‘Commissioner Beamer’ breaks down draft plan, format for South Carolina’s spring game

For a day, Shane Beamer is the commissioner.

For the spring game last year, Beamer wanted to make things interesting. He didn’t want a team with all the starters versus a team with all the backups.

The solution: Hold a draft.

So the Gamecocks’ team room became a de-facto war room, where the name of every player was on a whiteboard. The “coaches” were inside the room, split up into the garnet and black teams. The players sat outside at tables, waiting to hear their name.

And Beamer was the commish. When the pick was in, they’d sound that ESPN draft-day jingle and he’d step up to the podium and announce the pick. The player would come up to the stage and pose for a picture with the commissioner. The only thing missing was the post-pick interviews.

“We had a ton of fun with it,” Beamer said. “Once you got picked, you went into the draft room. And that got a little chaotic because, by the end of the night, you had two different teams and like 100 players in there.”

Last year, Beamer said, freshman quarterback LaNorris Sellers was the first pick because athletic trainer Clint Haggard was the garnet head coach and knew Sellers could play the second half, while Spencer Rattler would only play a quarter.

“You’ve gotta be strategic,” Beamer said. “We’ll have people doing the picking. We’ll have coaches as well — trying to figure out how we’re gonna do that — but we wanna be creative and make it competitive.”

This year’s draft will take place Thursday in advance of South Carolina’s 2024 garnet and black game at 7 p.m. Saturday.

“I had a couple (players) on Sunday call me,” Beamer said, “and want to make sure we were dividing the teams up and that it was gonna be a competitive game.”

Different schools try to put little spins on the spring game. Some will go offense vs. defense. Some will have two separate teams, but have odd point values — such as a point awarded for an explosive play or two points for a sack.

Beamer wants it to almost feel like a preseason NFL game.

Last year, it was tied 17-17 after regulation and “the players refused to let it finish in a tie,” Beamer said, so they decided things with a two-point conversion shootout.

Last year, too, brought added attendance. After just over 20,000 showed up for the 2022 spring game, 51,000 were on hand at Williams-Brice Stadium last year.

“We’ve got a bunch of recruits coming,” Beamer said. “I’m blessed to not work at a place where we don’t have 100 people in the stands for the spring game. We need a lot. I saw with some of our competitors in the SEC last week and the crowds they had.”