Updated SEC notes: Spurrier defends handling of QB Stephen Garcia

South Carolina tailback Marcus Lattimore is engulfed by a media swarm at SEC Media Days on Wednesday. (AJC photo by Chip Towers)

South Carolina tailback Marcus Lattimore is engulfed by a media swarm at SEC Media Days on Wednesday. (AJC photo by Chip Towers)

SEC FOOTBALL  NOTEBOOK

Hoover, Ala. Steve Spurrier has been criticized for his handling of quarterback Stephen Garcia, who currently is “kind of on probation” after being suspended five times in his career for alcohol-related problems.

Garcia was cleared to resume team activities this summer. It’s generally thought that the senior will assume his duties as the starting quarterback when preseason camp starts next month. But Spurrier said Wednesday that’s not necessarily the case.

“People assume that be him and Connor Shaw will battle it out pretty good,” Spurrier said. “Stephen may be our best quarterback but we’ll have some good competition.”

Shaw is a sophomore from Flowery Branch who played in nine games last season and completed 70 percent of his passes for 223 yards and a touchdown and two interceptions as Garcia’s backup.Garcia is the leading returning passer in the SEC with 3,059 yards with 20 TDs and 14 interceptions.

Spurrier was asked if he thought he’d treated Garcia differently than he would, say, a backup tight end.

“No, I think I’d treat a backup tight end the same way,” he said. “Basicially he’s a good kid and a good person. And he’s really made some lifestyle changes to try to deal with this. We feel like he deserves another chance.”

Muschamp shows poise at podium

Will Muschamp, a Georgia graduate and football letterman, did a decent job volleying with the press during his first stint on the podium as an SEC head coach. The former Texas defensive coordinator and head-coach-in-waiting was hired to succeed Urban Meyer as Florida’s head coach in December.

Following were some of Muschamp’s notable quotes from Wednedsay.

  • On taking over an established program like Florida: “It’s great to be a head coach right now. We’re all undefeated right now and nobody’s made a dumb call yet on third and long.
  • On fan feedback: “My email is full of suggestions from the Gator Nation. But I try to listen to Urban Meyer a lot more. He’s been a great help.”
  • On how much input he has on the offense: “I’m a defensive coach. I hired Charlie Weis to run our offense. He has 40 years of NFL experience. What am I going to tell him?”

There was a testy moment when a Florida beat writer was pressing Muschamp on whether running back/receiver Jeff Demps was going to return to play his senior season or continue as a track professional.

Said Muschamp: “Based on our conversations he’ll be playing for us this fall. I like to deal with these kinds of things eyeball to eyeball. He’s in Italy right now and I ain’t ever been to Italy.”

Neiron Ball out for Gators

Speaking of Florida, it appears the football career of defensive end Neiron Ball of Jackson may be over. At the very least he won’t be playing this fall. Ball suffered a sort of stroke before last season and has been diagnosed with a vascular condition.

“As of Monday, he’s on a spiritual retreat in Colorado and will not physically be a part of our football team this fall,” Muschamp said. “We’ll revisit that January. But that’s OK. The No. 1 priority for Neiron is his health and we’re just happy he’s doing well.”

Petrino likes Hogs’ depth at TB

Georgia’s depth issues at tailback heading into the season are well documented. Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino touched on why that’s problem in the SEC.

The Razorbacks appear well set at the league’s glamour position. They sport the SEC’s leading returning rusher in Knile Davis, get back fleet-footed Dennis Johnson from a medical redshirt season and believe they have a budding star in rising junior Ronnie Wingo Jr.

“I’ve always believed you have to have depth at tailback,” said Petrino, who has also coach the Atlanta Falcons. “As the year goes on your running backs are the ones who take all the big hits and that wears on them. You have to be able to go to somebody without missing a beat. . . . I also try to get Knile to the fourth quarter where he’s fresh and strong.”

Georgia also is heading into the season with three tailbacks, but they’re a considerably less proven group. Richard Samuel, who played tailback in 2009 and ‘10, was moved to the position from linebacker last week. He’ll lead a group into the first game that includes freshmen Isaiah Crowell and Ken Malcome.

Richt confirms Thomas suspension

Georgia coach Mark Richt still hasn’t talked to local media about the Carlton Thomas suspension reported by the AJC on Monday (he’ll meet the press here Thursday morning). But he confirmed it in an interview with an Idaho radio station on Tuesday.

Carlton Thomas will not be able to play in this ballgame for a suspenstion,” he told 93.1 The Ticket while explaining why the Bulldogs’ had just three tailbacks remaining. “We might have to teach one of our fullbacks some tailback just in case somebody gets hurt.”

Less contact in practices?

The Ivy League on Wednesday announced that it is reducing the number of full-contact practices teams it teams will be permitted to hold in an effort to minimize head injuries and recurring concussions among its football players.

