Fans’ heartbreak; Spurrier’s heartburn

A guy usually has to buy me dinner before breaking my heart. But not Gamecocks quarterback Stephen Garcia.

Stephen Garcia's latest misstep opens the door for sophomore QB Connor Shaw

That cracking sound you heard Wednesday? It was the sound of USC fans’ hearts shattering nationwide as we learned Garcia had been suspended from spring practice for the second time this year and the fifth time in his Carolina career. This time, the suspension is indefinite. He may be back in uniform someday, but who can say? At this point, even Head Ball Coach Steve Spurrier probably doesn’t know for certain.

One thing’s for sure, though: If Garcia could be as consistent on the field as he is in his personal life, we’d be on our way to a championship season. This is a guy who sat out the first week of spring practice for having a girl (or girls, depending upon who you believe) in his hotel room before the Chick-fil-A Bowl. After the dust died down, Garcia apologized to Carolina fans – who were a mixture of impressed by his rumored virility and appalled by his judgment – and promised to be on his best behavior.

Now, it’s possible that Garcia’s definition of best behavior differs from Spurrier’s, and also from Carolina Athletic Director Greg Hyman’s. But no matter what the definition, showing up Tuesday night at a character-building seminar behaving boorishly – and, by some accounts, smelling of alcohol – wasn’t a smooth move.

Yes, I’m one of Garcia’s biggest fans. Yes, I desperately want to win an SEC Championship. And, yes, I think our best chance at winning one in the 2011 season is with Garcia at quarterback. But at this point, I don’t know if Garcia has what it takes to lead the team. I’m not sure he even wants to lead the team.

The truth is, Garcia gift-wraps this stuff for his detractors. Seriously, his bad behavior is so bad it’s almost comical. He’s setting a record for suspensions and partying like a pro. It’s just too bad that at this rate he’ll never make it to the pros.

Fed up or ’fessing up?

The Gamecocks and Stephen Garcia’s latest hijinks are trending topics on Twitter, but one topic that hasn’t been explored is the decision by Carolina officials to publicly punish the school’s most-experienced quarterback.

What if Garcia was the starting quarterback for another team? Would Auburn’s Gene Chizik suspend, say, Cam Newton for the rest of spring training for misbehaving at a leadership seminar? Or would he look the other way in public while privately sentencing Newton to some Marine boot camp-style punishment? What about Jim Tressel of Ohio State? What would he do?

I’m not going to claim that USC leaders are perfect, but there’s something to be said for addressing the situation instead of covering it up in a single-minded quest for an SEC championship.

On the other hand, perhaps they were just fed up. Let’s face it, Garcia threw 20 touchdowns last season, but he also threw 14 interceptions. He’s been given numerous chances to get his personal act together, but consistently blows those chances.

Garcia hasn’t spoken publicly about his latest imbroglio, but when he does – if he does – he’s likely to say the same thing he’s said so many times before: “I’m sorry. I messed up, but it won’t happen again.”

This time, though, it may be too late for apologies.


5 Responses to “Fans’ heartbreak; Spurrier’s heartburn”

  1. 1 Bruce Davidson
    April 7, 2011 at 11:01 PM

    Garcia was never going to lead the Gamecocks to a championship. He is a selfish child. The team is better off moving on without him.

  2. April 8, 2011 at 9:42 AM

    Good to have you back. One thing you might want to report on is Gov. Haley’s termination of Darla Moore’s (Darla Moore Rainwater) membership on the Board of the University. It looks like the Ol’ Ball Coach and the AD have more intrest in academic and “moral” issues than the Governor.

    P.S., Darla gave USC a LOT of money for the B School, which is named after her; she gave CU a lot of money for the School of Education in honor of her teacher father.

  3. 3 Brooke
    April 8, 2011 at 2:27 PM

    Well said, Ronda. I was a little behind on what happened before the bowl game, so the news yesterday was a double whammy. I am trying to convince myself that it could be worse. Note the word trying. I mean, he’s not involved in a “pay for play” scheme, right? Not yet anyway. And, his actions haven’t cost the university scholarships, a soured reputation, etc (putting aside the thought of actually winning the bowl game). Certainly, the behavior at the character building event is inexcusable, but I am willing to look past the events of the night before the bowl game (I mean, he’s 21 and if we found out about this story after we won, surely we’d be laughing about it). Great point about our administration directly addressing the probelm – publicly. It sure will be interesting to see how this plays out in the fall.

  4. 4 Peter Smirniotopoulos
    April 8, 2011 at 4:12 PM

    Move over, Ben Roethlisberger, you’ve just been outdone by an amateur! Garcia shouldn’t just be suspended, he should be gone. He’s undermining the authority and credibility of both the coach and the program, and no good can come from that. He doesn’t deserve to wear a Gamecocks uniform.

    • 5 Don Rupp
      April 9, 2011 at 4:33 PM

      Peter has it right…move over Ben, or should wait to see if Garcia can outdo Michael Vick? O.J. Simpson? Where does it end? I for one am pretty confident that the majority of fans (pro or otherwise) will not react in any way that detracts from their “star”. All is forgiven until the bodies literally fall out of the closet on their own.

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