With another tough schedule, what does success look like for USC’s Shane Beamer in 2024?

At nearly every spot along his Welcome Home speaking tour this summer, someone asked Shane Beamer about South Carolina’s football schedule.

Some inquired if he, too, thought it was weird the Gamecocks weren’t playing Georgia, Tennessee or Florida this season. (He did.) Others asked him what SEC game he looked forward to the most. (Kentucky because it’s the first one.) And some would say something along the lines of, “Coach, with the schedule we have to play…” and Beamer would cut them off.

“We get to play that schedule,” he’d say. “That’s what playing the SEC is. If you don’t like it, go play in the ACC or another conference.”

At four separate events, that quote drew the biggest applause of the night. The truth has always been that South Carolina plays an insanely-difficult schedule — a slate that will only get tougher with the SEC’s addition of Texas and Oklahoma.

It’s possible this season that South Carolina is only favored in four games: at Vanderbilt, vs. Old Dominion, vs. Akron and vs. Wofford. Last season, the Gamecocks had the 16th hardest schedule in the nation. This season, facing four SEC squads that won 10 or more games last year, it might be one of the five toughest.

Now, it would seem ludicrous to think South Carolina will win only those four games. It would also be wacky to think the Gamecocks will beat Alabama, Oklahoma, LSU, Ole Miss and Clemson, and snag 10 wins for the first time in over a decade.

Success likely lies somewhere in the middle.

Asked what success looked like in his fourth year as South Carolina head coach, Beamer decided not to throw out a specific win number.

“I’ll always say it. Maximizing the potential of this year’s team. Whatever that is,” Beamer told The State. “We get everything out of this team we possibly can. If we do that, I think we have a chance to have a special season. If we don’t, it’s not gonna be the season we want.

“I think we’re well-positioned, not just for this year but for the future with the young talent we’ve recruited. With the young players we have in our program. With the leadership we have returning on our team. There’s a lot of the right ingredients in place.”

There is recent precedent for overlooked teams to make a monumental one-year jump — even against the big, bad teams of the SEC.

In 2022, Missouri won just a half-dozen games. A season later, the Tigers went 11-2 and beat Ohio State in the Cotton Bowl. Just seven years ago, Kentucky jumped from seven victories to 10 — the first time the Wildcats had a double-digit win total in 40 years.

So it is possible — just a tad tougher against the gauntlet facing South Carolina.

“To me, it’s just do you have a level of consistency year after year,” Beamer said, “to where you’re in the mix and you’re competing?”

South Carolina football 2024 schedule

  • Aug. 31: vs. Old Dominion

  • Sept. 7: at Kentucky, 3:30 p.m. (ABC)

  • Sept. 14: vs. LSU

  • Sept. 21: vs. Akron

  • Oct. 5: vs. Ole Miss

  • Oct. 12: at Alabama

  • Oct. 19: at Oklahoma

  • Nov. 2: vs. Texas A&M

  • Nov. 9: at Vanderbilt

  • Nov. 16: vs. Missouri

  • Nov. 23: vs. Wofford

  • Nov. 30: at Clemson