HOOVER, Ala. – Upon taking the stage for his turn at SEC Media Day, South Carolina head coach Shane Beamer joked that he was not the first Beamer to take part in the annual event.
His wife Emily once worked the event as a sports information assistant, passing the microphone around to reporters with questions for the respective head coaches.
Although most experts expect the Gamecocks to finish somewhere toward the bottom of the SEC East, Beamer certainly was not short on energy. Beamer provided reporters with the longest opening statement of Day 1, easily surpassing podium predecessors Dan Mullen and Ed Orgeron.
Obviously, with your father being who he is, I’m curious—have you found yourself trying to get out of his shadow, or is it something you’ve embraced and you’re proud to be a part of the lineage of those sorts of accomplishments?
BEAMER: “No, certainly very, very proud of that. Ever since I got into coaching—really you go back to when I was playing high school football, growing up in Blacksburg, Virginia—here were kids I played with who said, The only reason you’re the starting-whatever on the football team or the baseball team is because your dad’s the coach at Virginia Tech.
“Then I got into coaching. Whether it’s right or wrong, I always tried to keep that chip on my shoulder or edge about myself to prove myself for sure. Certainly, I’m very proud of that. I got into coaching in 2000 as a graduate assistant with Georgia Tech with George O’Leary, and part of that was wanting to get out on my own and make my own name and not just go work for my dad as a graduate assistant, and not be Shane Beamer, but to be Frank’s son. It was important for me to go out and develop my own reputation and contacts. I did that, and I was thankful to be part of fantastic programs during that time and places I coached.
“I went back and worked for him. Very, very proud of him. I learned a lot from him. I still rely on him a lot now for advice and things like that as well. I know he’s excited about me being in this position, and excited to be around Columbia quite a bit. also.”
What defines year one success for you, and what’s your plan on getting the Gamecocks back to national relevance?
BEAMER: “Let’s move this program forward today, and let’s try to get better each and every week and be the best we can be at the end of the season, and take our head out of the water, and see where we are at that point. Hopefully, we’re the very best we can be, and we’ve reached our potential for sure.
“Then the plan, I’m not talking about something that hasn’t been done before at South Carolina. In the last ten years, or my last year at South Carolina, we played for the SEC Championship. We beat Alabama when they were No. 1 in the country at Williams-Brice Stadium. We beat Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, and our in-state rival all in the same season. Within the last ten years, we’ve been in the midst of consecutive 11-win seasons. Within the last ten years, we were in the midst of beating our in-state rival five years ago.
“We’re not talking about something that was 40 years ago. It was recently done here in South Carolina. We’re not far from getting back there and doing it again. That’s our plan, not just to get back to that point, but to be better than we’ve ever been. And that’s what we’re working toward every day.”
You mentioned Kevin Harris. I assume you watched a lot of film on him. What made him such a productive back in the SEC, and what improvement do you expect him to make this season?
BEAMER: “Kevin is very tough, very physical. He’s a guy it’s hard for one person to bring down. He’s a downhill runner who’s really worked to improve his game—not just carrying the football, running routes, pass protection, all that stuff.
“We hired a running backs coach in Montario Hardesty who played the position at a high level here in the SEC and in the NFL, and Coach Hardesty has done a great job with Kevin and all of our backs as well, bringing those guys along.
“I think that’s the biggest thing for Kevin: continuing to build up his strength and getting healthy, increasing that durability to be a running back in this league, and we’ve got to be able to help him as well. I hope he has the year he had last year, but I hope we also have other running backs who do that as well to help lessen the load, also.”
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