The SEC has not adopted such a policy, not yet anyway.

“We have not had that discussion, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t talked a lot about concussions and head injuries,” SEC Commissioner Mike Slive said. “But player safety is a matter of great importance to everybody in conference.”

Richt has greatly reduced the amount of contact in the Bulldogs’ the last few years and even eliminated two-a-day practices last year. No word yet on what his plans are this season.

Meanwhile, Spurrier, for one, is all for it. He said he favors little to no full contact in the Gamecocks’ practices.

“To me it doesn’t make sense to get your own players injured in practice,” he said. “you have to be smart enough to know that when the game comes it’s real football. When the Army practices they don’t use live bullets, do they?”

THIS AND THAT

A documentary on Georgia’s Herschel Walker will be the first episode on a new series called “Storied” that ESPN has developed on the SEC. It’s the first of four shows that will air this fall and will debut on Sept. 7 at 8 p.m. on ESPNU. There are preliminary discussions of a premiere in Atlanta on that date. . . .

Georgia is putting on sale on Monday morning “several hundred” $55 tickets for the Chick-fil-A Game against Boise State . . . . UGA announced a 1 p.m. kickoff for its Sept. 17 game against Coastal Carolina. . . . FOX Sports Net (FSN) announced its games for the first three weeks of the season: Sept. 3, 7 p.m. — East Carolina vs. South Carolina (in Charlotte); Sept. 10, 7 p.m.  — UAB at Florida; Sept. 17, 7:30 p.m. — North Texas at Alabama. . . .

Funny tweet from Wes Rucker of 247Sports.com during viewing of video clips from the Walker documentary.: “Watching video clips of Herschel Walker. This is something my South Georgia relatives do every week.”

Spurrier on Slive’s proposal to make scholarships multi-year agreements: “No, that’s a terrible idea, Commissioner. . . . The Commissioner and I agree on a lot of things but that’s not one there.”

Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen on Spurrier pointing out that Mullen flies around in a jet: “But I haven’t played Augusta National.”

47 comments Add your comment

powerhouse?

July 20th, 2011
9:38 pm

Did you ask spurrier about his over signing? He recently cut a SA that played last couple of year…because someone took his place.

cherry point dawg

July 20th, 2011
9:43 pm

cherry point dawg

July 20th, 2011
9:44 pm

oh well next time…..go dawgs!

JB

July 20th, 2011
9:47 pm

Spurrier can coach. He thinks a lot of himself…………He’ll look the other way to keep his best players available…………He’s too close this time.

Spike 80DF

July 20th, 2011
9:54 pm

“kind of on probation” says it all. that scum bag will kick Garcia off the team once he loses the job and is no longer needed, just wait and see.

Brucerugby79

July 20th, 2011
10:04 pm

thanks for the time on Herchel doc dvr will be set

Lowcountry Bulldawg

July 20th, 2011
10:04 pm

O the tease about the Uniform Chip. Must have been to the Mike Greenberg school of leaving the audience hanging. The Nike Combat uniforms is what I am hearing.

Wreckmaniac

July 20th, 2011
10:30 pm

Gee whiz. Nobody cares. Only 7 comments ?

@Wreckmaniac

July 20th, 2011
10:46 pm

There is a big World of Warcraft on-line convention underway. Most of the usual posters are in attendance.

AltamahaDawg

July 20th, 2011
10:48 pm

Translation: “I’m retiring next year so I really don’t care what the back up TE does either”.

PowerDawg

July 20th, 2011
11:05 pm

Garcia “deserves another chance”? No problemo with giving someone, anyone a second chance. Under the right circumstances and for all the right reasons, maybe three.

But S-I-X ?

This kid obviously has a problem with alcohol. It would be terrible if he has become a full-blown alcoholic at the age of 23, but it happens all the time. If that is his case, he will get worse before he gets better. Unfortunately, most hit rock bottom before they decide to look up and ask for help. Just ask anyone who suffers from this demon disease. Good luck to him.

His play is All-SEC caliber when he’s wasted, you know.

When he plays relaxed and with wreckless abandon he is, you know, uninhibited by the stress,anxiety or hugeness of the moment. That’s also when he becomes a real gun-slinger and he is truly lights-out better. Said he had some of his best games when he was blitzed, and not by opposing defenses.

Sad, really.

Allen Taylor

July 20th, 2011
11:12 pm

Powerdawg comes across as jealous and insecure. Garcia’s transgressions are many but none rise to the level of things Georgi’s players have done and not been punished for. Domestic violence anyone? Driving under suspension?

