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What Are We Going to do With You, Stephen Garcia?

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I'm not sure what makes Stephen Garcia, a relatively meh recruit who's never taken a college snap, so interesting. Maybe it's the flowing locks on glorious display in his angelic mug shot, or the ambiguous sincerity of the absurd Web site devoted to him. If nothing else, the kid is poised to enthusiastically revive the Taneyhill tradition of excessively-coiffed rapscallionism befitting the leader of any team named for an illegal, back alley blood sport, the kind of endearing ne'er-do-wellism in which Blake Mitchell merely dabbled, and such potential draws from a large well of patience where SMQ is concerned.


It's not easy, being Steve.
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Take underage drinking, for example. Garcia is 20 years old, old enough to volunteer to get himself killed, wounded or emotionally scarred for life in a foreign war (hypothetically, of course, if he didn't draw all of his strength and resolve from his hair), and so a beer or two with his older brother is really the least you'd expect on a Saturday evening:
Garcia, 20, was one of three players cited and charged with underage drinking after police found them with coolers of beer outside East Quad dormitory at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, the first of two incidents involving Garcia in a five-hour span at the dorm that houses the majority of USC players.

Garcia, offensive lineman Heath Batchelor and walk-on quarterback Zac Brindise were cited for underage drinking by police responding to students' complaints of loud noise in the courtyard between the East and South Quad dormitories, according to USC spokesman Russ McKinney.
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The law is the law, even if it's kind of a stupid law, so the police did their thing and Garcia, guilty mainly of being stupid enough to get caught with coolers of beer outside a dorm in an age when officials seize with shock amid visions of binge drinking headlines, did his thing (he was fined $257.70, no sneeze for a sophomore). Later, he set off a fire extinguisher for what may or may not have been a valid reason ("Uh, sparks! I swear I saw sparks, officer!") and had his name written on another piece of paper. No handcuffs, no charges, just another fun weekend, especially for the message boards.

As my mom says, though: it's too easy to nickel and dime yourself to death. These things add up. You know, get caught drunk in public or keying a car, anything that leads to a headline that says "South Carolina football player" and "arrested," or even "cited," and pretty soon the newspaper's putting up polls about your future. And you probably won't like the results very much:

I dwell on this as a writer who desperately wants Garcia around for three more years as a character, but mainly out of a measure of sympathy for Steve Spurrier, who doesn't want to boot a kid for such a "boys will be boys" sort of infraction (beer and fire extinguishers? When the Ball Coach was 20, his dorm ran moonshine and hosted weekly freshman-on-gator fights in the lobby) but is also faced with a glut of said infractions - seven since New Year's Eve. These things add up. It's not a decision I'd want to make about the fate of a kid I knew personally, either. He's just one man:

USC coach Steve Spurrier said Garcia's "fate is in the hands of the University of South Carolina."

Asked to clarify, Spurrier said: "They've got a president. They've got an athletic director. They've got a dean. They've got a whole bunch of people over there. So if they say he's here, he'll be here, OK? His fate is out of my hands. Let's put it that way."

Spurrier said he would accept the university's decision on Garcia, who was not at practice Monday.

"He's had a lot of chances here," Spurrier said. "We'll see what happens."
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That's the tough thing about being nonjudgmental: knowing when to quit.