Gordon Beckham started the 1981 and 1982 seasons at South Carolina, bridging the gap between two offenses (hand it to George Rogers, to a pro-style passing game) and two coaches (Jim Carlen to Richard Bell). Today he lives in Atlanta and is President/CEO of Infosys McCamish Systems, which coordinates life insurance administration.
Q: Why USC?
A: “I was being recruited by Tennessee, Auburn, Clemson and North Carolina … they were the other four. The reason for USC was (then-USC assistant and former Georgia quarterback) Ray Goff. He got involved, and me having grown up in Atlanta, I had been a Georgia fan my whole life. Of course I remembered him and he was the difference in my decision-making.”
Q: You didn’t play much your first two seasons but you were able to be part of two bowl teams and a Heisman Trophy campaign. What was that like?
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A: “That was probably the highlight of my whole career. We had good football teams. We were really strong on offense and defense. And of course, getting to play with a Heisman winner was really special. Those were fun years.”
Q: You became the starter in 1981. What changed after George Rogers left?
A: “In 1981, we were an average football team. I think we were 6-6 that year. Our team just wasn’t as good as they were my freshman and sophomore years. It was a lot more fun to play than stand on the sidelines holding a clipboard, but we changed the offense. George was gone, so we ran double-tight end, more of a pro-style offense. We had to be more versatile with the attack, so we tried to throw it a little bit more, I guess. We played Clemson really good that year, we were in that game but came up short (the Tigers won 29-13 on the way to the national championship). We had some other good wins that year.”
Q: Jim Carlen was fired in 1981 and Richard Bell took over. How did you handle that?
A: “Well, obviously, coach Carlen was the head coach that recruited me there. I was sad to see him go. I’m not sure if it was the right move, but it seemed to be a political thing between coach Carlen and the administration and I really don’t know what happened. I think we took a step back.”
Q: Did you give pro football a try?
A: “No, I look back and I was largely kind of disappointed with the way college went for me, from a football perspective. I had much higher expectations. I was ready to do something else at that point. My last year wasn’t much fun for me. I was tired of football, and nobody was interested in me anyway.”
Q: When did you get into your present profession?
A: “I joined a bank and was there two years, then I joined an insurance company in marketing and did that till 1995. We were commercialized in 1995, and I’ve been in life insurance administration since.”
Q: Do you ever get back to USC?
A: “I married a girl that went to South Carolina and was from Spartanburg, so we have deep ties with USC. I was very active in the early years, then we had children, so that makes travel difficult, especially when they got involved in sports. I don’t miss any game on TV.”