BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Alabama-Auburn has always been one of the most storied rivalries in college football, in a class with Ohio State-Michigan, Texas-Oklahoma and Florida-Georgia as the best in the country.
Alabama has usually been the headliner in the Iron Bowl. Just last year the unbeaten Tide was playing to keep its national championship hopes alive, but in Friday’s version in Tuscaloosa, Alabama is the undercard to an upstart Auburn team that is 11-0 and ranked second in the BCS standings.
However, on what should be one of their brightest days of the year, the Tigers have a dark cloud hovering over them. They are being painted with a broad brush after allegations surfaced that the father of recycled star quarterback Cam Newton asked for money during his son’s recruitment out of junior college.
Let’s hope for the sake of college football this is just sour grapes on the part of other coaches who failed to successfully woo Newton and the majority of the SEC can get behind Auburn in its march to a potential national championship.
The conference needs the Tigers to beat 10th-ranked Alabama (9-2) and then win the SEC title game in Atlanta if it hopes to maintain its official dominance. Florida, LSU and Alabama have combined to win the last four BCS national title games. A loss to Alabama would not only keep the SEC out of the BCS title clash, it would only strengthen Boise State’s argument that an undefeated Broncos team belongs in there.
The outcome of this bitter instate rivalry will hinge in large part on how Newton performs against the Tide’s solid defense. The 6-6, 250-pound Newton, who is the first player in SEC history to pass for more than 2,000 yards and rush for more than 1,000, has been the most dynamic player in college football this year and, barring an NCAA intervention, is a deserving candidate to win the Heisman Trophy.