South Carolina Football: Shane Beamer disrespected by national media rankings

South Carolina football Head Coach Shane Beamer and his team continue to be doubted despite improving every season. [Corey Perrine/Florida Times-Union]
South Carolina football Head Coach Shane Beamer and his team continue to be doubted despite improving every season. [Corey Perrine/Florida Times-Union] /

South Carolina football is on the rise under head coach Shane Beamer. The Gamecocks won just 2 games in the final year of the Will Muschamp era but rebounded with 7 victories in 2021 and 8 wins in 2022. Beamer has completely overhauled the culture around the program, and the national perception of the Gamecocks is as high as it’s been in almost a decade.

Recruiting at South Carolina is not an easy task as the Gamecocks share a state with Clemson and are within 500 miles of recruiting powerhouses like Georgia, Florida, Florida State, Alabama, Auburn, Tennessee, and North Carolina. Still, Shane Beamer and his staff have put together a valiant recruiting effort that has the Gamecock roster ready to compete.

A top-16 finish in the 2023 recruiting rankings culminated with a South Carolina football victory in the recruitment of 5-star Nyckoles Harbor, and the 2024 class should be even better for the Gamecocks. If 5-star Dylan Stewart joins the fold (he is seemingly deciding between South Carolina and Ohio State), a top-10 recruiting ranking seems inevitable.

However, despite fixing the culture, winning on the field, and building a solid future, Shane Beamer isn’t getting the love he deserves as a head coach.

On Thursday, CBS Sports’ Barrett Sallee released his preseason coaches rankings, and Beamer placed 9th in the SEC and 40th nationally (while Sallee headed up the SEC list, Tom Fornelli was in charge of the national ranking, and both lists were put together in conjunction with the rest of the CBS college football analyst team).

Beamer has not yet earned a spot in the conference’s top-5 as Nick Saban, Kirby Smart, and Brian Kelly stand out in the top-3 and Lane Kiffin and Josh Heupel have done tremendous jobs at Ole Miss and Tennessee, respectively.

9th-place, however, is too low. Mark Stoops, Jimbo Fisher, and Hugh Freeze round out the list of 8 coaches ahead of Beamer in these rankings, and one can argue that none of them should be ahead of Shane Beamer.

Mark Stoops has done more with less at Kentucky and should be commended for it, but two AP top-25 finishes in a decade isn’t worth the 6th spot in Sallee’s rankings.

Jimbo Fisher has had a great career as a coach, but Texas A&M fans want him fired for how things fell apart in College Station in 2022.

And, Hugh Freeze? He hasn’t coached in the Power-5 since 2016 when he was fired from Ole Miss for rampant cheating and other misconduct.

The national list ranking of 40th is even more egregious as names like Mario Cristobal (39th), Steve Sarkisian (37th), Gus Malzahn (34th), Jonathan Smith (32nd), Matt Rhule (27th), Dave Doeren (25th), Bret Bielema (21st), and Mike Norvell (19th) were all place ahead of South Carolina football’s headman.

This is, to say the least, disrespectful to Shane Beamer.

Cristobal lost to Middle Tennessee State last season, and his Miami Hurricanes were blown out by 24+ points on four separate occasions despite high preseason expectations.

Sarkisian is a good offensive coach, but his Texas team has been known for being “soft” and has a worse record in a worse conference (while having more talent) than South Carolina during Sark’s two seasons in Austin.

Malzahn is certainly not a bad coach, but his UCF squads have one more loss than Shane Beamer’s team during his two seasons at the helm, and the last time anyone checked, American Conference schedules don’t compare to SEC play.

Jonathan Smith has had three losing seasons (including two 2-win campaigns) and two winning seasons at Oregon State. It’s a tough job in Corvallis, no doubt, but one AP top-25 ranking in five seasons isn’t worth being ranked as the 32nd-best coach in America, is it?

After a great college career with Temple and Baylor, Matt Rhule failed miserably with the Carolina Panthers in the NFL. He is ranked entirely too high considering he was out of the college game for three seasons and is taking over at one of the most difficult jobs in the Big 10 (that’s a wild thing to say about a historic Nebraska program, but it’s true).

Dave Doeren has had a fair amount of on-field success at NC State, but a good portion of his own fanbase doesn’t even think he is a good coach.

Bret Bielema has won fewer games than Shane Beamer as both coaches have been at their current schools for the same amount of time. The Illini have also beaten exactly one ranked team in the past two seasons, something the Gamecocks bested just in last season’s final two weeks. Plus, just ask Arkansas fans how good of a coach Bielema actually is.

Mike Norvell has been the head coach at Florida State for three seasons, and two of those years are two of the worst years in recent program history. Sure, some of that is Willie Taggert’s fault, but one good season at a traditional power that recruits for itself shouldn’t put Norvell in the top-20.

Shane Beamer is still early in his tenure as the South Carolina football head coach, but the results have spoken for themselves. If/when the Gamecocks put together another good year in 2023, the disrespect will (hopefully) stop.