Wed Nov 10 12:22pm EST
Actually, Auburn coach Gene Chizik was emphatic on the point today during his portion of SEC coaches' weekly teleconference with reporters: "Cameron Newton will be playing Saturday against the Georgia Bulldogs." There you have it.
It's the second day in a row Chizik has emotionally defended his embattled quarterback in front of the press in response to a specific story breaking online. Tuesday, he lashed out at a Fox Sports report that Newton left Florida in late 2008 with at least three charges of academic misconduct pending against him. Today, Chizik was responding to a rumor that tore through Twitter like wildfire this morning when ESPN Dallas radio host Ian Fitzsimmons was (incorrectly) quoted to the effect that the NCAA was preparing to suspend Newton today over allegations in a late-night ESPN report that cited sources at Mississippi State tying Newton and his father directly to a pay-for-play scheme during Newton's recruitment out of junior college last winter. False alarm, everybody! Sorry about that.
But the misinformation didn't just alarm anxious tweeters: Within minutes of the suspension "report," the betting line for the Auburn-Georgia game (generally listing Auburn as an eight-point favorite at home) began disappearing from sportsbooks, including leading gambling sites Bodog.com, Sportsbook.com, PointSpreads.com and BetUS.com, none of which have restored the line as of this posting. At least one, Sportsbook.com, also pulled its Heisman Trophy odds, where Newton was the odds-on favorite by a mile.
Again, as of this afternoon, Newton will play Saturday against Georgia – he has not been suspended or declared ineligible, whatever the presumptions of his guilt. But if you needed any more evidence of the precariousness of Newton's status in the minds of pretty much everyone who's remotely interested in it, there it is. He's like a guy who's day-to-day with a bum ankle that threatens to explode in the entire program's face.
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Matt Hinton is on Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.