Auburn was definitely the better football team tonight. Whether Auburn will deeply regret not withholding Cam remains to be seen (but as they always say, when there's smoke, there's fire). We played with them until the end, and retrospectively the AU onside kick at the beginning of the 2nd half was absolutely the turning point, swinging the # of possessions battle in their favor.
However, the refs lost control of the game. Everyone knew that a whirlwind of emotions were also lining up between the hashes, and Auburn vented them early and often. I frankly lost count of the personal fouls, called and uncalled, primarily coming from Auburn's side of the ball. From Cam Newton's slap of a stiff arm, to...
Plus several other hits on Aaron, with the defenders driving him into the ground well after the pass was off. (Which Verne and Gary specifically commented on, and mentioned that other schools had complained about it as well).
And then there was the hit on Aaron. From my subjective view, a flag absolutely should have been thrown on Nick Fairley on the play below. Fairley hit Aaron well after the ball was out, and as you'll see, he angled back in to hit Aaron himself (what Gary Danielson saw, I don't know, but he wasn't blocked into Aaron). Hits like this on a vulnerable QB well after the ball is out can end a career, and to see the defender angle back in for the hit is frankly sickening.
UGA was right to get upset about the hit. Less than 2 minutes left in the game, 1 UGA TO and down by 18, there was no reason for Auburn to be in any other defensive set than a deep zone cover. Fairley was going after the QB simply to pad stats and pose himself as "the champion". Why wasn't he flagged once for doing the championship belt move, which he did multiple times throughout the game, including at the end of the fight video below? Not that I condone getting into fights on the field, but let the record show that 2 Auburn players were ejected for throwing punches on 2 different plays.
I know there are good, decent Plainsmen out there, including one of our own bloggers on this site, but this game makes me question the emphasis and direction the Auburn program is heading. With the preponderance of evidence that's already out there on Cam, there's no doubt in my mind that he will at some point be declared ineligible. Is Auburn really willing to win at any cost? Or does Auburn accept their checkered history of pay-for-play (ex 1 and ex 2) as a cost of doing business?
Oddly enough, this contrast makes me even prouder to be a Dawg and to have CMR roaming the sidelines. We will know with CMR when we do reach the shining prize at the top of the BCS mountain, there won't be any asterisks, scandals, or cheap play clouding our achievements.