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The Verdict: Beamer addressed the missing piece

In South Carolina, the verdict is published by the Clerk of Court. In other words, when a jury has reached a verdict, the Clerk of Court, not a member of the jury, announces the verdict to the courtroom.

But in every jury trial – whether criminal or civil – there is no mistaking that the jury, and only the jury, is the finder of all facts.

Much like a jury, in this column, I will try to base my findings and opinions on facts. But unlike a jury, I want to hear from the gallery, both what I got right and what I got wrong.

Shane Beamer celebrates a touchdown in the Mayo Bowl.
Shane Beamer celebrates a touchdown in the Mayo Bowl. (Chris Gillespie/GamecockCentral.com)

The Verdict is in: Beamer addressed the missing piece.

On November 14, 1931, Auburn beat Sewanee in a shutout at Birmingham’s Legion Field. It had been 32 years since the 1899 Iron Men of Sewanee had gone undefeated -- a perfect 12-0. During that run, Sewanee played five games in six days. On that six-day Southern odyssey, the Sewanee Tigers traveled to Texas, Texas A&M, Tulane, LSU, and Memphis (where they faced Ole Miss) and surrendered not a single point.

The Homeric aspects of Sewanee’s 1899 team were not lost on legendary sportswriter Grantland Rice who named the 1899 Tigers “the most durable team I ever saw.” According to the late, long-time journalist and author Wendell Givens, the night before that 1931 Auburn game, Diddy Seibels, the team captain of the 1899 Sewanee team was on what today would be described as a sports talk radio show. Seibels recalled what made that Sewanee team so great. “There were no jealousies, only the indomitable will to win.”

In a video released on December 1, 2021 by Gamecock Football’s official Twitter page, the opening scene shows Shane Beamer addressing the 2021 Carolina Football team. In that team address, Coach Beamer relayed a message that had been repeated to him numerous times by multiple players. The reason Carolina had only won two football games in 2020 was because there was too much of “me mentality and not a team mentality.”

The “me mentality” is not natural to football. Sure, there are eccentric personalities that litter most NFL rosters, but football is the ultimate team sport.

“We got to have 11 people that just want to do their job, whatever it is… if you’ll do that, you’ll be alright,” Bear Bryant said in an Alabama locker room in 1967.

It doesn’t matter how good your running back is if your offensive line won’t block for him. It doesn’t matter how talented your pass defense is if your run defense can’t stop the opposing team’s rushing attack. Of course, I am exaggerating a bit to illustrate my point, but generational football talents don’t automatically translate to generational football teams like they can in other sports. Yes, Patrick Mahomes is incredible, but he benefits from throwing to the most open receivers and being protected by the best pass blocking offensive line in the NFL, according to PFF data. The Chiefs are Super Bowl contenders because they have an incredible team.

Unfortunately for the 2020 Gamecocks, a “me mentality” had taken hold of the locker room. Back in January and February of last year, I spent about 240 minutes breaking down the state of Gamecock Football and why Shane Beamer was the right choice to be the head football coach of Carolina. (If you are interested in listening to those ramblings, check out Paschal’s Gamecock Podcast on Spotify.) Two minutes into the breakdown, I talked about how Gamecock Football was handicapped by the way fans and coaches and players were programmed to view the program. There was a negativity associated with Carolina Football. That negativity was heard on sports talk radio. It was seen on Twitter. It circulated at tailgates, and bars, and oyster roasts.

The negativity surrounding Carolina Football was manifested due to the longstanding mindset that Carolina won games in spite of itself. That Carolina got elite recruits in spite of itself. That Carolina experienced success in spite of itself. Former defensive line coach Lance Thompson in December of 2018 Tweeted that it was a “modern day miracle” that the Gamecocks made a bowl game. When it’s considered a “modern day miracle” to attain bowl eligibility, and when success at Carolina was considered the exception and not the by-product, it’s not surprising that a roster full of otherwise hardworking and honorable young men succumbed to the “me over team” mindset.

The “missing piece,” as I described in January of 2021, was changing the Carolina Football mindset from winning in spite of being Gamecocks to winning because we are Gamecocks.

Outside of Columbia, the narrative for years from Clemson fans, Georgia fans, Florida fans, and elitist national pundits was that Carolina could not field a winning football team because it lacked the facilities, infrastructure, and resources needed to compete at the highest level. And that might have been true in the past, but not in December of 2020. In December of 2020, Carolina had one of the top-20 largest college football stadiums in the country, consistently ranked top-20 every year in revenue generated, consistently ranked in the top-25 in recruiting rankings, consistently produced NFL talent, had stunning and up-to-date facilities, had an indoor practice facility, and spent millions of dollars on its coaching staff. In December of 2020, the “lack of resources” or “lack of commitment” dig didn’t make sense anymore.

So, in December of 2020, the narrative outside of Columbia had to shift to something much more personal. The narrative was that Carolina had always been a loser so Carolina will always be a loser. Whether it was Paul Finebaum (who on July 8, 2021 said that Carolina was stuck at the bottom and called Beamer an emotional hire) or Dennis Dodds (need I say more) or any other critic of Beamer and Gamecock Football, the message was always the same: once a loser, always a loser.

Today, just a few days removed from Shane Beamer being named the First-Year Coach of the Year, it is clear that Coach Beamer didn’t buy into that nonsense. Shane Beamer and his staff not only attacked the egotistical mindset that permeated the locker room but attacked the pessimistic mindset that existed throughout Gamecock Football. “There were no jealousies, only the indomitable will to win.” Those principles, which carried the 1899 Sewanee Tigers to victory, are the same principles Beamer built this Gamecock Football program with. That ethos, combined with the mantra of “above all else, love your brother,” led Beamer and this 2021 team to heights many didn’t think possible. It was a historic year one for Beamer and Co. in Columbia.

And while those changes were displayed on the field and in the win-column in 2021, it’s year two in the Beamer Era that now has our attention.

With a solid recruiting class as its base, Carolina has aggressively attacked the transfer portal.

Kids want to play for Carolina. Coaches want to coach for Carolina. Fans want to cheer for Carolina. And while I think it’s important to keep expectations in check with reality, and while I think it’s important to support Beamer and his program through the ups and the downs, it is clear that all future successes will be because we are Gamecocks and not in spite of us being Gamecocks.

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