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First impressions of Shane Beamer as USC head coach? Good job so far, SEC pundits say

South Carolina head coach Shane Beamer took the podium at Southeastern Conference Media Days for the first time as a head coach Monday.

Speaking before a crowd of writers and television reporters, Beamer sped through his 30-minute address at the Wynfrey Hotel in Hoover, Alabama with the poise and precision that has marked his earliest days on the job in Columbia.

The State spoke with a handful of national college football voices to get a gauge on Shane Beamer’s first SEC Media Days appearance and the larger perception of what South Carolina faces in 2021.

—— Ben Portnoy: When you first heard Shane Beamer was going to be South Carolina’s hire, what was your first thought? ——

Cole Cubelic, ESPN/SEC Network analyst: “I think, initially, the thought was ‘Why?’ and because when people who don’t know a lot about a situation they want to see the immediate markers on the resume of head coaching experience, coordinator experience, where you’ve been. But I think one thing that makes him valuable is his network.

I asked him on my show (Tuesday), ‘Why is your network invaluable to get to where you are?’ When you hear him start going through the people that he’s worked with whether it’s Kirby Smart, Ralph Friedgen, whoever — you’re just like, ‘This dude knows everybody.’ We’re almost getting back to where that CEO head coach is becoming the norm again, because you don’t really have time to call plays. Like all these guys want to call plays and say they want to call plays, but Dan Mullins and the Kirby Smarts — those guys almost don’t have time to do that anymore. So you’d better be someone that knows how to manage people and can find good people. There’s going to be a ton of turnover, so you better be able to get the next guy that can also help you find ways to win games. I think that’s a big part of what will make him successful.

I think his personality — he’s a likable guy. I’ve already heard good things from the high school coaches in South Carolina. The media got to know a little bit (Monday) what kind of person he is, how engaging he is and that’s obviously why he’s had success in recruiting. If you take a step back and sort of look at the totality of it, it does make a lot of sense. And then when you think about it, well, he sounds like this in front of a camera, or in front of me or on the phone on my radio show, imagine what it was like in the interview process.”

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Ivan Meisel, national college football reporter, On3 Sports: “You knew Shane was going to be a head coach somewhere. I was impressed South Carolina got him. I thought at the same time, ‘God bless him,’ ‘cause that’s a tough division. He’s got a lot of work to do.”

Tony Barnhart, TMGSports columnist/SEC Network analyst: “The first thought was, ‘Here’s a guy who has paid his dues; who has worked under a lot of great coaches and got experience from Frank Beamer to Lincoln Riley to Kirby Smart to Phillip Fulmer and on and on.’ So here’s a guy who’s ready to be a head coach. Now, you’ve got to take all that wonderful knowledge and your personality and sell yourself and sell the program. I knew that he had the backing of a lot of the former players so I wasn’t surprised. I have a lot of respect for Ray Tanner and I thought it was a good hire.”

Blake Toppmeyer, SEC columnist, USA Today: “My first impression was, ‘I’m not so sure about this hire.’ And also, ’If his last name wasn’t Beamer, would he be getting this job?’ Would his resume be enough off to get this job if he has a different last name?’ That was my first thought. And I also like a lot of people, I wonder this guy’s never been a coordinator before. He’s never been a head coach before. You do wonder where’s the proof that this person can do this job.

I think he steps into a pretty big challenge with what he inherited. I think he’s done a decent job of trying to plug some holes through the transfer portal, but there’s only so much you can do there. I think long term if he proves to be really good recruiter, then he’s got a shot. And I know that’s where part of his reputation is, is being a recruiter. But it’s much different as a head coach. Not only do you have to be a good recruiter, but now you have to be a good CEO. I think we see that sometimes — guys that were good recruiters aren’t good CEOs. Now, I’m not saying he won’t be, but, to me that’s the question. Can he both be a good recruiter and be effective CEO as someone who’s never done it at this level or really any level as a head coach?

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—— BP: A number of people got their first real introduction to Shane Beamer on Monday during his address. How do you think he handled it and how important are first impressions like that? ——

Cole Cubelic: “For him to have that platform, a little bit of stage — a lot of people are going to remember first impressions and what you were like the first time they saw you or how you sounded the first time that they saw you. So I think it’s important. It’s not going to define him by any stretch of the imagination, but I think it’s key to give people a reason to talk about you. You want to give people a reason to like you. That’s going to help in recruiting. That’s going to help building the program.

Will (Muschamp) did a lot of good things to help build the program. To go to the next step, you’ve got to win more games. That’s the bottom line. So it’s good to get people talking about you. It’s good to get people liking you, but I think coach Beamer knows he’s got to go win games if he wants the program to extend.”

Ivan Meisel: “I think people skills in college football coaching are really underrated. Being able to get along with people and being nice to people will help you when you don’t win. I think that just happens to be Shane’s personality and that’s a great asset. But it’s important to have people behind you, because when you start sliding they’ll be there to catch you. If they’re not there, then you keep sliding.”

Tony Barnhart: “I thought he did a great job (Monday) on the podium. He was very confident. You can tell he’s got his message and he delivered a message very well — which is another reason he’s a good recruiter.

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I watched him grow up and when he was hired, I said that, ‘That’s a good hire.’ He’s got all the tools you want. He’s worked under a lot of great coaches. He’s obviously a very good recruiter, and the work he did from a recruiting standpoint when he was with Steve Spurrier, at South Carolina. He checks all the boxes. Now you’ve got to go out and get some players and you’ve got to recruit at a high level. Because the fact of the matter is, you can really recruit well, but you know what? Georgia and Florida are still giving scholarships every year, last I checked.

Some of my South Carolina friends ask, ‘Is Shane Beamer going to be successful?’ and I say, ‘Yes, eventually.’ I appreciate his enthusiasm. I hope they have a great season. I look at that roster and say, ‘There’s a lot of work to do.’ ”

Blake Toppmeyer: “I think for recruiting it can be important, because it’s an opportunity for people that hear from you on a on a big stage. I was impressed with how he handled himself getting across his message. He came across as genuine, which I think is important in recruiting. He came across as polished. I thought it was obvious that he grew up in a football household not only from the questions about his dad, but just the way he carried himself.

You’re always interested to hear first-year coaches. I was interested to see the show he put on. I thought it came across great. It made me think, this guy could be a really good recruiter. I don’t think anything that happens this week really helps you on the field. Talk a good game at the podium, is that going to help you win the battle in the trenches on Saturdays? Maybe not. But I do think it kind of can give you an insight into what type of recruiter this guy could be. If you can communicate well with the media, it usually means you’re just a good communicator. And so that means communicating well with recruits’ families. I think the biggest impression I thought was like, this guy comes across as genuine, polished, and I could see him being a good recruiter.”

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