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Garcia “Shocked And Completely Flabbergasted” By Carolina Boot

Following his dismissal from the South Carolina football team, Stephen Garcia texted an AP reporter to say that he was “shocked and completely flabbergasted to be honest” by his ouster.

The oft-troubled quarterback reportedly failed a random substance test on October 4th — just one day after Steve Spurrier gave the starting nod to backup quarterback Connor Shaw — and that led to his final dismissal yesterday.

While the rest of the sporting world shrugged its shoulders, not surprised that the five-times-suspended Garcia had somehow stumbled again, the player’s father — Gary Garcia — gave a more complete picture of what’s been going on with his son to Josh Kendall of The State:

“He kind of made his own bed, and this is the culmination of some of those earlier mistakes.  He’s upset that he’s not finishing what he came here to do and that’s win an SEC championship, but he also is maybe kind of relieved to get a little bit of fresh air…

This has got to be the worst two weeks of his life, but it’s not going to be the worst two weeks in his life going forward, I can tell you that.  You deal with trials and tribulations, and you learn from it.  Hopefully, he continues to learn and grow.  We’ll let the dust settle for a couple of weeks and then look at what his options are.”

In addition to losing his starting job and being kicked off Carolina’s team in the past two weeks, Garcia also had to attend his grandfather’s funeral last week.  His father said, “The death of my father along with the Auburn loss and being benched contributed” to his son’s most recent violation.  It’s been reported that the test showed alcohol and marijuana in the younger Garcia’s system.

In the end, we’re talking about a 23-year-old college graduate who needs to get his life in order.  As his father correctly pointed out, Garcia will face more trials and tribulations in his life moving forward.  There are plenty of people twice his age who still rush to a dime-bag of pot or a bottle of liquor when they’re faced with crises.  Here’s hoping Garcia won’t be one of them.

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It’s Official: Garcia Dismissed At Carolina

A weird day in Columbia just got weirder.  The State is reporting that sources have revealed to the paper that quarterback Stephen Garcia — he of five suspensions and a recent on-field demotion — has been dismissed from the South Carolina football team.

UPDATE — According to The Charleston Post & Courier, athletic director Eric Hyman has released the following statement:

“Being a student-athlete at the University of South Carolina is a privilege, not a right 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.”

Steve Spurrier had the following comments:

“We are all saddened that this has occurred.  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.” — the Rivals site covering USC — reports that two sources confirmed to the site that “Garcia flunked a substance-abuse test.”

What a sad end to a career that’s had more ups and downs than a toilet seat.

Gamecock fans will now hope that Connor Shaw can continue to play as well as he did last Saturday against Kentucky.

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SEC Headlines – 9/28/11 Part One

As we put together some research for a new round of expansion pieces, this will have to be a headline-heavy day on the site.  (Sorry, but I’m tired of doing research and writing til 2am.)

So here goes with some of the top stories making news around the league today:

1.  Here’s the transcript from yesterday’s conference call with Mike Slive and Texas A&M president R. Bowen Loftin.

2.  Florida’s Charlie Weis is ready to throw the “kitchen sink” at Alabama on Saturday.

3.  The Gators have confidence they can run on the Tide.

4.  But Bama’s had success against Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps in the past.

5.  Last year’s loss to MSU still haunts Georgia.

6.  UGA is focusing on special teams work after a bad day at Ole Miss.

7.  Safety Bacarri Rambo played against the Rebels after losing an unborn son just two days prior.

8.  Florida’s “lightning hit the outhouse” last week, but now Kentucky fans an LSU team that wants “to bloody your nose.”

9.  UK fans are already lining up for tickets to the school’s Big Blue Madness basketball event.

10.  Stephen Garcia will get the start at quarterback for South Carolina this weekend.

11.  The Carolina defense feels it’s up to stopping Auburn’s Mike Dyer.

12.  The guys on Tennessee’s offense aren’t taking Buffalo lightly.

13.  Freshman linebacker Curt Maggitt is making plays and some mistakes for the Vols.

14.  Ex-Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl may still be living in style, but the former aides who followed him down the road to ruin aren’t nearly as well off.  (A sad story.)

