Cam Cameron Q/A
LSU’s offensive coordinator opens up about Baltimore firing, Super Bowl rings, and sharing an office with Les Miles
Call him Candid Cam.
After a brief session in front of cameras Friday afternoon (which you can read about HERE), LSU’s new offensive coordinator Cam Cameron shook off the pressure of the lights and opened up with reporters about a myriad of topics.
In his first chat with local beat writers, Cameron spoke frankly and sincerely about his unforeseen sacking in Baltimore, his days sharing a tiny office with Les Miles in Michigan, and his plans for Tiger QB Zach Mettenberger.
Here is the transcript from a portion of that conversation.
Q: What would you say is the biggest reason John [Harbaugh] let you go [in Baltimore]?
A: First of all, I had five tremendous years there. Obviously, we won a ton of football games. At some point in time, a change might need to be made. Obviously, they felt like that needed to be done. I think there was maybe a little bit of a set back. Ray Rice said it best. Quoting him, it was a wake up call. I think what Les said is true: Good is not good enough. We’re aiming to try to be great. Sometimes you’ve got to do something to get people to move in a different direction to try to be great. It’s a great group of guys. I couldn’t be happier for them. They made me through the whole process feel a part of it. It was really unsolicited from my part, but they were phenomenal through the whole process.
Q: You’ve gotten to coach Ray Rice and LaDanian Tomlinson. What have you seen from Jeremy Hill and the LSU running back corps?
I’ve gotten out of the habit of comparing guys, because you talk about those two — Ray and LaDainian. Obviously, this is a very talented young man. I have not met him yet. I’m looking forward to sitting down with him. I’ll get with him in the next couple of days. I’m looking forward to watching how he works, how he goes about getting better. I think any young player knows you have to keep getting better, especially in this conference and this division. Obviously, great athleticism. Looks like he has the ability to catch a lot of balls, can catch extremely well. I’ve heard good things about his hands. It’s a good group. You can’t have too many good running backs.
Q: You were a guy who was mentioned for a couple of other NFL offensive coordinator positions. Were you involved with talking with someone else, or is it something you kind of knew for a while you wanted to end up at LSU?
A: Well, number one, in my mind and my family’s mind, we sat down with the kids and my wife, Missy, of 27 years. At this stage in my career, it’s a family decision…It’s a special opportunity for us, and probably none better.
Q: You talked about coming in with your ears open. You’ve got two returning quarterbacks in Mettenberger and Rivers. You also have two true freshmen in here. What’s your role in preparing those guys for spring practice?
Well, we’re going to get through the next two or three days, and I want to sit down and talk with them first. To simplify it, it’s to help them become as good as they can be. I’m going to reacquaint myself with all the NCAA time rules, making sure…we are all on the same page on what we can and cannot do. I owe it to them to allow them all become great players and to let them compete. I’ve never been around a great player that was afraid of competition. There’s going to be great competition in that room, there’s going to be great competition at every position on offense. With those guys specifically at quarterbacks, it’s just a matter of getting them as good as they can be.
Q: Is there open competition for [the quarterback] position, or is it Zach Mettenberger’s heading into 2013?
A: I don’t think it’s the right time for me to speak to that. I think I’ll let Les speak to that. I’m sure he can address that sometime in the spring. I just want to get Zach as good as he can be and build on what Steve’s done with him…That’s why you have spring practice. You can’t have too many good quarterbacks, because the backup is one play away from being the starter, the third team guys is two plays away. So we’re going to get them all as good as they can be.
Q: What’s your role in recruiting going to be?
A: It’s not defined yet. We’re right in the middle of that process…we had our first recruiting meeting this morning, and then came straight over here. I’ll be involved just like the other guys.
Q: You mentioned that you miss recruiting…what do you miss about it?
