From back of the pack to top of the heap, Auburn's climb to its first national title in 53 years was unprecedented.
The Tigers finished No. 1 in The Associated Press Top 25 following a 22-19 victory against Oregon in the BCS championship Monday night. Auburn won its only other AP title in 1957, and the Tigers started 2010 further back than any champion since the poll expanded to 25 teams in 1989.
Auburn (14-0) began the season at No. 22. The previous lowest preseason ranking for a national champion in the Top 25 era was Oklahoma, which went from No. 19 to No. 1 in 2000. The Tigers received 56 of 59 first-place votes Monday night.
TCU (13-0) had to settle for No. 2 after beating Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl. The Horned Frogs received the other three first-place votes and had their best finish in the AP poll since winning the 1938 national title.
Oregon finished third, a spot ahead of Pac-10 rival Stanford. Ohio State was fifth.
• Final AP and USAToday coaches polls on B4.
MICHIGAN TABS HOKE
Michigan picked San Diego State’s Brady Hoke as its new football coach – replacing Rich Rodriguez – hours after LSU said Les Miles would be staying in the Bayou. Hoke is a former defensive line coach for the Wolverines and helped lead them to the 1997 national title.
San Diego State reportedly has promoted defensive coordinator Rocky Long to replace Hoke.
EWU UNANIMOUS NO. 1
Eastern Washington finished the 2010 football season as the unanimous No. 1 team in the Football Championship Subdivision coaches poll, getting all 25 votes and 625 points overall.
The Eagles, who beat Delaware, 20-19, in the national title game, even got one vote in The Associated Press’ Football Bowl Subdivision level.
Auburn’s national title win was worth $600,000 to coach Gene Chizik, giving him $1.1 million in performance-related pay in 2010. The TV rating for the BCS title game drew a 15.3 rating on ESPN – down 11 percent from last year. However, it drew the highest cable audience ever with an average of more than 27 million viewers. Boston College offensive coordinator Gary Tranquill, 70, is retiring.