The Journal Gazette
Wednesday, March 16, 2016 6:56 pm

Ex-IU coach finds fit with LSU

Chris Goff The Journal Gazette

High above the field during Tuesday’s Music City Bowl, tucked away in the press box with a headset and notes galore, will be Cam Cameron.

Just a man and his work.

Cameron, who coached Indiana for five seasons from 1997 through 2001, soldiers on in a brutal profession, now 53 and in his second season as LSU’s offensive coordinator.

Cameron has been fired twice in the past seven years, and criticism has been leveled against him over the past few months by antsy Tigers fans.

Entering the clash between No. 22 LSU (8-4) and Notre Dame (7-5) at LP Field in Nashville, Tennessee, Cameron hasn’t been made available for interviews.

However, his lone public comments this month – made in a talk at the Greater New Orleans Quarterback Club – revealed why Cameron’s latest gig may be the right one.

Where he chooses to operate on game days has a lot to do with his boss, LSU coach Les Miles, the Mad Hatter.

"In the NFL, I was always on the sideline," Cameron said. "I’m in the booth. Everybody says, ‘Why aren’t you on the field?’ Well, I have a guy on the sideline I trust more than any I have ever worked with."

For a man who’s been in tough situations, that high level of comfort is key.

In Bloomington, Cameron’s name is synonymous with Antwaan Randle El, the quarterback who finished sixth in the Heisman Trophy voting in Cameron’s last year. Cameron still went 18-37 in his tenure.

In the NFL, Cameron’s name is synonymous with 1-15, his record in his first season as head coach of the Miami Dolphins in 2007. He never got a second season.

There were more bad times to come – Cameron was dismissed late in the 2012 season as Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator – and there are choppy times now.

Playing two young quarterbacks, LSU has scored more points than only one team in the Southeastern Conference (Vanderbilt).

"On our quarterbacks, I’ve got to be honest with myself first," Cameron said. "I think I could have done a better job. I’m evaluating how I’m teaching. I’ve got to do better.

"Creative is something we all want to be as offensive coaches. Nobody wants to be the coordinator (whose) offense is like watching paint dry. I understand, but at the same time, when you’re trying to establish a foundation with young guys, sometimes you’ve got to be smart."

For Cameron, a 1983 IU graduate and two-sport letterman for the Hoosiers, there are two big reasons to smile.

Danny Cameron, a quarterback like his dad was, walked on at IU this season, and there is hope he does more than just carry on the family name.

"We’re pleased with him," Indiana coach Kevin Wilson said last month. "Sometimes you like to be a dad and not coach your kids, so I don’t know how much Cam really coached his kids.

"He (Danny) is very football smart."

And then there is Miles, a friend since he and Cameron each were assistants at Michigan from 1987 to 1993.

"We’ve worked, I think, over the years together well," Cameron said. "And great head coaches understand how to work with a play-calling coordinator."

So maybe the LSU job is Cameron’s happy ending.

"We are excited about this bowl game," Cameron said. "Nothing better for us than to have a great win against Notre Dame, although that is going to be difficult."

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