Russ Mitchell covers the SEC for www.CollegeFootballNews.com. Please follow him on Twitter
Forgetting for a moment that MSU was celebrating the life of Nick Bell at a service Thursday… We're surprised the powers that be couldn't push this story back just 12 hours. Particularly since the players involved (MSU and Auburn) have a bye week and Chattanooga on deck. Given the circumstances, the timing showed poor form.
That being noted, everyone's talking about the forest here but missing the trees. This story will play out the way it will, but we can all agree it's quite unlikely to be resolved by kickoff Saturday. As a result, this weekend's two marquee SEC games just got exponentially more interesting.
Take Bama for example. Saban Bowl IV suddenly becomes Alabama's National Championship ticket. Don't believe us?
IF there's fire behind the smoke, then Auburn will most certainly not be allowed to represent the West in Atlanta, nor would Cam play in the Iron Bowl. With the Tide having already beaten Arkansas, a win in Baton Rouge all but assures them a spot in the Conference Championship – as it's doubtful a Cam-less Auburn is bouncing back this late to beat the Tide in Tuscaloosa.
In that SEC finale, it's just as unlikely Alabama loses twice to SC or once to Florida.
So beat LSU and the Tide very likely win the SEC again. And as defending Champions, they'll get the benefit of the doubt even with a loss, and be bowling in Glendale come January.
While the Bayou Bengals have less of a guarantee, this would grant them a huge reprieve. It's doubtful a Cam-lead Auburn squad is losing twice; so while upsetting the Tide in Death Valley would make the Tiger faithful giddy, it's not providing a ticket to Atlanta. IF Auburn's in serious trouble, the winner of Bama v. LSU is in the driver's seat.
The same could really be said for Arkansas, whose game against South Carolina also becomes a whole lot more interesting.
Not so much for South Carolina – they lost to the Tigers too, but Auburn's not standing in their way for a trip to Atlanta. However, if the Hogs can escape from Columbia with the W – and that's a big if – they head home for the Golden Boot game against LSU. Hand the Tigers their second conference loss, especially if said Tigers have beaten Bama, and whoa Nellie, we've got ourselves a regular hoedown.
IF Auburn is "suspended" for this season, we're relatively confident the teams they've beaten will still have the one conference loss. For example, no one in CFB is going to consider LSU undefeated if Auburn's wins are vacated. If not, that's even better news for LSU and Arkansas.
Personally, when all the chips are counted, I don't think this will play out that way. Yes, it's unusual for school officials to put their necks on the line to this degree unless they have proof. Maybe it's just the joy of watching Newton play on Saturdays that's speaking for me right now... But until I hear that proof, I've got Newton raising the trophy in Arizona.
Regardless of what eventually transpires, Week 10 in the SEC just got a whole lot more interesting.
Along with Brian Harbach, Russ Mitchell writes a weekly column on the SEC for College Football News. Y'all Play Nice can be read every Thursday on the Scout.com network of sites.
Please follow him on Twitter