COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Shane Beamer has a lot of eyes on him as he opens his first fall camp as South Carolina's football coach — including a few in his own family.
Beamer had gone to South Carolina's coast for a couple of days of rest and family fun before camp's start when 8-year-old son Hunter advised him, “Try not to get fired this year."
“True story. I wish that was a joke,” Beamer grinned Thursday.
Beamer welcomes all the scrutiny as a first-time head coach hoping to re-energize a program that's gone 2-16 (and 5-13 in the Southeastern Conference) the past two years. The son of Virginia Tech great Frank Beamer has assisted several successful coaches like Steve Spurrier with the Gamecocks, Kirby Smart at Georgia, Lincoln Riley at Oklahoma and even his dad with the Hokies.
Beamer believes he's ready for the challenge of bringing the Gamecocks back to the winning ways they had under Spurrier when they went 11-2 for three consecutive seasons from 2011-13.
He understands it won't be easy. But has approached each day since taking over as a chance to get better. Beamer met with his team Thursday and the group will hit the field for their opening practice Friday as they prep for a home game with Eastern Illinois on Sept. 4.
Beamer's emotions have risen as fall camp grew closer.
“I would say overly excited,” Beamer said. “But I'm trying to pace myself a little bit.”
That may be hard for the coach's son. He popped up at 4:15 a.m. Thursday morning and couldn't fall back asleep, so he just headed into the office to refine plans he’d said he’d completed in May.
There was always excitement in past years for Beamer, 44, when preparing to coach linebackers at South Carolina, running backs at Virginia Tech or tight ends at Oklahoma in the past. “Now, there's just so many things on your mind,” Beamer said.
Beamer's father, Frank, sounds much more positive than his grandson about Shane's chances at success. The elder Beamer, who will served as a resource for his son with the Gamecocks, believes Shane is ahead of his old man at similar spots in their careers.
“I look at him and I see a guy that’s way ahead of me,” Frank Beamer said. "He really, I think, does a good job.”
Shane Beamer had a huge job early, convincing a struggling team that went through the mid-season dismissal of Will Muschamp that better days could come sooner rather than later.
He told the team that would ask for their trust at that first meeting, but would work each day to earn and prove himself.
Sophomore quarterback Luke Doty, the starter at the end of last year, said Beamer's approach won over players who wanted something to believe in after last year's problems. '
“I don't think it took very long for us to pick up what he brings to the table,” Doty said. “I think he's got a real sense of confidence. Where he steps in he brings a real sense of positive energy.”
Offensive line coach Greg Adkins, who had worked for Phil Fulmer at Tennessee, had talked with Frank Beamer in the past and saw the same, friendly, family first manner in Shane when he interviewed for a spot on the staff.
“When I got the call, it didn't take me more than three seconds to say, ‘Yes,’” to Beamer's offer, Adkins said. “I had a vision of what this thing was going to look like and it's starting to look like that.”
As Beamer pointed out several times Thursday, there are many, many hurdles to jump before the Gamecocks are to play winning football. But he's got a plan, honed from years watching successful leaders, that he believes can work for the Gamecocks.
“Like Coach Spurrier would say, talking season is over,” Beamer said. “It's real and it began today.”
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