Auburn football coach Gene Chizik guided the Tigers to last year's BCS national championship, maintaining a focus that was tested in November when allegations surfaced that quarterback Cam Newton had been shopped around by his father.
This spring, there were even more negative headlines. Four Auburn players were arrested on armed robbery charges and dismissed from the team, and four former players went on HBO claiming they were paid during their years on the Plains.
And the NCAA still hasn't closed the book on Newton.
"We only worry about one thing, and that's what we can control," Chizik said this week. "Again, we know that we are doing everything the right way here, and we feel good about the direction of the program. So we don't pay attention to the outside distractions."
Chizik's Tigers could be loaded for 2012 but first must tackle a 2011 season with a roster that has safety Neiko Thorpe, linebacker Eltoro Freeman, receiver Quindarius Carr and offensive linemen A.J. Greene and Brandon Mosley as the lone seniors of note.
Auburn may be the only SEC team whose starting quarterback may not be on campus.
Barrett Trotter and Clint Moseley are in their third years under offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn and battled to a draw this spring. They will be challenged in August by Kiehl Frazier, the USA Today offensive player of the year who has a similar style to Newton.
"They're faceless and nameless guys, and we're going to play the best players," Chizik said. "If Kiehl becomes the guy we think gives us the best chance to win, then he'll be the one that plays."