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Auburn: No problem keeping cool in California sun

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Defensive lineman Dee Ford answers questions for reporters during Media Day on Saturday. (Source: George Jones/Raycom News Network) Defensive lineman Dee Ford answers questions for reporters during Media Day on Saturday. (Source: George Jones/Raycom News Network)

NEWPORT BEACH, CA (RNN) - The first thing Dee Ford did when he took his seat underneath a bank of bright lights and a semicircle of cameras in his face was lean back in his chair, pull out a phone and snap a photo.

Talk about turning the tables - a star defensive lineman for Auburn was recording the people who were recording him.

It's been that way for Ford ever since he set foot in California, and really, a long time before that.

"My personality is laid back, so I stay laid back," Ford said with an ever-present grin on his face. "I'm just enjoying everything. I was kind of wild to see [California], but I never get too excited."

He's not the only one.

Everywhere throughout the large hotel banquet room that was the scene for Media Day on Saturday, it seemed like Auburn's players were the only people unaware they would be playing for a national championship in two days.

Defensive tackle Jeffrey Whitaker grabbed a microphone and was interviewing his teammates.

Running back Chandler Shakespeare was reading Shakespeare in the middle of an interview. Literally. And everyone within hearing distance was cracking up.

"Our team has been a joy to coach - they don't get too high, they don't get too low," head coach Gus Malzahn said. "They've really taken a business-like approach this week."

Business-like? Cracking jokes on each other and mugging with celebrities is serious stuff, right?

But make no mistake about it, talking to reporters about Florida State is one thing. Talking to each other about Florida State is another.

"They've found a way to prepare each week," Malzahn said. "Whether we're playing Alabama or an [FCS] team, they've prepared the same way and found a way to focus, and that's rare."

While the talk swirls about how much more dominant the Seminoles have been, don't forget one thing - Auburn has players on its roster who have been in this situation before.

Ford was a sophomore on the 2011 national championship team. Defensive back Chris Davis was a true freshman, but he was injured on the opening kickoff and on crutches the rest of the game.

He can laugh about it now.

"Bo Jackson made me feel bad going into the locker room," Davis said. "He told me he got kicked in the leg by a horse and it didn't keep him out of the Iron Bowl, and I let a high ankle sprain keep me out of the National Championship game. So he kind of made me feel bad."

Again, the tables have turned. It was another play on special teams that made Davis a local hero who gets standing ovations when he walks into class.

"It's just crazy. I'm a very humble person, so that's how I handled it, I guess," Davis said. "I just tried to stay level headed throughout the whole process."

That, in a nutshell, seems to be Auburn's formula for success.

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