How do you even begin to summarize the tumultuous career of Stephen Garcia? He was a ruffian and a scofflaw with a knack for playmaking that went hand-in-hand with a knack for stupid, self-inflicted wounds both on and off the field. Is that it?
That doesn't really seem to do justice to Garcia, who rode an uneven career to some sort of bizarre, iconic status in the college football blogosphere and Twitterverse. Most of that was based not on his on-field accomplishments, or lack thereof, but on his tendency to key a professor's car and party hard and drive Steve Spurrier crazy.
Along the way, Garcia also led South Carolina to one of the few nine-win seasons in its history and to its first SEC East championship in 2010, the second title of any kind in school history and the first in more than 40 years. And a fateful Peach Bowl bid that, according to Internet rumors, led to a decisive collision between both of the sides of Garcia's shattered personality.
In the wake of that incident, followed by an outburst at a life-skills event held by the university, the school issued Garcia an ultimatum to get his life together or get on with his life apart from the football team. Today, South Carolina announced that Garcia had once again made the wrong choice.
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.
The tragedy of Stephen Garcia is that he was one of the most accomplished quarterbacks in South Carolina history despite his penchant for self-destruction. Coming into this season, he had an opportunity to hold or at least come close to several of South Carolina's passing records. But once again, Stephen Garcia was his own worst enemy.
Garcia's problems also dribbled onto the field this season to an unprecedented degree. The offense found a spark when he came into the game against East Carolina, but quickly fell apart after that and seemingly got worse with each week. When Connor Shaw was finally inserted against Kentucky, the offense seemed to come alive again. Even adjusting for the competition, it looked like an entirely different team was on the field.
Does that have anything to do with today's decision? We'll never know if there was a direct connection between the two, though it's fair to wonder whether Garcia would have been kicked off the team if he were the quarterback who had seemingly steered the Gamecocks out of the ditch.
But knowing Garcia's history, it's not a stretch to think that his problems off the field could have contributed to his difficulties on it. It always seemed to be that way for Garcia; when he took a chance off the field, it almost always backfired so spectacularly that it hurt him on it.
It's sad that we'll never know just how good Stephen Garcia was, or whether he had one more improbable comeback in him. In the end, the worst side of his divided personality won out. You wonder if the better side ever really had a chance.