‘It was in the cards we would be here one day’: Meet new South Carolina coach Shane Beamer

NCAAF

The signs were everywhere for Frank Beamer as he carved out his own Hall of Fame coaching career.

And, yes, most fathers are biased when it comes to their sons. But there was no doubt in Beamer’s mind that his son, Shane, would one day be a head coach.

Today is that day as Shane will be introduced later Monday as South Carolina’s 36th head football coach.

“As a little boy, he never missed anything, never just assumed everything was going to work out,” said Beamer, who won 280 games during his coaching career, including 238 in 29 seasons at Virginia Tech.

“He practiced hard, planned hard and worked hard to make the outcome be what he wanted it to be.”

Before wireless headsets, Shane would carry the cord for his dad on the sideline during games. Barely 11 years old, Shane just didn’t carry the cord, either, but practiced carrying the cord at nights in the family garage.

“That probably tells you everything you need to know about him,” Frank said. “Most people who are going to handle the cord on the sideline just go out there and do it, but Shane — even that young — wanted to make sure he was perfect.”

Only one time was there a small hiccup. Shane went home one night after a game and told his mother, Cheryl, some of the “colorful” things his dad said during the game.

“It was a tough game, I remember, and I got Shane aside and said, ‘Look, what happens on the sideline stays on the sideline.’ He was good after that,” Frank joked.

There are never any guarantees in the world of coaching, but Frank is convinced his son is “more than ready” for this job, a job Frank said Shane has long told him was his dream job after working at South Carolina as an assistant under Steve Spurrier from 2007-10.

“He’s so detailed and so organized,” Frank said. “He takes after his mom in that regard. Thank goodness. I’ve always said to take care of the little things and the big things will come. And that’s Shane.”

Frank and Cheryl will be watching proudly Monday, albeit virtually due to COVID-19 restrictions, when their 43-year-old son follows in his dad’s head coaching footsteps.

They will remember Shane diligently practicing carrying the headset cord on those nights in the garage.

They will remember him standing on the deck at their Blacksburg, Virginia, home with his Fisher-Price walkie talkie and radioing plays down to his younger sister, Casey, while the neighborhood kids played football down below.

They will remember him dressing in a coat and tie and going over his dad’s old travel itineraries from Frank’s first head coaching job at Murray State and planning for a mock road trip.

They will remember him pouring through Frank’s old playbooks going back to Frank’s defensive coordinator days at The Citadel. Shane kept every one of those old playbooks in his desk drawers at his childhood home.

They will remember Shane even quitting football briefly as a kid just so he could be there for all of his father’s practices and games, and then when he returned to football just before high school, securing the earliest flight possible on Saturday mornings and fly by himself to be there for the Hokies’ away games and then fly back with the team.

“There were so many signs. It was in the cards that we would be here one day, and here we are,” Cheryl said.

Frank is particularly proud that Shane made his own way in the coaching ranks and didn’t coach under his father until the final years prior to Frank’s retirement in 2015. Shane also played for his dad at Virginia Tech on special teams.

“He never asked me one time to make a call for him,” Frank said. “He wanted to do it on his own, and he did. He worked for a lot of great people and learned from a lot of great people. He’s coached a lot of positions and had an opportunity to learn a lot about football.”

One of the knocks against Shane in being a head coach was that he’s never been a primary play-caller on offense or defense, but Frank thinks the fact that his son has experience coaching offense, defense and special teams will be an advantage for him as a head coach.

“I used to say about Bobby Ross [whom Frank worked under at The Citadel] that he was one of the most knowledgeable guys I knew,” Frank said. “He could sit there and talk to you about offense, talk to you about defense and could talk to you about special teams. Shane is the same way. He’s very knowledgeable about every part of the game.”

As a recruiter, Frank said Shane’s genuineness and his ability to relate to people from all walks of life are what make him so effective. Shane was South Carolina’s recruiting coordinator in 2009 and 2010 when the Gamecocks assembled some of their best recruiting classes in school history, serving as a foundation for three consecutive 11-win seasons and three consecutive top-10 finishes in the final polls.

Many of the players from those classes have been staunchly in Shane’s corner, and publicly so, to land the South Carolina job.

“Recruiting is about work and relationships,” Frank said. “Shane will write down that extra note or make that extra call to find out who’s really going to make the decision. He cares about people. He cares about his players. He respects people and gives those people respect, and that’s kind of what it’s all about.”

Frank and Cheryl did their best not to bother Shane during the whole search process. At least twice during Frank’s career, he had chances to go to the SEC as a head coach, once to Alabama and once to Georgia. But he could never bring himself to leave his alma mater.

“We knew from Frank’s experience when he was up for jobs how stressful it all can be,” Cheryl explained. “So we didn’t ask Shane a lot of questions.”

But finally, late last Saturday night, Cheryl received a FaceTime call from her granddaughter and Shane’s oldest daughter, Sutton. Cheryl and Sutton FaceTime often, so Cheryl didn’t know for sure that this was the call.

Sutton asked where Frank was. The grandkids all call him “Da.” So Cheryl went to get Frank in the other room, where he was watching television.

When they returned, Shane was standing there holding his son, Hunter, with a grinning Sutton standing right beside him.

Shane’s younger daughter, Olivia, was with her mother, Emily, as she filmed the whole scene.

“You’re looking at the new coach at the University of South Carolina,” Shane told his parents.

Immediately, Frank and Cheryl both burst into tears.

“We both were crying, just seeing the joy in his face,” Cheryl said.

She lost it again the next day when she saw the picture of an emotional Shane gazing out into Williams-Brice Stadium after flying in Sunday.

“He loves the place, loved his time there, he and Emily both,” Cheryl said. “Shane was born in Charleston, and both of their girls were born in Columbia. It’s such a blessing.”

Frank, who had just two winning seasons in his first six years at Virginia Tech, only had one bit of advice for his son.

“Just be exactly who you are,” Frank recounted.

The Gamecocks are betting that will be good enough.

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