NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. -- The BCS National Championship Game tilt between No. 1 Florida State and No. 2 Auburn has been dissected six ways from Sunday, but one aspect of the game that could benefit the Tigers is the familiarity one member of Auburn's coaching staff has with the Seminoles' best player.
Former Tiger quarterback and current co-offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach Dameyune Craig spent the previous three seasons on the Florida State staff, and was instrumental in recruiting quarterback Jameis Winston to Tallahassee.
How important was he?
Winston went so far as to directly thank Craig during his acceptance speech for the 2013 Heisman Trophy.
"If I wasn't around a bunch of people, I probably would have started crying," Craig said. "It was really emotional for me, because he didn't have to do that. That says a lot about him as a person. For him to share the brightest moment of his life with me, meant a lot to me."
It isn't just Craig's knowledge of Winston that should be concerning for Florida State. Fisher was Craig's quarterback coach during Craig's playing career at Auburn from 1994-97, and the two were members of LSU's coaching staff in 2004.
Will that knowledge of Winston and Fisher benefit Auburn?
Despite being an offensive coach, Craig's familiarity could come in handy for a Tiger defense that's looking to gain an edge on one of the most dynamic players in college football this season.
"Yeah, I've spoken with the guys," he said. "I'm not calling the defense, so I'm not sure that'll help. But, you know, coach [Jimbo] Fisher coached me for five years, I worked one year at LSU with him and three years at Florida State. I've been in his offense. I understand his reads, I understand what he's looking for, I understand his checks."
Craig is more concerned about his wide receiver group and making sure that his guys do their job, and has only provided feedback when he and Auburn's defensive staff feel it's appropriate.
"Sometimes, you can give somebody too much information," he said. "Unless they ask me something, I really won't volunteer it."
Fisher doesn't hold any ill feelings toward Craig for making the jump back to his alma mater and Tiger head coach Gus Malzahn's staff.
"Dameyune's a great coach and a great guy," Fisher said. "When I coached him, he was a great player—one of the best players I've ever coached."
So what does Fisher think Craig's presence means for Auburn?
"Nothing," he said. "[Miami offensive coordinator] James Coley had it too."
Coley's Hurricanes managed just 275 yards against the 'Noles in a 41-14 loss in early November. But Coley, who was on the Florida State staff from 2008-2012, only had one week to prepare for his former employer, not a full month.
We'll see what happens on Monday night. If Auburn's defense seems to be one step ahead of the Seminoles' offense, Craig's knowledge of the system could be a big reason why.
*Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer for Bleacher Report. All quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.
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