You can bet the South Carolina power brokers will be watching closely on Saturday. Why? The Gamecocks’ wunderkind head coach isn’t having the sort of success many envisioned before the season began.
However, there’s something else they should be keeping an eye on. In fact, they won’t have a choice. Tennessee’s offense is hard to miss.
South Carolina head coach Shane Beamer and Tennessee head coach Josh Heupel are both in their second season at their respective schools. Things couldn’t be going any differently.
The Vols are in the hunt for a College Football Playoff. At 6-4, the Gamecocks are in the hunt for a winning record. That’s quite a difference.
Heupel brought an explosive, uptempo offense to Tennessee. Beamer brought some hip social media posts and, well, that’s about it. I’m certainly not trying to take unfair shots at Beamer, but I’m just not certain where his program is headed. Forget the record. What is the long-term plan?
Heupel has a clear plan: offset a talent deficit by making defensive backs more skittish than a cat with a penchant for espresso. Then, develop a defense that can play vertically, create chaos and give that aforementioned offense more opportunities. That seems simple enough.
Beamer’s plan – if there is one – isn’t quite so clear. That’s why those power brokers should be looking at Tennessee’s coaching staff every bit as much as Beamer’s crew of dudes.
In particular, South Carolina should take a long, hard look at Alex Golesh, who was recently named a nominee for the Broyles Award, which goes to the top assistant coach in the nation. Sometime, in the not so distant future, Golesh will be a top coaching candidate. That just comes with the territory when you have the kind of success that the Vols have had this season and will likely continue to have.
I’m certainly not saying that South Carolina should jettison Beamer to Tybee Island anytime soon. Most every coach deserves at least three years to prove his worth – or lack thereof.
I’m also not saying that Golesh is the secret football savant behind Tennessee’s offense. He’s not. Heupel is. However, things tend to rub off.
Tennessee has been through this before, seeing coaches being approached by other schools. However, it’s been awhile since the Vols have been so bad. Former Tennessee offensive coordinator David Cutcliffe, who was the head coach at Ole Miss and Duke, is the most glaring example of a championship run opening up other opportunities.
If Tennessee is successful, coaches will get poached. If I’m South Carolina, I’m at least making a phone call or two about Golesh if things don’t pan out for Beamer.
Unless Golesh has kept his head hidden under the coaches’ conference room table, he knows offense and, unless he’s failed to see any form of media, he knows how important NIL is to resurrecting a program faster than anyone ever dreamed possible.
Let’s face it. South Carolina has only been relevant when they turned everything over to one person. Now, that person just happened to be a legendary coach before he took the job in Columbia, but at least the important decisions were made almost as fast as Heupel’s offense runs plays.
That man was Steve Spurrier. Maybe you remember him. Spurrier made the Gamecocks relevant and helped usher in vast facility upgrades. Beamer has ushered in TikTok.
Now, I’m certainly not comparing Golesh to Spurrier. There is no comparison. However, a proven coach like Spurrier is only going to be available and willing to be a Gamecock once in a 100 years. I don’t think South Carolina’s fans want to wait that long again.
Think about it for just a moment. Columbia is a good size city with potential NIL dollars just waiting to be spent. Sure, the Gamecocks have to compete with Clemson, but being in the SEC makes that doable.
As for recruiting, South Carolina is still the state school. It might be time to remind in-state prospects of that. Clemson was cool for awhile, but that snazziness seems to have worn off. Clemson coach Dabo Swinney has publicly said he isn’t fond of NIL, which nowadays is about the dumbest thing a coach can say publicly – even if he believes it.
Golesh, 38, has strong midwestern ties. He has coached at Ohio State, Northern Illinois, Illinois and Iowa State. Maybe he wants to return to that area one day. Maybe he’s been won over by the SEC. If things don’t straighten up soon with Beamer, the power brokers at South Carolina had better find out before another school inevitably does.