Stephen Garcia has done it again.
South Carolina’s long-haired, talented quarterback has been removed from Spring practice for the second year in a row.
Taking a look at this kid’s timeline over the last year is painful, but let’s do it anyway:
Early January 2007: Shows up in Columbia, SC with a long ponytail, a big pickup truck, and a ton of beer.
Mid January 2007: Unknowingly impregnates his girlfriend.
Mid February 2007: Arrested for drunkenness and failure to stop on police command. He is suspended indefinitely by Steve Spurrier.
Early March 2007: Arrested again, this time for vandalizing the car of a USC professor two days earlier. He is suspended indefinitely. Again.
A few days later, Garcia issues a public apology. His long hair, somewhat of a distraction itself, is trimmed to satisfy those who want him to cut it all off.
About two days after his haircut, Garcia is officially suspended from Spring practice.
Mid April 2007: Spurrier reinstates Garcia to the team. Fans around Columbia share high-fives.
June 2007: Garcia begins pretrial intervention program that would clear charges from two previous arrests.
Late August 2007: Unable to grasp enough of the offense in so little time, Garcia is announced as a redshirt for the 2007-2008 season.
September 2007: USC’s football season begins with much success.
October 2007: Garcia’s girlfriend gives birth to a boy, Memphys, named after the main character in the animated movie “Happy Feet.”
November – December 2007: Football season ends poorly; Garcia stays out of trouble.
March 2008: Spring practice begins, and Garcia’s campaign for the starting quarterback job starts well. However, his hair is noticeably longer than last season.
He speaks to reporters about how much he has matured; how fatherhood has changed him; how it’s easier to focus on what is important.
After three practices, Garcia gets in trouble again.
Along with two other players, Garcia is cited and charged with underage drinking; five hours later, a fire extinguisher in his dorm is discharged. Garcia is shockingly the only “suspect.” There is approximately $100 worth of damage to the extinguisher.
Three days later, Garcia is suspended from team activities until August 15 by the university. He is allowed to finish Spring classes but is kicked out of his dorm residence.
He must apply for re-admittance to the school in August.
Garcia came to South Carolina as Spurrier’s first big-time quarterback recruit—and Spurrier’s first ever dual-threat recruit.
But the kid isn’t going to make it.
And I’m not suggesting Garcia is “in early stages of alcoholism,” as many around this city have tried to claim. He’s a college kid. College kids drink. Most of them drink quite a bit.
Unfortunately, Garcia appears to think he’s above the law, like so many other athletes who have been told they are the best since age 10. We’ve seen this song and dance before.
Until August and then beyond, Garcia’s life has to change drastically. He has to take part in alcohol counseling and be willing to give random drug tests. He has to open up his life to people he doesn’t know.
Based on his track record, I don’t think he can do it.
I’m glad the University and Spurrier want to support the kid; they are doing all the right things for the improvement of Stephen Garcia as a person. But I’m not sure they are helping Stephen Garcia the football player.
I’m no Gamecock fan, but I’ve been to Spring practices, and I’ve seen Garcia play. He’s big, he’s fast, he throws darts, and he’s popular with his teammates. I would love to see him get a chance to play in the SEC on Saturdays.
Sadly, I don’t think we’ll ever see that.
But I hope Stephen Garcia proves me wrong.