- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 11, 2011

GLENDALE, ARIZ. (AP) - Auburn’s Nick Fairley had his NFL-ready skills and penchant for drawing ire on display during the BCS championship game. The Lombardi Award-winning defensive tackle was disruptive and downright unblockable at times.

Like usual this season.

“That’s why he’s going to make a bunch of money one day,” Auburn defensive coordinator Ted Roof said after the top-ranked Tigers claimed their first national title since 1957 with Monday night’s 22-19 victory over Oregon.

The question, though, is when. “We’ll see,” Roof said.

Fairley completed his run from mostly unknown junior college transfer to major college star and coveted NFL commodity with an entirely appropriate performance.

Some big plays. A dose of controversy. And another win.

The All-American was flagged for a personal foul at the end of a run by LaMichael James for twisting an Oregon player’s helmet. He had the elusive James slip out of his grasp on the next play, then plowed into quarterback Darron Thomas from behind to jar the ball loose and help end an Oregon drive.

James didn’t seem to hold a grudge against his friendly rival, whom he met on the awards circuit and chatted with briefly after the game.

“It was nothing bad. It was all love,” James said. “I was calling him a cheater because he kept grabbing my facemask. He really is a good guy. He was a competitor.”

Asked how he can be nice off the field and not-so-nice on it, Fairley said: “You just have to know how to turn on and off the switch.”

Leading up to the game, Thomas said the Ducks had seen Fairley make “a lot of dirty plays” on film. That echoed the sentiment of some rival Southeastern Conference fans and rivals.

The accusations have hardly diminished Auburn fans’ affection for the 300-pounder. He got a huge roar from the crowd when he was announced as the defensive MVP.

Oregon didn’t fare much better than SEC offenses against Fairley, who will be a likely top 10 pick if he chooses to forgo his senior season and enter the NFL draft.

Nick Fairley proved he’s the best defensive lineman in the country,” Oregon coach Chip Kelly said.

Against Oregon, Fairley had a hand in some of Auburn’s biggest defensive plays.

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