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Phillip's blog: Possible outcomes

It is unfortunate that a cloud of uncertainty continues to hover over Auburn's football team as it drives on toward playing for a championship. But it's there and will be there until the NCAA renders a verdict on the status of quarterback Cam Newton.

Phillip Marshall, Senior Editor,

If you're reading this, you probably know the story, so I won't go into many details. Nor will I get into the mountain of misinformation that that has surrounded this situation for almost two weeks.

We know now that Cecil Newton, Cam's father, has admitted talking about money with Mississippi State last December, that he says neither Cam nor even his wife knew anything about it and that, in the end, he took nothing. And we know the NCAA is looking into the matter.

It is highly unlikely there will be any kind of institutional difficulty for Auburn. There is not and has not been any evidence that Auburn did anything wrong in its recruitment of Cam Newton.

Things could change, of course, if new and verifiable information turns up that implicates Auburn or Cam Newton. But there seems to be little likelihood of that happening. You also have to take into account that the NCAA can be unpredictable.

Regardless, I believe there are three possible outcomes to his saga. Here they are, with my opinion of what the odds are of each:

1. The NCAA decides Cam Newton knew nothing about what happened and he is cleared to finish his career at Auburn. Probability: 70 percent.

2. The NCAA decides Cam Newton should immediately be declared ineligible, either based on his father's actions or because it decides he did know something about what was going on. He is barred from playing further but Auburn keeps the 11 wins in which he participated. Probability: 20 percent.

3. The NCAA decides Cam Newton should be retroactively ineligible and vacates Auburn's 11 wins. Probability: 10 percent.

Again, that is my reading of the situation and mine alone. Take it for what it's worth.

Moving on ...

Yet another coordinator just can't bring himself to admit that his defense was dominated by Gus Malzahn's Auburn offense. Even breaking the 300-yard rushing mark in six consecutive SEC games apparently isn't convincing.

And watching Auburn score four touchdowns on four possessions in the second half while throwing just four passes wasn't enough for Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham.

"It basically got down to gadget plays," Grantham said. "... I thought we settled down and played their basic runs pretty much OK. The biggest issue in the second half was what I call gadget plays. They ran basically two reverses for big gains in the second half. You've got to be able to defend all kinds of runs."

I guess I'm not that smart. I didn't know a reverse was a "gadget play." ...

Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley is taking a lot of heat, even being called a dirty player. No doubt, the hit on quarterback Aaron Murray for which he was penalized for roughing the passer was late and hard. I don't defend that. It also wasn't very smart, because it kept alive a drive that led to a Georgia field goal in the third quarter.

However, Saturday's game had a lot more than that. Fairley was chop blocked at least once. There were other late hits, too much trash talk. Both teams contributed. It was a volatile mix that finally boiled over after the game was decided, bringing back memories of Auburn-Georgia games of years gone by.

As a result Mike Blanc and Michael Goggans will have to sit out the first half of the Iron Bowl. And that's their fault because they lost their poise. Several Georgia players came off the bench looking to fight. They should have been held accountable, too. Maybe they will be.

As for Fairly, he is a very tough, very physical player. A dirty player? Nah. ...

Until next time. ...

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