Chizik Talks Cam Newton, Leadership

Auburn coach Gene Chizik discusses Cam Newton and talks about the role leadership has played for the Tigers.

Atlanta, Ga.--This week the NCAA and Southeastern Conference released a statement saying that Auburn quarterback Cameron Newton was eligible to play football and had not been ineligible for any games this season. Since the whole Newton situation began a month ago Auburn coach Gene Chizik has stuck up for his quarterback while at the same time refusing to discuss the specifics of what is going on.

Now that Newton has been cleared, Chizik talked briefly about his star junior quarterback before getting to the meat of questions heading into the SEC Championship Game.

"We're glad the NCAA was in agreement with us that Auburn University and Cameron Newton had done nothing wrong," Chizik said. "Cameron will be our starting quarterback tomorrow and he has the previous 12 weeks. I think that is pretty self-explanatory and will answer most of the questions you may have had."

Since the news of the announcement Newton has not been allowed to comment but that is expected to change following Saturday's game at the Georgia Dome. Chizik said while he won't comment on how this week's news has impacted his team, he did say everyone is focused on the task at hand.

"Cameron, like the rest of our football team, is a very focused young man," Chizik said. "We've got one thing that is on our mind and that is this game tomorrow."

Focus is something the Tigers have had plenty of this season. With comeback wins in eight games this season, four after trailing by double-figures, Auburn hasn't panicked this year when the Tigers very easily could have lost their cool. Chizik said Newton's presence is just one of the factors for this team's success when backed against the wall.

"I think Cam has been a tremendous leader for our football team," Chizik said. "I think our football team sees that. When you get into adverse situations players are basically going to look at three entities. They're going to look to the coaches, they're going to look to the quarterback, and they are going to look to any seniors that may be on the team and how they respond. I've got to give a lot of credit to our coaches because they have made really good adjustments. Our coaches have maintained a level of poise and confidence that at times has been really challenging.

"We've got a lot of seniors on our team that I think have been through a lot their four years at Auburn. They've been through a lot of good, been through some bad, and through a lot of adversity. I think that's helpful. Then when you have a guy like Cameron who is very focused, he's just an unbelievable competitor. I think everybody sees that. When a group of people see that in a situation where you're not particularly where you want to be at that moment, they are looking for leadership and guys that have that look in their eye. I think we've been able to do that."

Kickoff for Saturday's SEC Championship Game between #1 Auburn (12-0) and #16 South Carolina (9-3) is scheduled for 3 p.m. central time at the Georgia Dome.

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