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Hobbs Column: Cameron knew exactly what he was getting into

Last Modified: Saturday, August 17, 2013 11:04 PM

By Scooter Hobbs / American Press

It turns out that Cam Cameron has played wing man for Les Miles before.

He denies a rumor that, when both were assistant coaches at Michigan, it was Cameron who set up Miles with his wife, Kathy.

But it might have been Cameron who kept them together as an item in the athletic department — Kathy was an assistant women’s basketball coach — and set up the happy marriage.

Maybe it was the dreaded Miles’ time management thing rearing its head again that night.

But Les had apparently left Kathy hanging at some engagement or another — Cameron doesn’t remember what it was — and she was fairly well fuming.

But Cameron was there, he and Kathy talked it out, and they came to realize that it was all just a big foul-up in communications.

“I was somewhat conciliatory in my comments,” Cameron recalled.

So it all worked out. Cameron eventually stood at the Miles wedding — a party of groomsmen that also included future LSU head coach Gerry DiNardo — and the Miles’ have been living happily ever after ever since, with four children to show for it.

LSU fans, of course, are hoping Cameron can now do for Miles’ offense what he once did for his love life, which is to save it.

He will be Miles’ fourth offensive coordinator in nine years at LSU, and he brings easily the best credentials. So the biggest question is pretty simple: Will Miles stay away from him, not meddle in the offense, and let him work his magic?

That’s the perception at least, along with the notion that Miles does keep his nose out of the defense and lets John Chavis do his thing (and look at the success the defense has had).

LSU is known, for better or worse, for defense, defense, defense, and an offense that tries to stay out of the way. If Miles wasn’t butting in, goes the theory, surely the Tigers would throw deep on every play, score on most of them, and everybody in the cheap seats would be happy.

But Cameron says it’s not that simple.

He will be calling the plays. He makes that clear. He relishes it. He thinks he’s good at it, been doing it a long time, both in college and the NFL.

Call it the “right stuff” in coaching.

“Late in games, when the game’s on the line, headsets get real silent,” he said with a certain cocksure relish. “I know those moments are coming, and that’s what I’m getting paid to do. Everybody has input, but ultimately, I’m charged with making the call.

“But I want his (Miles’) input. That’s the only way I know how to do it.”

Same thing when he was a head coach, at Indiana and with the Miami Dolphins. He had play-callers — and he had input, presumably even veto power.

He’s called plays all over the map, including for the Washington Redskins, San Diego Chargers and, until getting canned in December of last year, the Baltimore Ravens.

“Marty Schottenheimer had suggestions for me, John Harbaugh had suggestions for me. Every head coach I’ve worked with had input.”

LSU skeptics might want to skip the next quote.

“Les has tremendous input. I enjoy his input. That’s part of what attracted me to the job.”

Miles likely knew the moment that Cameron became available that he would be going after him.

Cameron said it was almost uncanny the way the two were on the same page offensively when they were cutting their coaching teeth as young assistants under Bo Schembechler at Michigan.

They’ve stayed in touch over the years.

Cameron knew exactly what he was getting into when he took the job at LSU.

The truth is, Miles probably never has meddled with the offense as much as the fans have always believed.

And what input he has had surely wasn’t the entire problem.

But it’s simple why the head coach has to have the play-caller’s ear.

“Les will have a great feel for how the game is unfolding,” Cameron said.

That’s the head coach’s job. Defensive coaches are worrying about stopping an offense. Offensive coaches are trying to get past a defense.

“They (head coaches) see,” Cameron said. “They have a feel for how the game is unfolding. I’m not going to be sitting there watching our defense, I won’t necessarily know all of our special teams’ calls. I watch it to a degree, but my job is to get with our offensive staff and get some things worked out.”

Somebody has to have an eye on the game as a whole.

• • •

Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at shobbs@americanpress.com

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