There’s never a dull moment when you have Steve Spurrier at the helm. What started off as an ordinary Tuesday has turned into one of the more interesting and controversial days for South Carolina football in recent history.
The controversy began at Coach Spurrier’s weekly press conference when he refused to field questions in the same room as State reporter Ron Morris. Morris rubbed Spurrier wrong when he wrote an article last spring claiming the coach “poached” point guard Bruce Ellington from the basketball team (something Spurrier adamantly denies). With this as the foundation, and a recent article belittling last Saturday’s 54-3 claiming ‘It was just Kentucky’ fresh on his mind, Spurrier took a stand. He called out Morris (though not directly by name) and made it known that while he has no problem taking criticism, he isn’t going to let fabricated stories about himself or his team be published. He went to private rooms with TV personnel and other writers so as to exclude Morris from today’s press conference.
But why now? What’s with the timing? Why didn’t he do this at the beginning of the season? At this point in time it was speculated by some internet voices that this was specifically timed so as to keep the pressure off of the team. If the media is all caught up in this headline all week it would give his young team a chance to focus on an important road game without the press on their backs. Clever Spurrier.
But then comes the two o’clock hour.
At the time of writing this, Athletic Director Eric Hyman has yet to hold his press conference explaining the dismissal, but reports are that Garcia failed a random alcohol test administered to him last week. As part of his reinstatement on the team earlier this fall, it was understood that he would have to follow certain guidelines laid down by President Harris Pastides, AD Hyman, and coach Spurrier—some of them no doubt dealing with alcohol. I’m sure we will find out more later on the specifics of the dismissal, but one thing we do know for sure: Stephen Garcia is no longer a part of the South Carolina football team.
At first glance it may appear that these two events are somewhat unrelated, but look a little deeper and you may find some connection. As a good friend of mine pointed out, Spurrier knew what was coming and maybe he wanted to deflect the possibility of having to field questions about Garcia. Or could it have been that he was trying to take some of the attention off of the news about to break and put it on himself? I would tend to say that this was a very calculated move on the part of the Ol’ Ball Coach. Now what exactly his motives are remains to be seen. Conspiracy theories enter here.
There is so much to dissect here, and the next few days will be full of more reports and speculation, but right now it just all feels a little strange. Something isn’t right in Columbia. What is supposed to be one of the biggest seasons in Carolina football history is experiencing a little bit of controversy. How will the team react this Saturday? Will the team be completely behind starting quarterback Connor Shaw, or is a piece of them still with locker room favorite Stephen Garcia?
It’s hard to say at this point in time what sort of effect this Tuesday’s news will have on the field, but one thing is for sure: Saturday in Starkville just got a lot more interesting.