15.  Vanderbilt has lost starting linebacker Tristan Strong for the remainder of the season due to a knee injury.  (Another sad story.)

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SEC Headlines – 9/26/11 Part One

1.  The SEC has named its Players of the Week for Week Four.

2.  Florida’s John Brantley, Jordan Reed and Andre Debose are all expected to be healthy and ready to play against Alabama.

3.  Brantley says the Gators are better prepared to face Bama this year.

4.  Georgia’s defense is one of the highest-rated units in the conference and in the nation.

5.  Two sets of Bulldogs will be trying to reassert themselves when MSU visits UGA on Saturday.

6.  Kentucky defensive coordinator Rick Minter described the Cats’ loss to Florida thusly: “The speed of the game, it’s kind of like lightning struck the outhouse and we were in it.”

7.  On the flipside, Joker Phillips is trying to accentuate the positives from UK’s 48-10 loss.

8.  AD Mitch Barnhart said over the weekend that he no longer reads emails or takes calls from disgruntled Wildcat fans.  (Tip to Barnhart: Telling them that they have no voice is no way to “gruntle” them.)

9.  South Carolina’s defense was completely dominant on Saturday, but…

10.  The mercurial Stephen Garcia seems to have regressed this season.  (Someone might want to hand him a beer.)

11.  Tennessee kicker/punter Michael Palardy says his performance against Florida “was unacceptable.”

12.  With Buffalo up next — and we’re not talking about the Bills — the Vols should be able to fix some defensive issues.

13.  James Franklin doesn’t like “sour tastes, ever,” but he’s glad Vandy has an open date following its first loss of the season.

14.  On Saturday, the Commodores lost more yards to penalties (79) than they gained on offense (77).  You don’t see that everyday.

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Shaw Gets The Start For Carolina Over Garcia

Ultimately, who starts at quarterback next Saturday at Georgia will be more important than who starts for South Carolina tomorrow against East Carolina.  But for the record, tomorrow’s starter will be Connor Shaw, not Stephen Garcia.  And that ends a streak of 28-straight starts for the Cocks’ oft-troubled senior.

“I said way back we’re going to have a preseason competition to see who the starter is going to be (the) first game,” Steve Spurrier said yesterday.  “We’ve gone through preseason, so it’s over.  The guy who rated the best was Connor Shaw.  He played better than Stephen Garcia.  Simple as that.  So he’s going to start the game.

“(Shaw) is going to play the first quarter and Stephen’s going to play the second quarter.  And we’re going to see what happens after that.  That’s the fair way to do it.”

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SEC Headlines – 8/29/11 Part Three

1.  This writer expects Kentucky to grab a Gator Bowl bid with a 6-6 record in 2011.

2.  Here’s a terrific primer on Joker Phillips’ second UK football team.

3.  Carolina freshman defensive end Jadeveon Clowney — the most-hyped rookie in the SEC this fall — is staying humble.

4.  Stephen Garcia is asking Cock fans to take him back “one more time.”

5.  New strength coach Ron McKeefery — the Vols’ fifth since the start of the 2008 season — has tried to instill a sense of pride in Tennessee players.

6.  Freshman safety Pat Martin is leaving the UT program in what Derek Dooley calls a “mutual decision.”

7.  In the end, Vanderbilt’s hopes hinge on an improved offense.

8.  James Franklin named his starters today and quarterback Larry Smith will once again get the nod.  (He’s now had three head coaches give him starts at VU.)

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Spurrier Says There’s Good Competition At QB

At SEC Media Days last month, Steve Spurrier tried to make it clear that Stephen Garcia would not simply be handed the keys to this year’s offense.  The Carolina senior would have to beat out Connor Shaw for the starting role.

