Mitchell: Should Garcia Be Allowed Back?
South Carolina QB Stephen Garcia
The Ol' Ball Coach used to be a term of endearment, now it's a fact. Don't confuse what Spurrier should do, or even wants to do, with what he will do.
For one reason and one reason only, Stephen Garcia will be back under center when the Gamecocks kickoff the 2011 season. And that reason is this:
Steve Spurrier has one year left.
The Ol' Ball Coach used to be a term of endearment, now it's a fact. And Spurrier desperately wants one more SEC championship on the mantle before hanging it up. Doing it at another school than Florida would put him at the same dance with Bear Bryant (Kentucky/Bama) and Nick Saban (LSU/Bama).
You don't know Steve Spurrier if you think that's not important to him.
Quick – if SC had somehow pulled off the mother-of-all-upsets and beaten Auburn at last year's SEC championship, where is Spurrier today? If you said somewhere around the back nine getting ready for a day of stress free sunshine and 36 holes, you get the taco.
Don't confuse what Spurrier should do, or even wants to do, with what he will do. Coach should dismiss Garcia at this point – five suspensions is four too many. There's no leadership with Garcia; worse, there's a cancer that sets in with that sort of placating.
If Garcia is allowed to return, an "If he can screw around, then so can I" mentality will soon start spreading through this team, if it hasn't already. Maybe not loudly like an earthquake, but don't kid yourself…
Ever had a boss/leader that slacks off at work? That doesn't show up or parties too much. How did that affect you and your work effort there? Or your co-workers?
Now imagine your job involves getting the daylights beaten out of you minute after minute. That it involves the risk of serious bodily harm, and requires courage and absolute confidence in your colleagues beside you.
You're beginning to get it now.
There's no room for doubt in that environment. No room for second guessing. No room for anything but maximum effort at all times, on and off the field. That is, IF you care about winning.
If your leader doesn't seem to give a damn, that sows a filth that will be far more painful to root out in the long-term than to simply fire that leader today. Failing to do so sets you up for years (seasons) of heartache.
But Spurrier won't fire Garcia. He should, but the OBC has just one year left in the tank and he wants greatly to win another SEC title. With (i) a fifth year senior (read: game experienced) quarterback, (ii) the conference's best wide receiver, (iii) perhaps the best running back of a generation, and (iv) a defense that has historically been fantastic under Spurrier/Ellis Johnson and should be markedly improved over 2010, why not take one last swing at the fences?
The most important ingredient in that recipe isn't Garcia, it's Marcus Lattimore, and he's truly the reason Spurrier is back. In SC's five defeats last year, the talented true freshman averaged just 3.9 ypc, on 11 carries per game. In their wins? 5.1 ypc, on 24 carries per game.
But if Lattimore is 1a then Garcia is 1b. STOP! Connor Shaw is not Stephen Garcia. He's a true sophomore with no starts and just 33 throws in his entire collegiate carear. He's got one touchdown to two interceptions. To say he's wet behind the ears is to say Paris Hilton's 15 minutes are up.
Ask Mark Richt how a rookie QB worked out for him and the Bulldogs last year.
Remember, this is it. Spurrier's not back for another 9-5/10-4 season to develop Shaw. Alshon Jeffery will be gone after this year, and more importantly, the East won't be weak in 2012.
Florida will be back, and Georgia will have a fourth year junior in Murray under center going on his third year of big-time game experience. The clock is ticking... and the window of opportunity shrinking.
This is it. And that's why Garcia's going to start. He knows it. Spurrier knows it. And now, so do you.
As for all those tsk, tsk, tskers in the Big 10/Pac 12 muttering, "just another SEC school…", here's a note in a bottle for you – no one cares what you think. Most certainly not down south. We've won five straight national championships, the folks below of the Mason-Dixon will say. When you figure out how to win again, we'll care about what you think.
So kindly step off. And clean your own house before you start whining about anybody else's.
Please follow Russ on Twitter @russmitchellsec or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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