Monday, January 28, 2008

Six Degrees of RavensNation

Last Thursday, Cam Cameron was hired as the Ravens offensive coordinator, the first major move from new head coach John Harbaugh. As a result, Cam will be sure to have a profound effect on the Ravens fortunes on offense and their overall success during the 2008 season. What may not be as obvious, however, is that although Cam will play a role in determining the Ravens’ future, he has also had a hand in determining much of the Ravens’ past. In the spirit of Kevin Bacon, I present the Six Degrees of Separation between Cam Cameron and RavensNation.

6. Kevin Bacon
First of all, to validate my premise…
  • Cam Cameron played basketball at Indiana University for legendary Coach Bobby Knight.
  • Bobby Knight coached All-American Isaiah Thomas during their 1981 NCAA Championship season.
  • Isaiah Thomas won an NBA title with the Detroit Pistons, on the same team as Dennis Rodman.
  • Dennis Rodman won an NBA title with the Chicago Bulls, on the same team as Michael Jordan.
  • Michael Jordan appeared in a Hanes commercial with Kevin Bacon.

There you go, and in just 5 degrees. Now on to the relevant information.

5. Jim Harbaugh
Cam Cameron coached the other Harbaugh at the University of Michigan during one of the most prolific offensive years in Wolverine history. The 1985 team posted a 10-1-1 record, beat Nebraska 27-23 in the Fiesta Bowl, and finished #2 in the final polls. Harbaugh’s success in Ann Arbor would result in a first round selection in the 1987 draft by the Chicago Bears. Eleven years later Harbaugh would land in Baltimore and for better or worse, the team’s lack of success contributed to the departure of Ted Marchibroda and the arrival of Brian Billick. Two years later, the Ravens were World Champions.

4. Elvis Grbac
While roaming the sidelines alongside Bo Schembechler, Cameron guided Grbac to two Rose Bowl appearances, earning Elvis a chance to make it in the NFL. After a Pro Bowl season in Kansas City, Grbac arrived in Baltimore in 2001 amidst criticism and controversy. The Ravens had just won Super Bowl XXXV and both the fans and the media were less than thrilled with the change at quarterback. Elvis would eventually ‘leave the building’, and the NFL after that season, setting in motion a signal-calling carousel that is still spinning.

3. Philip Rivers
Of course, before the end of Billick’s reign there was one remarkable run in 2006, resulting in a 13-3 record and an AFC North title for the Ravens. There were many memorable moments that year, however, one game on the first day of October may have given the team the confidence it needed to make their march into the post-season. The battle in question was against Cam Cameron’s San Diego Chargers, who would go on to earn the #1 seed in the AFC that season. However, the Chargers weren’t really Cam’s, he just ran the offense, and he had a veteran head coach calling the shots. Marty Schottenheimer made his mark that Sunday, giving new life to the term ‘Marty Ball’ as he and Cameron kept their quarterback, Philip Rivers, under wraps for most of the second half as Rivers threw just 8 passes in the final 30 minutes. Todd Heap’s leap towards the end zone would prove to be the game winner, but the offensive shut down by San Diego played a large part in propelling Baltimore to a bye week of its own.

It’s worth noting that Marty and Cam let Rivers loose during the remainder of the season, resulting in a 14-2 record due in large part to the team’s scoring success. That offensive onslaught was enough to earn Cam the head coaching spot in Miami the following season.

2. Greg Camarillo
The end of the Billick era may have been sealed with a slant route to Greg Camarillo. Camarillo caught a Cleo Lemon strike in overtime and sprinted sixty-four yards to give Cam’s Dolphins their only win of the 2007 season. Of course the one win wasn’t enough to secure his position for 2008, thus making him available to travel north to Baltimore, but the embarrassing loss may have been the nail in the coffin for Coach Billick’s time in the Charm City. Cameron’s ‘Fins did everything they could to allow the Ravens to escape South Florida with a victory, but after opting for OT, Matt Stover missed a field goal attempt which led to Camarillo running Brian out of Baltimore.

1. John Harbaugh
The last link in the chain is a direct connection between Cam Cameron and John Harbaugh. Harbaugh coached under Cam at Indiana in 1997, a forgettable season for both men as the Hoosiers posted a 2-9 record. Their last win together came against the University of Illinois as Harbaugh and the Indiana defense held the Illini to just two Neil Rackers’ field goals (yes, that Neil Rackers). More than ten years later, the two men are now reunited with a chance to plot a new course for the Ravens franchise, which shouldn’t be too hard. After all, Cam Cameron has been guiding the ship for years.

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