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December 9, 2010
When the season began, most observers were wondering if Alabama could repeat as national titlists and become the fifth consecutive SEC team to win the national title.
Turns out, it was the SEC's other Alabama-based team that was the national title contender.
The arrival of quarterback Cam Newton from junior college transformed Auburn's offense into an unstoppable unit that has been able to overcome a shaky defense. Thanks to Newton, the Tigers will play for the national title on Jan. 10 against Oregon. Each of the past four national champs has been an SEC team.
Newton's tremendous play makes him our SEC player of the year. He is just the third player in FBS history to have 20 rushing TDs and 20 passing TDs in the same season.
His teammate, defensive tackle Nick Fairley, is our SEC defensive player of the year. Fairley has been extremely disruptive in the middle, with 10.5 sacks, 21 tackles for loss and 21 quarterback hurries.
Auburn's Gene Chizik and Gus Malzahn are our coach and coordinator of the year, respectively, in the SEC. Chizik was a somewhat controversial hire when he was named after the 2008 season, but he has the Tigers in the national title game in his second season as coach. Malzahn oversees a unit that leads the SEC and is seventh nationally in total offense and leads the SEC and is sixth nationally in scoring offense. The question with Malzahn is whether he will get a head-coaching offer that would cause him to leave the Plains.