Steve Spurrier runs a tight ship….unless you perform on the field. News broke yesterday that South Carolina quarterback Stephen Garcia was dismissed from the team. The “Old Ball Coach” really put his foot down and sent a clear message to his players–if you are going to have off the-field-problems, your statistics had better be there…otherwise, you’re gone.
Garcia had more than his share of off-the-field. Although the NCAA doesn’t keep the stat on their main board, Garcia’s unprecedented five suspensions has to be some kind of record.
Despite those suspensions, including his last documented on last spring indefinitely for causing a disturbance in a mandatory SEC players meeting which, ironically enough, centered around life choices for student athletes. Even after that suspension, Garcia was promptly reinstated by Spurrier–just in the time for the opening of the 2011 season.
The troubled quarterback undoubtedly received a fair amount of lieniency, largely due to his productive season on the field last season. In that sesason, Garcia threw for over 3,000 yards, completed 64% of his passes and had 20 touchdowns against 14 interceptions and led the Gamecocks to a SEC Championship Game–the first appearance ever by South Carolina.
Fast forward to this season, where Garcia has struggled mightily, throwing only four TDs and 9 interceptions with an unattractive completion percentage of 51%. Couple that with sophomore backup QB Connor Shaw’s stellar performance last weekend against Kentucky, where he threw for over 300 yards with 4 TDs and no picks, and all of the sudden, Garcia’s off-the-field antics were viewed as much more detrimental to the team.
Spurrier taught his troubled quarterback a valuable life lesson this week. Win football games and put up good stats, and you’re untouchable. Should you lose a step on the field, however, and Spurrier will run his program with an iron fist. You have to love a coach who prepares his young men for the harsh realities of the world–well done, coach.