Spurrier says that’s just what’s happening.  “They’re still competing,” he told The Anderson Independent Mail.  “Connor was just as good as Stephen today, but Stephen I think has played a little bit better in most of the scrimmages thus far this year.  We’ll see what happens Saturday and go from there.”

Saturday will be the Gamecocks first full scrimmage of the preseason.

“We’re looking for guys who can play their assignments.  We’re looking for the quarterback play to be very good — better than maybe it’s been.”

We still think it’s unlikely that Spurrier would have put up with as much guff from the media for bringing Garcia back if he weren’t intending to once again run his offense.  Unless the veteran really gags in upcoming scrimmages, it’s hard to imagine Shaw beating him out with a possible SEC title run on the line.

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USC’s Garcia Considered Transfer After Last Suspension

“Last” or “latest?”  Word choice can be tricky when you’re dealing with Stephen Garcia and his string of five suspensions.

If the headline reads, “last suspension,” you can be sure that someone will point out that Garcia is fully capable of landing yet another — sixth — suspension.  If headline reads “latest suspension,” some might think the South Carolina quarterback has received his sixth already.

So we rolled the dice with “last.”

That said, the AP reported yesterday that Garcia considered transferring from Carolina after being suspended this spring, his fifth as a Gamecock.

“I had been contemplating giving myself a second shot” at another school the QB said.  “It was a rough spring I had.”

But Garcia — who has already graduated — chose to remain in Columbia.  Steve Spurrier has said since SEC Media Days that his assumed starter has turned over a new leaf and finally changed some of his off-field ways.

This fall, he will compete with Connor Shaw for the Cocks’ starting job.  While Spurrier is fully capable of flip-flopping his passers, we fully expect Garcia to take the field first in Carolina’s opener.  You don’t take the media bashing that goes with handing out a sixth chance to a player unless you want that player to contribute.

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SEC Headlines 8/1/2011

1. Texas A&M and Missouri?  The latest SEC expansion rumors.  The Texas Longhorn Network controversy may be decided today.  A&M goes to the NCAA to get the network stopped from airing high school games.

2. Whatever happens in the Big 12 would start other dominoes falling.

3. Kirk Herbstreit: “I think Arkansas is this year’s version of Auburn.”

4. South Carolina quarterback Stephen Garcia expected to be reinstated today.

5. Marcus Lattimore and Alshon Jeffery will provide the offensive firepower for South Carolina this year.

6. A preseason view of the Gamecocks from Florida.

7. Kentucky has the ingredients for a better defense this year.

8. Four players who could be crucial for Tennessee this fall.

9. The Volunteers have experience in three key areas – at quarterback, offensive line and in the secondary.

10. Georgia’s new strength and conditioning program - the rest of the story.

11. Breaking down Florida’s receiving corps.

12. Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen says the SEC West is the toughest division in all of college football.

13. Could the Bulldogs Chad Bumphis blossom into a 1,000 yard wide receiver?

14. A question about Nick Saban, NCAA rules and the T-Town Meanswear controversy.

15. Off-field scandals and bringing accountability to college sports.

16. Vanderbilt’s John Jenkins makes the final training roster for the USA Basketball World University Games. Darius Miller made the cut and so did Alabama’s JaMychal Green.

17. An outsider adjusts to life in SEC Country.

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SEC Headlines – 7/29/11 Part One

1.  Quick blurb — Will Muschamp is closing Florida’s practices to fans and media.

2.  The Georgia-Boise State game is now a sellout.

3.  Do Kentucky’s Joker Phillips and Louisville’s Charlie Strong grasp the urgency of their situations?

4.  UK can’t have any official involvement with an Rupp Arena exhibition game featuring John Calipari’s Dominican Republic team taking on a group of Wildcat legends.

5.  Calipari is pushing ticket sales for the exhibition on his Twitter page.

6.  Stephen Garcia and GA Mangus are expected to be reinstated next week at South Carolina.

7.  Both Tennessee and Alabama have schedule upcoming football games against Chattanooga.   UT and UTC haven’t played since 1969.

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