A: I don’t know that I would say I miss anything about it, but it’s an unbelievable opportunity. Think about it. You get a chance to travel, could be coast to coast and sit in a young man’s living room, and talk about LSU. This is a world-class opportunity. I’ve known that for a long time, and now I’m seeing that even more. I’ve got three sons of my own who are all teenagers, and to think someone can come into your home and afford you an opportunity to come, and to think highly enough of you as a player and a young man to represent this university, to me, that’s exciting. One thing that’s clear: We recruit as a staff. It’s team recruiting. It’s not one guy trying to out-recruit another. I’m excited about being a part of that. The guys already know I’m going to be visiting with all of them, talking about getting better as a recruiter. The things they do best, in state, out of state, going against this school, going against that school, just learning the process and doing my part.
Q: What made this opportunity special that you took it, as opposed to waiting around for a professional opportunity?
A: That’s a great question, because we have had a ton of discussions. It’s unique for us, because our discussions aren’t just about football, X’s, O’s, offense, team from a head coaching perspective, our families. For most things in life for me, it’s never been about my timing. I just think these things came together for a certain reason, and the timing couldn’t have been better.
Q: You shared an office with him [at Michigan]. Take us back to that. What was it like sharing an office with [Les]?
A: One of the great memories. He hadn’t married Kathy yet. I was married, and he wasn’t. The room literally was about as big as where we are standing. No window, and there was no texting back then. So every phone conversation was open. You can get to know a guy pretty darn well. I know exactly what I have an opportunity to be a part of here. It’s based on what he’s built.
Q: You can decipher his particular manner of speaking too, right?
A: I certainly can. Maybe that might be the only thing I know that you guys don’t know. So I may have a little something on you guys there.
Q: You had feelers from pro teams. A lot of guys who go to the pros end up staying in the pros. Were you looking for a college opportunity, or if this didn’t pan out, you might not have been looking for another college opportunity?
A: This is the college opportunity, for all the reasons we’ve talked about. But I meant what I said. How can you not be in love with where the college game is right now and where it’s going? It’s a great, great, great game. College football has always been good, but in my view, and I think a lot of people’s view, it’s never been better…There’s a lot of great things about the NFL, especially with the Baltimore Ravens, because of the kind of people they bring there…I cannot say enough good things about the people I worked with in Baltimore or the kind of players you get to coach there, top to bottom. LSU is the same way.
Q. Are you getting a ring?
A: Good question. I got a text from John Harbaugh the other day after his statement. It said, “Hey, by the way, I need that ring size.” Actually, I’ll probably stop by the equipment office and get my ring size and send it up there.
Q: Where did you watch the game, and can you talk about your emotions during it?
A: At that point, two months had gone by. Nothing but joy. I coached Jim Harbaugh on the other side. When you’ve got most of the offensive guys texting you before the game or from the locker room of the game and coaches texting you on a bus on the way over, it’s a first class group. Decisions like that don’t destroy relationships. I’m not going to let that happen.
Q: Where did you watch the game?
A: Actually, I had been asked to go work some quarterbacks out in California that Monday. So I was in San Diego with some really good friends that Sunday.
Q: You mentioned that you’ve seen all the games. What do you like in Zach?
A: I’ll give you a little background first. I’ve been hearing about Zach for over four years now from one of the best quarterback scouts in the NFL, Joe Hortiz. Joe Hortiz started talking to me about him right when he came out of high school. He said, “There’s a guy coming up we need to keep an eye on.” And some things transpired and he said, “You know, he’s going to LSU.” He knew that before I did. I’ve been watching him now for quite some time, and then he springs on the scene here. Until I know what his thought process is, it’s best guess. You watch a guy’s tape, you see him doing something good, the guy can be doing something we think is really good for the exact wrong reason. And then he can be doing something that doesn’t look real pretty to all of us on tape, but he’s doing it for the right reason. Until I can, I’d like to reserve judgment on that until I can sit down with him, have him take me through some tape, and have him explain his thinking to me and see the why’s of why he does what he does. I’m going to start challenging him to be as good as he can be, and see where that takes him. There’s obviously a lot of talent there to work with.