By PETE IACOBELLI
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Shane Beamer is returning to South Carolina, this time as head football coach.
A source close to the search told The Associated Press on Saturday night that Beamer will be hired and take over the program run the past five seasons by Will Muschamp. Muschamp was let go last month with three games remaining in the season.
The person spoke to the AP on the condition of anonymity because South Carolina has not yet made the hire officials.
This is the first head coaching job for Beamer, the son of former Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer who served on the Gamecocks’ staff from 2007-2010 under former coach Steve Spurrier.
The younger Beamer has spent the past three seasons as assistant head coach and tight ends coach at Oklahoma. He was not with the team on Saturday night when Oklahoma beat Baylor and Sooners coach Lincoln Riley declined to confirm reports.
“I’ll wait to talk to him first,” Riley 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. ”
South Carolina finished a dismal 2-8 season with a 41-18 loss at Kentucky, the Gamecocks’ sixth straight defeat.
Athletic director Ray Tanner wanted to have a new coach in place before Dec. 16, the start of college football’s early signing period.
Beamer was expected to be on campus as soon as Sunday as he’s charged with turning around a team that’s gone 6-16 overall and 5-15 in the Southeastern Conference.
Louisiana-Lafayette coach Billy Napier was thought to be another strong candidate for the position, but announced Saturday he would remain with the Rajun’ Cajuns.
Earlier in the day, Louisville coach Scott Satterfield told the Louisville Courier Journal that he had a conversation with South Carolina officials but intended to stay put.
Beamer, 43, helped set up the most successful period of Gamecocks football history. His final year in Columbia was South Carolina’s first-and-only SEC East Division title. The next three years after Beamer left to join his father at as a Virginia Tech assistant, Spurrier and the Gamecocks went 11-2 for three straight seasons — led by several of the players Beamer helped recruit.
Beamer will have to do a similar job on the recruiting trail, and he will have $50 million football ops building that opened in January 2019 to show use to his advantage.
South Carolina was hit with several critical opt-outs after Muschamp was let go including two NFL-caliber defensive backs in Jaycee Horn and Israel Mukuamu.
The Gamecocks have also several defections in their commitments, who get the first chance to sign to their college choices in 11 days.
Beamer was an assistant at Georgia in 2017 when the Bulldogs reached the national championship game. He moved on to the Sooners before the 2018 season, helping them reach the College Football Playoff the previous two years.
Beamer could have a couple of offensive pieces in place to build on going forward at South Carolina.
Mike Bobo, hired by Muschamp as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, had been the interim coach the final three games. While the Gamecocks lost all three, there was hope of better things ahead as freshman Luke Doty took over at quarterback for graduate transfer Collin Hill.
Sophomore running back Kevin Harris had 210 yards in the loss to Kentucky on Saturday night to become the first at South Carolina to go for 1,000 yards in a season since Mike Davis in 2013.