The writing is on the wall that Cam Cameron will be LSU’s next offensive coordinator.
No contract has been signed or official announcement made, but the mere indication has been enough to send Tiger Nation into a state of delirium. Any change is good change, so goes the thinking.
After all it’s been five seasons and two offensive coordinators since LSU has ranked in the top half of the Southeastern Conference in passing offense. From 2009-12, Les Miles’ run-first offense has ranked no higher than 97th in the NCAA throwing the football.
So in comes Cameron, 52, a veteran offensive mind and someone very familiar with Miles after the two coached together for seven seasons in Michigan from 1987-93. But, those tidbits aside, just who is the man soon to be tasked with blowing life into the occasionally stagnant and usually one-dimensional LSU offense?
“He’s suited for college football.”
That’s the first thing Aaron Wilson, who covers the NFL for Fox Sports and the Ravens for The Baltimore Sun, had to say about Cameron, who was fired as the Ravens’ offensive coordinator following a Week 14 loss to the Washington Redskins.
“Cam is a Michigan man,” explained Wilson. “He coached Jim Harbaugh, and he’s tight with everyone you can think of who has Michigan ties. Cam is Les’ guy, and I think it’s going to be a really good situation because Les has someone he can trust and someone with a ton of experience – he’s been an NFL head coach, a successful NFL offensive coordinator.
“Say what you want about how it ended. He had an argument with John Harbaugh and wasn’t listening to staff input maybe as much as he should have been, and that led to his downfall this year, but he has a lot to do with the Ravens being Super Bowl champions right now. Nobody can ever take that away from him.”
As for his X’s and O’s Wilson indicated Cameron, a noted developer of quarterbacks, should align nicely with Miles on offensive philosophy.
“Cam believes in balance,” said Wilson. “He’s one of these guys who is really going to establish the run. He believes in the fullback. He believes in establishing a kind of smash-mouth approach, and then he’ll go vertical if he feels like he can trust the quarterback and the wide receivers to not throw interceptions.
“He can be a little wary sometimes with a young quarterback and throwing over the middle because he believes that leads to interceptions. He likes to work the sidelines, work the intermediate stuff. He is a definite disciple of the Don Coryell principles of the old San Diego Chargers. You look back at Cam in his career, and there’s been some West Coast system, some option football. He’s been a versatile coordinator.”
On top of his NFL experience with the Ravens, Cameron enjoyed a successful run as offensive coordinator of the San Diego Chargers from 2002-06 and coaching quarterbacks with the Washington Redskins from 1994-96. His stint as head coach of the Miami Dolphins didn’t fare as well, with the south Florida team slumping to 1-15 in his only season at the helm in 2007.
Cameron has also served as a collegiate head coach, leading Indiana to an 18-37 record in his five seasons in Bloomington from 1997-2001. It’s Cameron’s stay there, however, coupled with his body of work at Michigan, which lead Wilson to believe he’ll be a more-than-serviceable recruiter for LSU.
“He was a good recruiter at Michigan and Indiana,” Wilson said. “He got and helped develop Antwaan Randle El. He’s got a good personality and is friendly. He’s good with parents. He’s a good, trustworthy, Christian kind of guy, and I think that plays real well in the South. He’s charismatic, smart and a good speaker, and he knows how to flatter people.”
Asked what the biggest downside of Cameron is, Wilson responded he can over-think the game and playcalling from time to time.
“The one thing is he’ll have this tendency where sometimes if something’s working, he won’t stick with it,” continued Wilson. “That’s a little bit of a drawback because (it makes you think) if they can’t stop it then stick with it. But he sort of tries to outsmart himself a little bit by saying ‘I need to adjust or I’m going to adjust because they don’t have the personnel to adjust.’”
Still, all in all, Wilson said he can’t think of a better situation for Cameron, who excels at molding young signal callers and fits right in to the college scene, especially at a place like LSU where there’s no shortage of talent. “When you give him the right personnel, he can kick some butt.”
Wilson finished by stating Cameron shouldn’t require too much assistance to fulfill the duties of his new job, at least as far as in-game involvement from the head coach.
“The offense by itself,” Wilson said, “I don’t think there’s any reason why at the collegiate level Les needs to do anything other than tell Cam, ‘Hey, this is my vision. This is my take. Let’s talk about it. You execute it and I trust you.’
“I think he’s more than qualified to be an offensive coordinator obviously.”
On this topic, given Miles’ past with Gary Crowton and Greg Studrawa, who’s rumored to be staying on as LSU’s offensive line coach, many on the Bayou will want to see it to believe it.
It’s hard to imagine, though, that Miles will ever be able to find someone he trusts or is more familiar with than Cameron.