Newton, Tigers start title game preparation
Cam Newton and No. 1 Auburn finally got to return to the
football practice field – sort of.
The Tigers (13-0) and their Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback
began preparation for the BCS national championship game against
Oregon on Saturday night. But they’re doing it on the soccer field
while their regular surface is being redone across the street.
Coach Gene Chizik said the move across the street doesn’t
disrupt the routine.
”If we’ve got to practice in a parking lot,” he said, ”we’ll
practice out there.
It might be a welcome respite for Newton after a seven-day
whirlwind when he collected the Heisman, the Davey O’Brien Award
and the Maxwell Award, read the Top 10 list for David Letterman and
appeared on ”Good Morning America.” And before that, he dealt
with a pay-for-play investigation by the NCAA.
Newton can focus on football again.
”It’s been kind of crazy for me lately, but I’m embracing this
whole process: Practicing for the bowl game,” Newton said. ”Just
being around the guys. That’s what I’m used to. It’s been fun so
far. I look forward to preparing for this football game.”
The Jan. 10 game in Glendale, Ariz., is still more than three
weeks away. The Tigers will practice three more times before
breaking for Christmas on Wednesday.
And Newton has come back to normalcy after returning from trips
to New York City and Orlando.
”He handled himself exactly the way we’d have wanted him to,”
Chizik said. ”He’s handled himself with his teammates, coming back
and being one of the guys. I think he appreciates being that. I
think the team appreciates him being who he’s been for 13 weeks. He
hasn’t changed a lick.
”I think he’s ready to get back into football, ready to get
back with his team. I think he’s done a fabulous job of handling
all that stuff.”
And now the team has to handle the national championship hype.
The Tigers have moved into this position with eight
come-from-behind wins and a 56-17 rout of South Carolina in the
Southeastern Conference championship game on Dec. 4.
Linebacker Josh Bynes said they aren’t getting carried away with
”We’re not letting any magnitude of the game, being the
national championship, get to us,” Bynes said. ”It’s not like,
‘Oh dang. The national championship. Oh, wow.’ We’re more like,
it’s the next game, it’s the next team on the map that we know
we’re going to have to defeat. We’re 60 minutes away from being
crowned national champions. But we have to play ball first.”