Via Michigan Sports Center, the "Rumor Mill" at Pro Football Talk is reporting that U-M AD Bill Martin wants to pursue Cam if the Dolphins fire him. I suppose I shouldn't wish an IU alum ill. Cam worked hard at IU and couldn't get the Hoosiers over the hump. I'm sure his failure at IU bothers him more than it bothers me. But I didn't like the spin from some in the Cameron camp. Here's an example, some comments by Cameron's stepfather, former Indiana State coach Tom Harp:
"I had some reservations," Harp said of his stepson taking the Indiana job. "But Cam is one of those guys, if he's going down the street and sees a pile of horse manure, he'll go digging in it because he thought there was a pony in there. He aggravates me sometimes, he's so positive. He won't let anybody get him down."
Nice. While this was the only quote I could find online, I do recall other comments by Cameron supporters after the firing about how IU is a no win situation. Certainly, I understand that objectively, IU is, at best, the tenth-best job in the Big Ten and probably is 11th, depending on whether one considers Northwestern's last 13 years a trend or an aberration. Still, no one was demanding that Cam go to the Rose Bowl in year one. Cameron had a full five years at IU, including the last four quarterbacked by one of the most productive players in the history of college football, and couldn't land so much as one Music City Bowl bid.
Cameron started at IU in 1997, the same year that three other Big Ten programs hired coaches: Ron Turner at Illinois, Glen Mason at Minnesota, and Joe Tiller at Purdue. While Illinois had been to a bowl game as recently as 1994, the other two programs that hired new coaches that year had been down for a while. Purdue had not had a bowl bid or a winning season since 1984. Minnesota had not had a winning season since 1990 or a bowl bid since 1986. IU? The Hoosiers had last had a winning season in 1994 and a bowl bid in 1993, the last of six bowl bids in eight years. Cam Cameron's first IU roster included players who had been part of winning teams. Again, I realize that IU is not a plum job, but neither are the expectations sky-high. Cam could have bought himself a couple of more years with a minor bowl bid with an extremely talented team in 2001. By the time Cam was fired in 2001 after five losing seasons, the other three Big Ten schools that hired coaches in 1997 had received a combined 10 bowl bids, including BCS appearances by Illinois and Purdue. In the age of 85 scholarships and 25+ bowl games, an occasional bowl appearance is not too much to ask, regardless of a program's history.
Despite Cam's failure at IU, it has been my impression over the years that many Michigan folks hold Cam in fairly high esteem. I believe he is given some credit for Michigan's late 1980s transition from a traditional Big Ten offense into a modern-day cradle of quarterbacks. That's all fine and good, but I think Cam's skills are best suited to being an assistant coach. Perhaps he's like Mike Martz, a good offensive mind who is better off without the responsibility of making all of the HC decisions (and with someone looking over his shoulder). Perhaps he would prove me wrong, but I think Michigan would regret hiring Cam Cameron.