South Carolina tight end Nick Muse has noticed something different about new head coach Shane Beamer. The Gamecocks will have a 7 a.m. workout. Muse will get there about 6:15, and when he does, he'll see Beamer "doing the same workout we're going to do."
"He's got some big shoes to fill," Muse said, "but I believe he can make it happen."
Those big shoes belong to Beamer's father, Frank, who built his Hall of Fame legacy as the longtime head coach at Virginia Tech. Shane Beamer said he has heard allegations of nepotism as far back as high school, when other kids would suggest he owed his starting spot to his dad's prominent position.
Beamer said he's proud of his father and still leans on him for advice, but "I always tried to keep that chip on my shoulder or edge about myself to prove myself for sure."
He's brought that edge back to the conference where he worked as an assistant at Tennessee, Mississippi State, Georgia and South Carolina. He's worked in other leagues as well, most recently in the Big 12 at Oklahoma, but as he said of the SEC, "There's nothing like it."
Even while working with the Sooners for the last three years, Beamer said, his office TV typically was tuned into the SEC Network. His enthusiasm for South Carolina, where he worked when the Gamecocks won the 2010 SEC East title, bubbled over during his time at the podium Monday.
"I said in my (introductory) press conference back in December that I didn't feel like there was anything at South Carolina that we lacked to be a championship program, that we had everything that we needed," Beamer said. "I am even more convinced of that now after being there for seven months."
Strong words, but he backed them up by reeling off the many advantages in Columbia, from first-class facilities to "the best fanbase in the nation" to a tradition of national championships in baseball and women's basketball to a recent history of three straight 11-win football seasons from 2011-13.
"There have been some great days in Columbia, South Carolina, some great days for South Carolina football," Beamer said, "but I am 100 percent convinced that the best days of South Carolina football are right in front of us, and I couldn't be more excited about that, couldn't be more excited about being the head football coach of South Carolina."
His enthusiasm has rubbed off on his players.
"I'm definitely looking forward to the Shane Beamer era," edge rusher Kingsley Enagbare said. "I'm definitely looking forward to competing for a championship this year."