South Carolina football: CBS Sports ranks top head coaching hires

Dennis Dodd isn’t high on the Beamer hire.

South Carolina football just wrapped up its 2021 Spring practice season, and now will turn their attention to getting ready for the opener in early September. The Gamecocks are being led for the first time by head coach Shane Beamer, who seems to have breathed new life into the program following back-to-back losing campaigns.

Though there appears to be a cautious optimism among Gamecock supporters, others around the country still have their doubts to whether Beamer can turn things around in Columbia. One of those doubters is Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports, who recently graded each of college football’s new hires ahead of the upcoming season.

Of the 15 coaches named in the article, Beamer received the lowest grade, a “C-.” He was listed below fellow SEC newcomers Josh Heupel, Bryan Harsin, and Clark Lea, as well as previously fired SEC leaders Terry Bowden, Butch Jones, and Gus Malzahn.

Here’s what Dodd had to say in his evaluation of Beamer.

Frank Beamer’s son is one of the most talented and likeable guys on his way up the ladder. But Shane has never even been a coordinator. There were defections galore upon his hiring. Two defenders transferred to Florida State. Leading tackler Ernest Jones declared for the draft…The top two quarterbacks departed. For a program that is losing traction in the SEC — 6-16 in the last two seasons — Beamer can’t afford any more slippage.

Dodd makes a few good points, most notably, the fact that Beamer has never been a coordinator, much less a head coach. He’s not had the responsibility of leading a complete unit, or making game time decisions that influence the outcome of a game or season. To make things worse, his first experience as a leader comes with a Gamecock program that’s won just six contests in the last two years combined, and saw a mass exodus of top contributors following the 2020 season.

While Beamer doesn’t hop into the best initial situation, he has been able to make a positive impact in his short time on campus. The head coach hired a solid staff, brought in a handful of immediate contributors from the transfer portal, and has integrated flawlessly with the team and fanbase. As Dodd notes, Beamer is a talented and likeable character, and he’s shown a willingness to learn at each of his previous stops, having studied under some of college football’s best on each side of the ball, including Steve Spurrier, Lincoln Riley, Kirby Smart, and his father, Frank.

The time spent with his dad, the head coach at Virginia Tech for 29 years and program’s all-time leader in wins, had to have prepared him for this opportunity. Having seen what it takes to lead a successful, sustainable program will only help him with future coaching decisions.

Beamer’s likeability has also translated to the recruiting trail, where the Gamecocks recently landed four-star signal caller Braden Davis, moving the South Carolina class into the top 35 nationally. A former recruiting coordinator, this is an area where he can excel, and it may provide the quickest path to success.

South Carolina is hoping that Beamer’s character and college football knowledge will yield wins. Though the major knock is his lack of coordinator experience, calling plays isn’t a prerequisite for positive results. Look no further than Will Muschamp, who was widely considered the game’s top defensive coordinator, but fell flat in two chances as a head coach.

What the Gamecocks really need from Beamer is for him to manage the program, and continue to embrace the future. He’s painted the University of South Carolina in a positive light thus far, providing a vision to what the program can achieve. The next step will be turning those visions into a reality on the field.