LSU offensive coordinator Cam Cameron was diagnosed with prostate cancer and has been given a clean bill of health, he revealed Friday.
Cameron plans to continue as offensive coordinator, and he will coach the 2015 season after receiving successful treatment.
“I’m fine. My health is good,” Cameron said at a news conference Friday. “I’ve been given a clean bill of health.”
The news came eight days before the Tigers open the 2015 season at home against McNeese State. The Advocate reported the news Friday afternoon, about an hour before Cameron announced it publicly at an impromptu evening news conference.
Cameron, 54, is starting his third season as LSU’s quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator. He’s in the final year of a contract that pays him $1.5 million.
“A long time before this day, we knew great news,” head coach Les Miles said. “He’s ready to go.”
Cameron said the treatment lasted four weeks and did not involve radiation. He had a “procedure” and received the cancer-free news “about two weeks ago.”
“There are very few limitations, and I should be completely 100 percent by Monday,” Cameron said. “We’re good. We’re ready to roll. All of our goals are intact: win the SEC and heading toward a national championship.”
Cameron’s diagnosis came four years after former LSU offensive coordinator Steve Kragthorpe was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease just before the 2011 season, his first with the program. He relinquished OC duties and served as quarterbacks coach in 2011 and 2012 before moving into an administrative role.
Then-LSU offensive line coach Greg Studrawa replaced Kragthorpe as LSU’s play caller but was replaced by Cameron after the 2012 season.
Miles said Cameron’s issues have been “less disruptive,” but the coach stopped short of saying Cameron has attended every practice this preseason. Players were told earlier this month about the cancer and were pressed to keep the news under wraps.
“That’s what they did, and I’m proud of them,” Miles said.
Cameron’s diagnosis sent shockwaves through the football community — professional and collegiate.
Cameron, an Indiana graduate from North Carolina and a lifelong friend of Miles’, is a 30-year coaching veteran with stops as offensive coordinator with the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens and San Diego Chargers. He served as head coach for five seasons at Indiana, ending in 2001, and for one season with the Miami Dolphins in 2007.
“A very, very good person. Best wishes to Cameron,” longtime Sports Illustrated NFL reporter Peter King tweeted.
Cameron survived melanoma as a 28-year-old, according to an ESPN story published in 2010, but there were no other signs that he was sick.
“It’s serious, and I’m not belittling anything,” Cameron said. “But there will probably be a time and place, maybe after the season, when we can talk further about it. Right now, I do appreciate your concern.”
Only a close-knit bunch of LSU supporters and employees were aware of the news until Friday. LSU assistant coaches are only available to speak with reporters two to three times per year. Cameron last spoke to reporters at the team’s annual media day Aug. 16. He spoke at length, hanging around as the last assistant coach to leave the indoor practice facility.
Reporters were allowed to watch a 10- to 20-minute portion of the first four days of camp earlier this month. Cameron worked with the quarterbacks in his normal fashion and even joked with a cameraman before one set of drills.
“It’s football,” Cameron said Friday. “We’re locked and loaded, and we’ve got a game coming up. Coach Miles has got us dialed in.”
Cameron and wife Missy have four children, including former Catholic High quarterback Danny Cameron, who walked on at Indiana last year.
“Over the last few weeks, the support from this program and our players and Coach Miles and our staff, I’ve never experienced anything quite like it,” Cameron said. “It’s been awesome for me and my family.”
Cameron has tutored some recognizable names, including Saints quarterback Drew Brees, dual-threat Antwaan Randle El and Ravens star Joe Flacco. Cameron spent five years with the Ravens.
In 2013, his first year at LSU, Cameron’s offense racked up the second-most yardage total in school history (5,893), and the Tigers set a school record for total offense with 453.3 yards per game en route to a 10-3 mark. LSU became first team in SEC history with a 3,000-yard passer (Zach Mettenberger), two 1,000-yard receivers (Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr.) and a 1,000-yard rusher (Jeremy Hill) in the same season.
In Year 2, Cameron’s unit struggled. Sophomore quarterback Anthony Jennings limped to a 48.9 percent completion percentage, and true freshman Brandon Harris went 3-for-14 in his lone start. LSU finished 116th in passing offense among 128 Football Bowl Subdivision teams, averaging just 162 yards through the air.
LSU’s offense and its quarterback drama have been in fans’ crosshairs for much of the offseason. The consensus among national prognosticators and reporters: LSU could make a title run if its QB issues get resolved.
As recently as Thursday, ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit picked the Tigers to win the Southeastern Conference and qualify for the College Football Playoff.
Harris has “the lead” for the starting job in a fight that began when the highly touted product arrived in January 2014. He is expected to start against McNeese State next week, but Miles indicated on his radio show earlier this week that both players will play early in the season.
Follow Ross Dellenger on Twitter: @DellengerAdv.