Thu Apr 21 12:21pm EDT
If you thought Stephen Garcia's latest suspension from South Carolina — his fifth offense in four years on campus, all beginning with alcohol — was the final straw for the Gamecocks' resident Broseidon, well, that was a pretty good guess. If coach Steve Spurrier as his way, though, there may be a future for Bro Montana in a Gamecock uniform yet:
Spurrier said during the SEC's annual spring teleconference Wednesday that he's stayed in contact with Garcia, who was suspended for the fifth time in his career for a behavior issue. The Head Ball Coach also said he wants his QB back — and possibly when.
"Hopefully it'll work out that he'll back with us with maybe a lot better attitude than he's ever had," Spurrier said. "It'll be a university decision, probably happen sometime during the summer."
For Garcia to get back in the good graces of the school, Spurrier said he'd have to meet several unknown requirements.
"We'll have to check his progress and see how he's reacting to some certain issues the athletic director, the president and I, we've all three started giving him some guidelines. We'll see how he follows through."
The last time Garcia was in this position, forced to walk the straight and narrow following his third strike in a little over a year in 2008, some administrators didn't think he'd be able to meet the list of summer demands the university imposed for readmission that fall. Then, he passed the test, came back and kept his nose clean for two-plus years as the full-time starter (as well as, it seemed, a maturing father). The question this time is whether that bar has been raised by caretakers who are pretty clearly fed up after finding themselves back at square one with a 23-year-old senior who's forfeited his claim to a leadership role with two offenses in the span of a few weeks.
Carolina's chances of rolling back to the SEC Championship Game may or may not factor into that answer, but it will certainly affect those chances. The understudy, Connor Shaw, didn't show much as a true freshman or during the Gamecocks' spring game earlier this month. If Garcia isn't Carolina's only hope — Marcus Lattimore and Alshon Jeffery are the best 1-2 running back/receiver punch in the nation, bar none — he's certainly the best hope, the difference between opening as the clear favorite to repeat in the East Division for the first time ever and just another flawed team in a crowded pack, as usual. Maybe that will come into play if he's on the fence. But that depends on where the university put the fence in the first place.
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Matt Hinton is on Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.