Just got back from new FSU QB Coach and Recruiting Coordinator Dameyune Craig's appearance for the Atlanta Seminole Club tonight. Thought I would share a few comments. This is my first time being exposed to him for any significant amount of time.
First the general impressions, and then some highlights from his comments (or the best I can do from memory):
- Sharp looking guy. As advertised, was dressed well, in a nice suit with no tie
- Seems very comfortable with the position. Not incredibly polished, no pr-guy vibe about him, just very confident and comfortable
- Good sense of humor. Not in the way we are accustomed to, with prepared jokes and witticisms, but in his responses, and his reactions to some questions. Not a laugh riot, but a very pleasant easy sense of humor
- Maybe the biggest impression, he seemed like a very honest guy. Seemed to be answering the questions truthfully, and spin didn't seem to be a part of his game. Obviously, Jimbo Fisher makes a priority to make sure the coaches speak with one voice, so the potential was there to have a guy come off sounding like he was reciting party line. I would say the impression was more like Fisher assembled guys that that share his philosophy (or whose philosophy he helped mold).
- Overall, this was a guy that I think you can feel comfortable about connecting with every kind of kid. He speaks well and with intelligence, but doesn't come off like he's trying to sound like a Harvard professor. Very confident without being cocky, and very honest and authentic.
What I can remember from his comments to follow...
More or less random things from his speech and Q&A. Nothing particularly new or newsworthy, mostly the same thing we've heard from other sources, with one possible interesting item I'll post last.
- Opening comments pretty much hit the high points of everything else we've heard. They seem to be designed to address all the concerns of recent years. Coaches get along great. A bunch of them are on the road right now. They're targeting Georgia hard, and seemed to imply that FSU coaches haven't been a big presence in the area in recent years. It won't take long for FSU to get back. Spring went great.
From the Q&A (I think):
- Clint Trickett and Will Secord had great springs. Was utterly amazed at Trickett's ability to absorb the information. Secord may have been the most improved player between the first and last day of spring practice.
- The staff has already evaluated over 1000 kids. They almost went out to Hawaii recently to see a kid, and the coaches were fighting over whose turn it was to go. They didn't end up making the trip (didn't say why). Talked about keeping tabs on 8th and 9th graders.
- Has travelled 1300 miles in the last four days (or something like that).
- This was interesting and good to hear: Said when he walks into schools, kids still light up at the FSU colors. You can see the excitement associated with our colors and uniform. (my note: this is especially amazing considering that most would not remember our glory years). He strongly made a point to ask Atlanta Seminoles to make sure they wear their FSU clothes out and about, that it's important advertising and definitely has an effect on kids.
- Jimbo Fisher even has his hand in what they wear on the recruiting trail, and recently had a meeting with the equipment manager about what he was sending the coaches out in.
- Coaches talk frequently on the recruiting trail, and have no problem switching off responsibilities if travel makes it a good idea for one coach to call on another coach's prospect. Also, if they think one coach's personality might make a better connection.
- Said his QB Coach responsibilities he shares with Fisher is by design, which will allow him to occasionally be on the road on a Friday while Fisher handles the quarterbacks for that practice. Designed to give a leg up in recruiting.
- Said there is no question who will be calling plays (Fisher), but that Fisher suprisingly allowed them to call plays in the spring game. Craig said luckily he had Ponder, so it wasn't to hard to look good.
- Said Coach Fisher was "part Nick Saban, part Bobby Bowden." My note - I don't think you could ask for a more ideal coach than that should it turn out to be true. Said Fisher can turn on the charm when he wants, and "get in your butt" when he wants, and that he's great at both.
- Said he spoke to Coach Fisher before his record-setting 600-yard passing performance in NFL Europe
- Was asked about the loyalty factor in being an Auburn guy now working for Florida State. The first thing he said was all he had to do was look at his check. Then he went on to talk about the jobs he's had, and the success they had at each stop, and his loyalty at each stop. Said he grew up admiring FSU, and couldn't play there so he did the next best thing and played for Terry Bowden.
- Was asked why those Auburn teams in the 90's never managed to play FSU. He said he really didn't think Terry wanted to. He said he thinks Terry is by far the most competitive of all the Bowdens, and it would have been ugly in the family. Said he didn't think Terry could have handled it as well as Tommy did.
- Said the spring game turn out was extremely encouraging. Coaches that had been their last season told him that was more than they had had at games, and Craig was shocked. The attendence made a big impression on the coaches and kids.
- I'll try to think of some more tidbits, and someone else can correct me if they were there and think I've mischaracterized anything, but here was the most fascinating to me...
Toward the end, a young lady asked about Big 10/SEC expansion. Craig got a big smile on his face. His comments:
- Fist started hearing about it about a week ago
- Fisher was building and SEC-style team. Big lineman, big atheletes who can catch etc.
- The will be ready for it if it happens in three years, and they will be ready to compete
- If the SEC added Florida State, Miami and Clemson (I think he actually said Florida State, Clemson and Florida State, but I'll assume he meant to include Miami), nobody could touch the SEC. He really seemed to light up at the thought of it.
I don't want to read too much into those comments, but what was notable was what wasn't said. The words ACC never left his mouth. Not "the ACC is a great conference as it is," or "we're happy in the ACC" or any kind of defense or consideration of the ACC. I'm going to give my own interpretation of his reaction to the question, which may be way off, but I'd be suprised if anyone got a different impression
- It sounded to me like the coaches had talked about it, judging from the comment about "three years from now" he at least knows the specifics of the timeline
- The attitude of Craig, and for a lot of reasons I think you can assume the rest of the coaching staff, is that it would thrill them. The impression seemed to be one of hoping FSU got the opportunity.
- I would characterize it as sort of an "if we get the chance it would be great" attitude. Definitely not a political answer AT ALL.
- My impression is that if it were up to our coaches, joining the SEC would be a no-brainer. It's totally possible those were Craig's own feelings and he was totally off the reservation on this, but nothing else about his talk (or comments from any other coaches) indicate that all the coaches don't stay pretty close to the same page
Obviously, the decision isn't up to the football coaches. There are a lot of people that are for or against FSU in the SEC, one of the arguments being that the SEC makes too hard a road to a national title game (my comment - a position I find difficult to assimilate considering the success of SEC teams in the national title hunt in recent years). But I would say that at least Dameyune Craig, if not the coaching staff, isn't intimidated by that.
Thanks, I hope to be corrected if someone else has any other thoughts on the evening. Sorry for any typos, I'm too tired to re-read my screed after typing that.