Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
Dead weight can be described as an oppressive burden or difficulty. For those in Columbia, associated with the South Carolina Gamecocks, that term could aptly describe the tumultuous career of quarterback Stephen Garcia.
Some would say that it was only a matter of time before the inevitable parting of the ways between Steve Spurrier and his pet project. Looking at it now, the facts certainly bear that out with Garcia's recent dismissal from school.
The Ol' Ball Coach went to bat more than a few times for his troubled signal- caller, but Garcia allegedly failed a recent alcohol test and that was the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back.
In all, Garcia had been suspended five times in his collegiate career. The most recent prior to his dismissal came last April for his conduct at of all things, a life-skills seminar, giving credence to the notion that the young man simply couldn't get out of his own way.
"Being a student-athlete at the University of South Carolina is a privilege, not a right," said Athletics Director Eric Hyman, "and we remind all of our student-athletes that there are consequences for their actions. For Stephen to return to and remain with the football squad this fall, we agreed on several established guidelines. Unfortunately, he has not been able to abide by those guidelines and has therefore forfeited his position on the roster. We wish him the best of luck as he moves forward in life."
Stephen Garcia had been suspended five times in his collegiate career.
"We are all saddened that this has occurred," said Spurrier. "We all feel like we've given Stephen numerous opportunities to be a student-athlete here at South Carolina. Obviously, he has chosen not to follow the guidelines of his reinstatement contract. We wish him the best."
Garcia will certainly be remembered in the annals of South Carolina football.
Unfortunately, most of it will be negative.
Sure, he finished his career with 7,597 passing yards and 47 touchdowns, becoming just the third quarterback in school history to throw for more than 7,500 yards. He ranks third in school history in pass attempts, pass completions and passing touchdowns. He was 20-14 as a starter and led the Gamecocks to their first-ever SEC East Division crown and SEC title game, while passing for 3,059 yards and 20 TDs in 2010. However, all his accomplishments on the field will be tarnished by his actions off it.
Building on an SEC East title in 2010, South Carolina came into 2011 ready to take the next step and vie for not only the SEC crown, but a national title as well. Garcia's reinstatement to the team just prior to training camp came with guarded optimism.
To have a veteran quarterback under center guiding a team through a season is certainly a plus, but there was always the fear of Garcia derailing the USC freight train on its way to possible gridiron glory.
However, a funny thing happened on the way to a train wreck. Spurrier found himself a capable quarterback in sophomore gunslinger Connor Shaw. The plan was obviously to allow Shaw to come along slowly with Garcia at the helm this season. While that plan is now out the window, South Carolina may just be better off in both the short and long terms.
After a couple of stagnant offensive performances by South Carolina under Garcia (nine interceptions in the first five games), the Gamecocks found new life against Kentucky this past weekend. Shaw completed an efficient 26-of-39 passes for a career-high 311 yards and four TDs in a rout of the Wildcats (54-3). The offense as a whole churned out 639 yards, the most since 2001.
South Carolina has plenty of talent on the offensive side of the ball to assuage anything lost during the transition from Garcia to Shaw. The team boasts two of the nation's top performers in tailback Marcus Lattimore (129.8 ypg, nine TDs) and wideout Alshon Jeffrey (25 receptions, 427 yards, four TDs), and those kind of dynamic playmakers can mask any deficiencies during Shaw's learning curve.
If anything, Shaw's performance last week may have opened Spurrier's eyes to the fact that Garcia had long been expendable. Garcia's most recent "lapse" in judgement certainly didn't help his cause any.
The oft-troubled young man has already graduated from school with a sociology degree, so at least he handled his business in the classroom. Unfortunately for him, the business of playing football at a major college is over.
That may not be such a bad thing for the Gamecocks the rest of the way.