Carlton

July 20th, 2011
11:21 pm

#Allen:

REALLY?? You’re supporting someone who has been suspended FIVE times for alcohol infringements..with the latest one being Garcia showing up to an Alcohol awareness seminar drunk..man..South Carolina continues to be the back-woods redneck college of the SEC

Carlton

July 20th, 2011
11:24 pm

Just because Spurrier wants to win more badly than he wants to discipline his players (something Mark Richt has done THROUGHOUT his tenure as UGA’s coach) doesn’t mean it’s right. I’m suprised the NCAA doesn’t investigate this..this kid needs to go through a drug rehab program or at least be in AA as a stipulation..yet, Spurrier doesn’t care. He knows the back-up won’t do anything for his team, so he keeps reinstating..

P_The_Ricker

July 20th, 2011
11:31 pm

About Garcia:

Obviously whatever Spurrier and staff are doing is not helping Garcia combat his demons. Maybe if he thought more about the player (as he suggests) and less about football, he’d care about getting the kid actual help, rather than trying to keep him on the football team.

Spurrier could still look after the kid……even if he’s not playing on the team.

I’ve heard some positive stories about Spurrier and his interactions with the student body while at FL, but there’s no skating around the issue here…Spurrier’s attn is solely on trying to win football games here and not Garcia’s health.

PowerDawg

July 20th, 2011
11:42 pm

Hey Allen-

Jealous and insecure? About what? If your “feathers” got ruffled because I was stating facts about his situation with a compassionate and regretful tone, that’s your problem, pal.

And the part about him being under the influence during games? If it’s a lie, he is the one that told it because he said as much during an interview last year. Even then I was complimentary.

Hopefully that is the way he will ultimately find the help he needs. Talking about his problems and realizing the serious mistakes he has made when it comes to alcohol. I respect him for that.

I respect him, but it doesn’t mean he should keep getting forgiven over and over for the same alcohol-related issues. That enables him to continue the bad behavior, and does not address a fix for his problem.

That was my opening point. Apparently you don’t read well or at the very least you don’t bother getting the whole story before spitting out your misguided opinions.

Columbus

July 20th, 2011
11:49 pm

Driving with license suspended….wow thats a big one. I dont remember what the dosmetic violence deal was specifically but I know they try their best to put that charge on any man whenever there is a domestic dispute call because of pressure by womens groups. It could have been something significant or it could have been absolutely nothing.

UGA '05

July 21st, 2011
12:06 am

The domestic violence thing was at Florida. Allen is getting his teams confused b/c he was trying his best to protect Garcia. And to say Garcia should not be forgiven is wrong, he can be forgiven but he has had enough chances. Forgive him and forget about him. Off to bed. Don’t have time to stay up and argue. I have a life tomorrow.

Lasso

July 21st, 2011
12:09 am

“We really believe Stephen deserves another chance. If we felt differently, we’d have to go with Connor Shaw at QB. And that ain’t happening, let me tell you.”

RED DOG 77

July 21st, 2011
2:06 am

Garcia, Garcia, Garcia…………Man do I ever hope Spurrier keeps Garcia in the Georgia game until it is too late to come back!………Conner Shaw on the other hand was raised by a football coach, has a great work ethic, is a damn good QB, and is the future for South Carolina football. Garcia on the other hand can be rattled, just send in those LBs coach Grantham, and we’ll get picks all day long!………….Georgia hammers South Carolina, S.C. brings in Shaw who plays a whale of a game…………..But this time, too little too late……….Georgia 30…….South Carolina 24

Win P.

July 21st, 2011
3:11 am

Do football coaches remind you of political candidates? Most will do or say anything to get into office/position, or keep the office/position if they already have it. There is some logic to this..you cannot do much if you are on the outside. Kids, S/As, are part of the machinery. If broken, fix or replace them. I would not put Richt into this category.
On the combate uniforms, it is another gimmick, and UGA has not done well recently with gimmicks. Wait until after we win the game and then give them the new uniforms. Suppose this gimmick is mostly for Nike’s benefit.

Deverauxdawg

July 21st, 2011
6:54 am

That really chaps my tail. I’ve had season tickets for over a year and got money back because I didn’t get all the tickets I ordered and then they put several hundred up for sale. Hey here’s a novel idea, lets fill all the requests from people that have supported the program first. Dadgum they need some people around there with some sense.

Deverauxdawg

July 21st, 2011
7:05 am

Decade not year decade!

Ga > usc

July 21st, 2011
8:03 am

Georgia upsets USC in athens—take it to the bank. This dawg roster is loaded and Ga will win the SEC east. Florida will be way down and Richt will own muschamp for years. Spurrier will make up special rules for garcia to stay eligible. He’s been in trouble more than lindsey lohan.

KeepDreaming

July 21st, 2011
8:42 am

Hahaha, good shot from Mullen. Someone’s gotta keep Spurrier on his toes!!

TallaDawg

July 21st, 2011
9:08 am

Awesome comment by Mullen re: Augusta National. I would rather play Augusta than ride in a private jet.

