Shane Beamer’s first season with South Carolina may be a bumpy ride — if the early projections hold true.
SEC media members predicted the Gamecocks will land sixth in the SEC East in its annual poll announced Friday, behind only Vanderbilt. South Carolina finished sixth in the East last year, going 2-8 in its all-conference schedule ahead of the winless Commodores.
It’s the first time the media has picked the Gamecocks to place this low since 2016 — Will Muschamp’s first season as coach — when they were projected to finish last in the division. Muschamp ended up outperforming the prediction by two spots, as South Carolina landed fifth in the East that year.
“It is what it is,” Beamer said of preseason expectations for the program earlier this week at SEC Media Days. “If we’re picked to win the SEC in two years, I’m really not going to care. If we’re picked to finish last (this week), I’m really not going to care. Our players know that. We’ll take any kind of motivation we can. I think we all feel like we all have a lot to prove.”
The Gamecocks were projected to finish No. 2 in the East in 2018 but ended up placing fourth at season’s end. They haven’t been picked to win the division since 2014.
Beamer and his new staff have a flurry of questions to answer this year as they take over a young and inexperienced team in Columbia. South Carolina will also grapple with the nation’s 16th-toughest schedule according to ESPN FPI, hosting Florida and Clemson and traveling to Georgia and Texas A&M.
2021 SEC MEDIA PRESEASON POLL
South Carolina (1)
Texas A&M (1)
Ole Miss (1)