Time for Tide to Bear up

Bear, if you're up there, "Mama's calling" again.

When you coached at Kentucky in the 1940s and quarterback George Blanda first caught glimpse of you, he said, "This must be what God looks like."

It's time to warble another hymn.

This is about Alabama and Auburn. It's about Friday, the 75th Iron Bowl, football's top rivalry in years when the Michigan-Ohio State winner likely determines whether Wisconsin or Michigan State goes to the Rose Bowl.

Bear, college football needs Alabama to beat Auburn.

Roll Tide.

This is nothing against Auburn and its 11-0 season and its spectacular quarterback, Cam Newton.

This is about preventing a nightmare.

Let's say Auburn beats Alabama and then South Carolina on Dec. 4 to earn a trip to the Bowl Championship Series title game.

Then on, say, Dec. 14, the NCAA rules Newton ineligible as a result of its pay-for-play investigation?

What then?

Rumors have been swirling for a month that Newton's father, Cecil, demanded money from Mississippi State in return for his son's services. Cam, of course, ended up choosing Auburn instead.

No one has connected Cam Newton or Auburn to any wrongdoing, and Newton has played as the investigation continues.

I know the motto in college football is "win first, ask questions later," but does the sport really need another Reggie Bush?

USC, pending NCAA appeal, is going to vacate its 2004 title for sanctions levied against its program.

Even if nothing is proved with Newton, some people never are going to believe he's innocent.

Alabama can do everyone outside War Eagle Nation a favor by whipping the Tigers on Friday in Tuscaloosa.

Removing Auburn might spare us angst (and an asterisk) while also paving the way for Boise State or TCU to earn a championship game berth.

This would be a major breakthrough for a sport that has been accused of being rigged against the little schools. This wouldn't dampen screams for a playoff, and that's fine. But proving it's possible for Boise or TCU to earn a title shot might get Congress off college football's back.

Alabama beating Auburn would solve other problems too.

For example, if Auburn and Oregon end up in the title game, the Rose Bowl can't take Stanford, even at 11-1.

That spot this year has to go to the highest-ranking "non-automatic qualifier" — Boise State or TCU.

If Auburn loses, though, and, say, Boise State ends up in the title game, the Rose Bowl is off the hook and could take Stanford.

But what, then, would happen to undefeated TCU? Would the 12-0 Horned Frogs get squeezed out of a BCS game?

Bear, you can help us with that one too, by helping Arkansas beat LSU on Saturday in Little Rock.

Everyone knows you were born in Arkansas and were "Paul William Bryant" until you wrestled that bear and ended up with your nickname.

An Arkansas win puts a second loss on LSU and eliminates the Tigers from at-large BCS consideration.

If that happens, and Stanford ends up No. 4 in the final BCS standings, the Cardinal are guaranteed a place in a BCS game.

In that scenario, the Rose Bowl might take undefeated TCU knowing Stanford would have to be taken by either the Sugar or Orange bowls (the Fiesta this year is resigned to hosting the Big East and Big 12 champions).

Bear, you were 19-6 against Auburn, so you know what this is all about.

Bear, you once said you'd rather beat Auburn once than Texas 10 times.

Alabama is the defending national champion, trying to prevent Auburn from reliving its last national championship season of 1957 — a year, by the way, the school was on NCAA probation.

Alabama has won 20 straight games at Bryant-Denny Stadium and, two years ago in Tuscaloosa, beat Auburn 36-0.

An Alabama repeat of that, at home, would be sweet.


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