USC’s Shane Beamer and Tennessee’s Josh Heupel were named Monday night co-winners of the Steve Spurrier First Year Coach of the Year. The award is presented by the Football Writers Association of America and goes annually to the coach (es) who did the best job in the country in his first season at the school. This is the first year the award carried Spurrier’s identification. He also won the award at USC in 2005.
The Gamecocks, who were projected by Las Vegas to win three games in 2021, finished with a 7-6 mark including a win over North Carolina in the Duke’s Mayo Bowl in Charlotte. The Gamecocks were 2-8 the previous season.
Among the issues Beamer had to navigate in his first season a revolving door at quarterback. Four different starters won games. Only the 2014 Utah State team equals Gamecocks in that category.
“Well there are two coaches this year because they are both very deserving,” Spurrier said. “Preseason, their teams were picked next to Vandy at the bottom of the league, 12 and 13, but instead of gloom and doom they took their players and improved every game, and both finished 7-6.
With the success of this season will come the pressure to do even more in 2022. The Gamecocks have already been included in some top 25 projections for the next season.