COLUMBIA, S.C. - The University of South Carolina's search for a football coach took less than a month and wound up with the Gamecocks bringing back a familiar name.
After multiple media reports Saturday night indicating such a move was imminent, South Carolina made it official Sunday afternoon, announcing the hire of former assistant Shane Beamer.
The 43-year-old Beamer, who spent the past three seasons as the Oklahoma Sooners' assistant head coach and worked with the team's tight ends, came to the South Carolina campus Sunday alongside athletic director Ray Tanner and was introduced to the team.
The son of former longtime Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer takes over for Will Muschamp, who was fired on Nov. 15 with three games left in the season. First-year South Carolina offensive coordinator Mike Bobo had served as interim coach since Muschamp's dismissal, and the Gamecocks (2-8) finished their 10-game all-Southeastern Conference schedule on Saturday night with a sixth consecutive loss, 41-18 at Kentucky.
Soon after that, word spread that Beamer was South Carolina's choice to replace Muschamp.
Tanner, the AD since 2012, called Beamer the "perfect fit" to lead the Gamecocks, who have gone 6-16 overall and 5-15 in the SEC the past two seasons.
"He has worked under some of the greatest coaches in college football and has taken those lessons to become one of the bright, young minds in the game," Tanner said in a release announcing the hire. "I believe Shane's energy, enthusiasm, commitment and fondness for our school and program will be met favorably by our student-athletes, staff and fans."
Beamer spent four seasons (2007-10) as a South Carolina assistant under Steve Spurrier. The Palmetto State native served as recruiting coordinator his final three seasons, helping fashion teams that won the SEC East Division in 2010 and went 11-2 each year from 2011 to 2013.
Beamer also worked for his father at Virginia Tech, Kirby Smart at Georgia and, for the past three seasons, Lincoln Riley at Oklahoma. With the Sooners, Beamer assisted teams that made the past three College Football Playoffs.
Beamer, who was born in Charleston and began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Georgia Tech and then Tennessee, said he was happy to be home upon entering the $50 million football operations building that was a pie-in-the-sky dream when he left after the 2010 season.
Now he has the resources of an SEC program as he tries to get back to winning the way the Gamecocks did when he was with them a decade ago.
"I have been preparing for this moment my entire life," Beamer said in the release, adding that he is "ready and excited" to lead the Gamecocks.
Tanner said he, university president Robert Caslen and athletic administrator Chance Miller talked to several qualified and talented coaches.
"Shane's candidacy set the bar high as were talking to other coaches," said Tanner, who noted an outside firm assisted in the search.
Louisiana-Lafayette coach Billy Napier was thought to be another strong candidate for the position, but the former Murray County (Georgia) High School and Furman quarterback announced Saturday he would remain with the Rajun' Cajuns, who are 9-1 this season after going 11-3 last season. Earlier that day, Louisville coach Scott Satterfield told the Louisville Courier Journal that he had a conversation with South Carolina officials but intended to stay put.
On Saturday night, when Beamer was not with the Sooners as they beat Baylor, Riley declined to confirm reports but voiced support for his assistant.
"I'll wait to talk to him first," the Oklahoma coach said. "If it is true, I'm certainly thrilled for him. If it is the case, it'll be a great decision by South Carolina."