Thursday, June 2, 2011
Different challenge for Auburn
By Chris Low
DESTIN, Fla. -- The "year after" for Auburn is markedly different than it was for the two national champions that preceded the Tigers out of the SEC.
Florida won in 2008 and was the overwhelming pick to win again in 2009. The Gators ended up losing in the SEC championship game to Alabama.
Alabama won in 2009 and was the pick to win again in 2010. The Crimson Tide didn't even get to the SEC championship game.
Auburn, coming off its 14-0 march to the 2010 national championship, isn't on anybody's radar to repeat in 2011. The Tigers lost just about everybody from a year ago, including the Heisman Trophy winner (quarterback Cam Newton) and Lombardi Award winner (defensive tackle Nick Fairley).
Only six starters return from their national championship team, which means the competition for positions will be fierce once preseason camp begins.
It also means there won't be nearly the sense of entitlement for some of the players that was maybe the case at Alabama last season and Florida in 2009.
"It’s a different dynamic than maybe Florida or Alabama had," Auburn coach Gene Chizik said. "Our guys are hungry. There’s no question that they’ve really, really worked hard in the last four months or so since January. It’s really been a joy for me to watch, guys coming back and getting back into it that fast, being hungry and being excited about competing and trying to win a job. That’s where we’re at."
Chizik said Jan. 10 seems like forever ago, especially with how drastically different Auburn's depth chart looks now compared to what it looked like going into the BCS National Championship Game matchup with Oregon.
"It’s different for us," Chizik said. "What you’re going to see at Auburn is a lot of new faces and a lot of new names. We’ve got guys just fighting for jobs continuously on our roster.
"There are very few positions settled on our roster. Our players understand that we’ve put (the 2010 national title) in our rear-view mirror and have moved on."