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FSU hiring back the assistant who maybe stole signs from the Noles in 2013’s title game

Dameyune Craig was the subject of a key subplot in FSU’s national title win over Auburn three years ago.

BCS National Championship - Florida State v Auburn
Dameyune Craig at the 2013 season’s national title game, where he coached for Auburn against Florida State.
Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Florida State is hiring Dameyune Craig as a quality control analyst.

Craig comes to Tallahassee after working last season as LSU’s receivers coach, and for the three seasons before that as a co-offensive coordinator at Auburn. Before that, he was Florida State’s quarterbacks coach from 2010 to 2012.

Those two previous stops at FSU and then Auburn are part of what makes this interesting. Recall that the Seminoles and Tigers met in the 2013 season’s BCS Championship Game, in the last year before the Playoff took over the sport. Florida State won that game and capped a brilliant, unbeaten season.

Florida State’s vaunted offense, led by quarterback Jameis Winston, struggled in the first half against Auburn. This was at the end of Craig’s first season at Auburn, just one season separated from his time at FSU.

On the sideline during the game, Noles receiver Kelvin Benjamin was overheard telling head coach Jimbo Fisher, "Dameyune calling all the plays.”

Fisher acknowledged after the game that Florida State wasn’t properly rotating its signals to prevent sign-stealing.

“They had a couple of our signals a couple times and were getting to them,” Fisher told reporters. “That happens, people do it, and that's our fault. You've got to change them, constantly rotate them, being able to get them in different ways. That's part of the game. I don't have a problem with that.”

Florida State used towels to conceal its signals in the second half. That FSU scored 10 points before halftime and 24 afterward is probably not a total coincidence.

Some coaches, like Washington State’s Mike Leach, get really angry when they suspect opposing coaches of sign-stealing. But the practice isn’t against the NCAA’s rules unless teams are using audio or video surveillance to lift other teams’ signals. Nobody ever accused Craig of that, and Fisher’s feelings clearly weren’t hurt.

Craig is regarded around the sport as a strong recruiter, but in his position as an analyst, he’ll be limited in how much recruiting he can actually do. Analysts aren’t NCAA-defined assistant coaches, and they can’t take recruiting trips off-campus.

But they can still tap their rolodexes to land players, and there could be more to Craig’s move anyway. From FSU blog Tomahawk Nation:

Many may wonder why a highly sought after position coach would take a role as an analyst, but next year the NCAA will be making the 10th coach rule official, allowing Dameyune to be a full-time staff member. Joining the staff now allows Dameyune to build relationships with recruits in the 2018 class and beyond now, before eventually being allowed to hit the road to recruit.

Craig played in college at Auburn and had a brief NFL career, as well as stops in the Arena Football League and Canadian Football League. He was the No. 5 recruiter in the country in the 2016 class, according to 247Sports.

Oregon considered hiring Craig earlier this offseason, but he and the Ducks were unable to come to terms.