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First and Goal for the GOP

Good football and good politics go together.

Jan 24, 2011, Vol. 16, No. 18 • By FRED BARNES
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Chizik isn’t taking any chances. “When I said a year ago we were going to roll up our sleeves and were going to recruit the best players in the country, it was not lip service,” Chizik told Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports. “We went after the best players in the country, East Coast to West, who we thought fit in at Auburn. We’re very proud to be representing Auburn and very confident we can battle anyone for players.” The proof is in the championship.

Chizik riled liberal sportswriters by talking about God’s role in Auburn’s victory. Cam Newton, Auburn’s star quarterback, credited God with helping him surmount a controversy involving his father’s demand for a recruiting payoff. Cam Newton and Auburn were absolved by the NCAA of any part in the scheme. “I thank God every single day,” Cam Newton told ESPN moments after the game. “I’m just His instrument. I’m a prime example of how God can turn something that was bad into something that was very great.”

His comment shouldn’t trouble anyone. It’s just the way many Christians talk about their faith, including athletes like Newton whose father is a Pentecostal preacher. It’s a Southern thing.

Alabama Republican party chairman Mike Hubbard personifies the harmony between football and politics. He lives in the town of Auburn and runs the Auburn Network, which broadcasts Auburn sports. He was the mastermind behind the Republican landslide in November, personally raising the crucial $5 million. Now he’s the speaker of the Alabama House, proof that good football and Republican politics go together.

Fred Barnes is executive editor of The Weekly Standard.

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