Cameron, in happier days - Andy Lyons
Our resident Baltimore native weighs in on the ex-Ravens OC
There isn't an official announcement yet, but it is an open secret that LSU has hired Cam Cameron as the new offensive co-ordinator. ESPN 104.5 radio is confirming the news, and SB Nation HQ is just going with it. I doubt we'll see an official announcement until early next week because, MARDI GRAS! WOO!!, but it appears the deal is done.
1:30 CST Edit: An actual LSU beat reporter, Jim Kleinpeter, is now confirming the deal. My tongue-in-cheek headline is becoming a little less tongue-in-cheek. Billy will have full analysis later.
As a displaced Baltimorean writing for an LSU site, I can offer a fairly unique perspective on Cameron. He's been running the offense for my favorite pro team for five years now, and now he's headed to my alma mater. So, first thoughts?
I really like him. He's been the OC in Baltimore since 2008, and I think everyone has blocked out just how terrible the Ravens offense was before he got there. OK, he got there the same time Flacco did, which certainly helped the team's production, but the Ravens went from a great defensive team held back by a truly inept offense to a team carried by its offense. Cameron has to get some of the credit for that.
Now, he was in a very public fight with the franchise QB, and there's a short list of head coaches who can win that fight in the modern NFL, and about zero offensive co-ordinators. As soon as he lost Flacco, as was inevitable, Cameron's days were numbered in Baltimore. That's also a scenario that would play out entirely differently in college, where the player lacks the kind of leverage Flacco had. Five years is a long time to stay at an OC job in the NFL, so it was time for him to go anyway. However, imagine what would happen in a spat between a coach and a QB in college. Think LSU would side with Mettenberger over any of the coaches?
And what does Cameron know about quarterbacks anyway? He only coached up Drew Brees, Philip Rivers, and Antwaan Randle-El (seriously, he made Indiana's offense competent). Here's what Drew Brees said about him
He was huge. Cam was huge in my career. I was with him for four years. He was the offensive coordinator while I was in San Diego for those last four years.
That was a time in my career where during that stretch I got benched three or four times, they ended up drafting Philip Rivers. Cam was pretty much the one who broke the news to me. My postseason exit meeting with him after the '03 season I went in his office, shut the door and (he said) I'm just telling you they're either going to go out and get a free agent veteran quarterback to come in here or they're going to draft a rookie high to compete with you. Just get ready for that. I feel like he was always very honest with me. He always did things to try to get the best out of me. There was a time or two where we would butt heads, but I think that was all part of the process of him trying to mold me into the type of quarterback he knew I could be, the type of person he knew I could be, leader and I appreciate him for that.
I love the man. I think he's a great coach and obviously I had a lot of great years with him.
Who you gonna trust? Ravens fans or Drew f'n Brees?
Cameron's been successful wherever he's gone, and in 11 seasons in the NFL, he's only had two below average offenses (his first year in San Diego and his only year in Miami). He's had an offense that was at least in the top half of the NFL every other year. He's a NFL guy with a long track record of success at places that previously had terrible offenses. He also is a known QB guru who counts one of the best QB's in football among his pupils. He turned GUS FREROTTE into a Pro Bowler, and convinced the league Trent Green was a good QB. His biggest issue is something that likely could never happen in college football. So... what's not to like?
Hell, he even runs an offense that fits our personnel. He relies a lot on pass catching running backs and the tight end position. Remember, it was Cameron who turned an unheralded former basketball player and undrafted free agent into a Pro Bowler (Antonio Gates). In Baltimore, he relied heavily on Todd Heap, and then transitioned into the Pitta era. DeSean Smith should be giving high fives right now. Also, look at the receivers he's had: by NFL standards, pretty mediocre. He had scrubs in DC, and a pretty ordinary crew in both San Diego and Baltimore. Yet he still churned out productive offenses. Remind you of anyone's roster?
Oh, and he has ties to Miles, as both are Michigan Men. I can't think of one thing about this hire I don't like. That doesn't mean it will work. Remember, I liked the Trent Johnson hiring, too. But honestly, does anyone think that hiring an OC with a decade-long track record of NFL success who also has a deserved rep as a QB guru is a bad hire? This is as close to a home run hire as we could possibly get.
I'm excited. Are you excited?