Jan. 23, 2014
MOBILE, Ala. – Dameyune Craig won’t say it. He doesn’t have to. Other than the players who gave so much on the field, Auburn’s 34-31 loss to Florida State in the BCS Championship Game hurt no one like it hurt him.
Craig had spent the previous three seasons at Florida State. He’d recruited many of the Florida State players, including quarterback Jameis Winston. And he could do nothing but watch as the Seminoles scored with 13 seconds left in the game to snatch it away.
But don’t look for Craig, who broke records as an Auburn quarterback, to mope. Craig, Auburn’s co-offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach, says what happened in 2013 – a 12-2 record, Southeastern Conference championship and No. 2 national ranking – is just the beginning.
Craig took a brief break from the recruiting trail to join head coach Gus Malzahn at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile for Wednesday’s Senior Bowl practice.
“I think about it a lot,” Craig said. “It makes you work hard. That’s motivation right now, to get back. The work that goes into it and the reward you get, even though we didn’t win the game you can’t lose sight of us winning the SEC championship. My five years here, I didn’t have an opportunity to do that. I think that’s a great accomplishment in itself. I can look at the season as a huge success.”
Craig believed until the end that Auburn would find a way to win as it had found a way so many times throughout the season. That it didn’t happen has not dampened his belief that the Auburn’s greatest days are ahead.
“I just felt like we would make a play to win that game at the end,” Craig said. “We’d been in that situation before. Even when we got the ball back with 13 seconds left, I still thought we had a chance to win. We’ll pick up where we left off last season.”
Auburn’s success has not gone unnoticed by the young men who will decide in two weeks where they will sign to play college football.
“When you have an opportunity to play for a national championship, that speaks volumes for your program,” Craig said. “It puts you in great position to go after some guys you wouldn’t have an opportunity to go after. Everything has been great. We have great leadership. Coach is pointing us in the right direction, and the guys are out on the road working extremely hard right now.”
Craig talked about his wide receivers and the progress they made over the course of the season, about how they learned to make tough catches and to break free of press coverage. He laughed about a headline in The Palm Beach Post that said he was “frustrated” about not being a head coach. “I did not say that,” Craig said, laughing at it all.
Soon, it was time to go back on the recruiting trail, back to telling high school players and their families all about Auburn, the SEC champion.
Phillip Marshall is a Senior Writer for AuburnTigers.com. Follow Marshall on Twitter: