College sports are known for having a revolving door of coaches. In the past four years, the South Carolina Athletics Department and USC students have seen many coaching changes.
The four new faces in garnet and black are head football coach Shane Beamer, head men’s soccer coach Tony Annan, head swim and dive coach Jeff Poppell and head men's basketball coach Lamont Paris.
Former head football coach Will Muschamp was with the Gamecocks for five years, earning a 26-25 record. He holds the record for the most wins (22) in the first three seasons by a coach in school history.
Soon after Muschamp’s departure in 2020, the torch was passed to Beamer, making him the 36th head football coach at USC. He was previously an assistant head coach for offense at the University of Oklahoma and left in late 2020 to pursue the opportunity in Columbia.
“It’s an absolute honor to be the head football coach here at the University of South Carolina,” Beamer said in his introductory press conference in December 2020. “Today is an absolute dream come true — not just to be a head football coach in the Southeastern Conference, but to be the head coach at the University of South Carolina.”
In Beamer’s first season, the Gamecocks improved from 2-8 to 6-6 and became eligible for a bowl game for the first time in three seasons. Beamer ended his first season with a victory in the Duke's Mayo Bowl as well as securing the First-Year Coach of the Year, presented by Gamecock football legend Steve Spurrier.
Before Annan took over in April 2021, Mark Berson had been the head men's soccer coach for 40 seasons after he established the program in 1978.
Annan said he hopes to be well-liked among players and staff like Berson was.
"When I came to visit, I really felt at home and comfortable," Annan said. "At the end of the day, you can work at any level you want to, but it's about the people you work with and it's about the people that you're surrounded with."
In his first season with the Gamecocks, the team finished 5-9-2 overall. Despite the record, Annan was not focused on results. Instead, his focus was to take it one day at a time and instill his style of play in his team.
"After my first season here, I'm not going to abandon my philosophy," Annan said. "At the end of the day, it's a game that has to entertain, so we will always be a team that plays out of the back and tries to play through thirds of the field."
Swimming and diving
Poppell was named the head swimming and diving coach in April 2021. He is the ninth head coach of the men's program and eighth for the women's. Poppell came from the University of Florida, where he served as the head coach for three seasons.
"Ultimately, it was my decision to leave (Florida), to come here to try to help this program, help this university do something in the sport of swimming and diving that hasn't been done in a long, long time," Poppell told The Daily Gamecock in October 2021.
In his first season, the men and women finished 10th overall in the SEC Championship in Knoxville, Tennessee. Over five days of competition, graduate diver Brooke Schultz earned two gold medals and junior diver Manny Vazquez Bas earned bronze and set three school records.
Alongside Schultz and Vazquez, senior swimmer Maria Kraus represented the Gamecocks at the NCAA Championships.
The most recent of the coaching changes is the departure of head men’s basketball coach Frank Martin. After 10 years at the helm of the program, Martin was fired in March.
During Martin’s tenure, he went 171-147 overall and qualified for one NCAA tournament in which he took the Gamecocks to the Final Four. In the 2021-2022 season, South Carolina finished 18-13 overall and had a 9-9 record in SEC play.
Martin was replaced by Lamont Paris 10 days later. Previously, Paris coached at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. He led the Mocs for five seasons, earning an 87-72 overall record and won the teams first Southern Conference title since 2016.