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And the coach did get to talk some football at media day.

The Tigers have to replace eight starters on both offense and defense, along with both kickers. That includes the Heisman Trophy winner and No. 1 NFL draft pick Newton and Fairley, who won the Lombardi Award and was also a first-round pick.

“Players leave, but tradition doesn’t,” tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen said. “I don’t think there’s ever going to be another Cameron Newton in college football. He did some things that were just freakish.”

The closest player Auburn has to a returning star is running back Michael Dyer, the offensive MVP of the national championship game. The Tigers will be relying heavily on players from two straight consensus top-5 recruiting classes.

Barrett Trotter, Clint Moseley and freshman Kiehl Frazier will battle for the starting quarterback job in preseason camp. Only one quarterback question was asked in his media day session or an earlier meeting with beat writers.

“Everybody’s going to ask about the quarterback, and rightly so,” Chizik said. “The reality is battles going on everywhere, and a lot of young guys are going to be in the battles.”

The Tigers have only two scholarship tailbacks returning, Dyer and Onterio McCalebb. Freshman Mike Blakely, a Florida signee, has transferred to Auburn but tweeted Wednesday that the NCAA had denied his appeal to be eligible this season. Chizik said Auburn is still “working through the process” but declined to elaborate.

Lutzenkirchen said he’s OK with the low expectations facing the Tigers.

“Like last year, everybody’s pretty much underrating us and not really giving us a chance,” he said. “That’s the way I’d rather it be. I’d rather prove everybody wrong than prove everybody right. That gives us more motivation.”