Posted by Jerry Hinnen
In case you heard about his recent indefinite suspension and assumed Stephen Garcia had run out of strikes in his South Carolina career: we suggest today you assume differently.
Steve Spurrier has released a post-spring Gamecock depth chart, and it's still none other than Garcia listed first at quarterback. That listing comes with not one but two qualifications: an "OR" naming Connor Shaw the co-starter, and an asterisk noting that Garcia is currently serving his suspension (His fifth of his career, if you're keeping track.)
But it's also a crystal-clear message that the Ol' Ball Coach is not ready to simply cut his losses with his troubled star and move on. He said last week that Garcia would "hopefully" "be back with us," but added that Garcia's return would be a "university decision." That's no doubt the case, but between his comments and the depth chart, it's obvious that if it's Spurrier's decision, Garcia will be under center for the Gamecocks' season opener this fall.
That's probably not what Shaw or the other Gamecock quarterbacks want to hear, and to their credit, they collectively put together a respectable (if not eye-popping) performance in the Garnet-Black spring game earlier this month. But Spurrier also made it clear that he was less-than-thrilled with their efforts earlier in the spring, and given the kind of ceiling Garcia showed off in outings like the walloping of No. 1 Alabama last year, it's probably going to take more than a decent-to-good spring game to convince an eternal QB skeptic like Spurrier his best option isn't his suspended veteran.
The Garcia soap opera no doubt has another couple of twists and turns to take before the 2011 season. But at this stage, his eventual return seems more likely than not.