and we just went out there and did our business on the football field.
"We're letting the media and everybody else do all the talking they want, and we're just going to go out there and handle our business."
They did, and courtesy of an 11-0 record (7-0 in the SEC), they're in the conference championship. They also are two more victories shy of reaching the national championship game, but as strange at it sounds, that's secondary to this Newton stuff.
OK, let's be honest. Just a few folks really know whether Cecil Newton really tried to sell his son like a gallon of that famous lemonade in town at Toomer's Drug Store, and Cam Newton isn't one of them. He is innocent of NCAA rule violations, because he hasn't been proven guilty by anybody of anything, and he won't be, either.
Just a guess.
That's all anybody has these days.
Here we are in Day 11 of the college football world being held hostage by rumors surrounding the Newton family, but the Newton bashing continues, and we still don't know truth from fiction, which is why I suggest the following to everybody: stifle, please.
Consider, too, that either Auburn officials were clueless by allowing Newton to start against Georgia, or they were convinced that neither their passing, throwing and winning machine of 6-foot-6 and 250-pounds nor his father did something worthy of putting the Tigers in the NCAA slammer.
They weren't clueless, which brings me back to that guess. I mean, no way Auburn officials risk something shy of the death penalty with Newton, unless they were told by the NCAA not to worry.
They likely were told by the NCAA before they decided to bring Newton to Auburn this season. At the very least, they likely were told as recently as Thursday, when word leaked about a meeting between the Newtons and some combination of the NCAA and Auburn officials.
Was there such a meeting? Are Auburn officials confident Newton won't be declared ineligible at some point?
Is anybody home?
"Like I said, he's a really, really talented, extremely gifted football player, and he means a lot to our football team," said Chizik afterward, giving his version of name, rank and serial number. "Again, I'm only going to answer questions more along the lines of pertaining to the game. By (Newton's) performance, I felt like he's done just about what he's done in every other game this year."
In other words, Newton can play, but that was obvious even before he spent the Georgia game becoming the only guy in SEC history to pass for more than 2,000 yards and to run for more than 1,000 in the same season, and this was the conference of Tim Tebow.
It's just that the first of the many questions on Saturday was that, given the slew of rumors wrapped in innuendo and covered with hearsay, would Newton even play against Georgia?
He did, of course, and he inspired, alternating between quarterback and cheerleader while flashing his considerable skills that will make him an NFL team's dream sooner than later.
There is Newton's college nightmare, though. Thus some of those other questions: Will the brilliance of his arm and legs matter for Auburn in the long run? Will something eventually come out to hinder Newton from receiving the Heisman Trophy that he deserves? Will Auburn go from national championship contender to another almost team like it was in 2004 when it went undefeated without reaching the title game?
All that the Tiger Nation cared about on Saturday was hugging Newton while threatening never to let go.
For more nearly 50 years, they've done those Tiger Walks, but they've rarely had any like this one. There were thousands -- make that THOUSANDS -- of folks packing the way, including those who literally were forced to watch from trees as Newton passed by in single file with the rest of the Auburn players and coaches.
There were all of those Newton-related signs in Auburn orange and blue inside and outside the stadium.
"You can't defy Newton's Law."
"I stand with Cam."
"The only thing Cam stole was my heart."
"Our Cam-pus is clean."
To which, Newton responded with more of his phenomenal season and that eternal smile that says, "Whatever, dude."
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