AUBURN - As quarterback Cam Newton walked up the steps at the Auburn Football Complex, the cheers went up. Smiling broadly, Newton walked through the people calling his name and climbed on the bus.
Crowd awaits players' arrival Friday night/Todd Van Emst photo
The lingering question of so many was answered,. Newton will start at quarterback Saturday when No. 2 Auburn (10-0, 6-0) plays Georgia (5-5, 3-4) in the 114th renewal of the Deep South's longest running series.
Newton joined his teammates for the trip to the Montgomery hotel that is pregame headquarters for Auburn's football team. They'll return Saturday for the Tiger Walk and then on to the stadium for a game of great significance.
For the past eight days, Newton has been at the center of a raging controversy since reports surfaced of accusations that his father, Cecil, had sought money to deliver him to Mississippi State last December.
After former Mississippi State player Kenny Rogers went public Thursday with claims that he helped facilitate the request, questions blew up about whether Newton would be allowed to play against the Bulldogs.
There were reports early Friday that Newton would be ineligible. Then there were reports that Auburn had been advised by the NCAA not to play him. Both were wrong.
On message boards and social media, there were calls for a "reverse Tiger Walk." And a large crowd answered.
"Man, this is something," wide receivers coach Trooper Taylor said. "It's exciting, the oldest series in the South. This is great for these kids."
Normally, Tigerettes and Tiger Hosts are on hand to see the players off to Montgomery but few others. Friday, they began arriving more than an hour before the scheduled time of departure.
One group of players after another walked through to the cheers of the crowd. Then came Newton, and the loudest roar of all.
Video by Bryan Matthews