Big Ten Champs Nebraska....Dawg

July 21st, 2011
9:17 am

AltamahaDawg

July 21st, 2011
9:33 am

You are right Allen, players actually missing games for a traffic ticket pales in comparison to the strong hand of justice dealt Garcia. Does anyone appreciated how difficult it must have been for him to hold that smirk on his face while going through that role play in Spurriers office the SIXTH time. And putting his stuff back in his locker all over again. It’s a real hassle. Although I imagine the equipment manager didn’t bother to take much of anything out about the 3rd or 4th time.

GeoffDawg

July 21st, 2011
9:37 am

How does Spurrier not catch more grief over playing a QB that’s been suspended FIVE TIMES!?! If Coach Richt did that, you’d need more bandwidth to handle all the smarmy tech comments that would pour in.

DawginLex

July 21st, 2011
9:40 am

first things first:

It is a shame about Neiron Ball. We should all put down our school colors and join together and pray for that young man.

As far as Garcia is concerned, I have one word for the ole ball coach

DESPERATION

He knows he has a shot this year WITH Garcia. Without him, forget about it. Coming to the end of his career, SC has never won anything and he joins the long line of win at all costs coaches by re-instating a QB 5 times including 1 time where he showed up with alcohol on his breath to a “Character Class”.

DESPERATION

GeoffDawg

July 21st, 2011
9:45 am

Allen – Georgia has a zero tolerance approach towards violence against women. Hence why Zach Mettenberg is now wearing yellow and purple.

AltamahaDawg

July 21st, 2011
10:13 am

need more bandwidth to handle the tech fans. So true. BUT I guarantee you every South Carolina fans with a blog opinion would be bashing Richt for that as well.

Tobias Funke

July 21st, 2011
10:16 am

I can’t wait to see SOS slam his visor down. 20-17 Dawgs.

Ol' Ball Coach

July 21st, 2011
10:21 am

Yeah, Garcia’s kind of on suspension…You see the way I do it for my starting QB is I put him on suspension when the cops bring him back from another drunken rampage. Then I take him off suspension right before the game and then I put him back on suspension right after the game. That way he learns a life lesson without hurting MY record. We have to take care of my ego first and foremost–that’s the important thing here.

Ol' Ball Coach

July 21st, 2011
10:22 am

Of course if Garcia were just some third stringer I would have run his butt out of town years ago.

WDE

July 21st, 2011
10:30 am

@Big Ten Champs Nebraska….Dawg sorry there Bubba we just ain’t leaving a SEC media day blog to see how well the corn is growing..

Rusty Shackleford

July 21st, 2011
10:31 am

Name one thing Garcia has done illegally and been arrested for since his RS freshman year. Last I checked, drinking wasn’t a crime.

Yes, Spurrier was asked about the walk-on that got 2 years of scholarship after losing his track scholarship and did not receive a 3rd year of football scholarship, so would have to return to walk-on status just like he was when he walked on the football team. That’s not an oversign.

AJC comments section is the cesspool of dawg nation.

DawginLex

July 21st, 2011
10:39 am

Hey rusty,

You are wasting your time defending spurrier on this with Garcia.

If Garcia played for Richt, Dooley or Muschamp, he would be the starting QB at Wofford right now and you know it.

Spurrier’s coaching clock is ticking and he knows he can win with Garcia so he justifies putting him back on the team 5 times because “he is a good kid”.

fmgc

July 21st, 2011
10:39 am

It is great to see how Spurrier is still in the dawg’s head . . . Can’t get him out of your mind, can you?

headley lamar

July 21st, 2011
10:42 am

Name one thing Garcia has done illegally and been arrested for since his RS freshman year. Last I checked, drinking wasn’t a crime.

I love Garcia at QB. There is always the chance he gets tanked the night before the game and throws 5 or 6 picks.

He really isn’t that good anyway.

Just Wonderin'

July 21st, 2011
11:02 am

Garcia’s Hijinks:
#1- urinating in a back alley & ran from police (underage drinking -lot of that going around)
#2- keyed a visiting professor’s car (this is only serious offense)
#3- sitting on lawn w/cooler drinking w/other teammates (no media on other teammates)
#4- investigated for pulling a fire alarm/using fire extinguisher (oops)
#5- violated curfew @ bowl week with women in room & other teammates (no media on other teammates)
#6- asked to leave seminar, smelled of alcohol -he & teammates had been to a teammate’s birthday party – other teammates smelled of alcohol & were unruly & asked to leave (no media on other teammates)
As one can see – a long list but not many “nasties.” Part of last suspension involved some sort of treatment/counselling completion. Hopefully for his sake, he successfully completed that & will be on the right track for his future.

WDE

July 21st, 2011
11:48 am

@Rusty Shackleford really drinking is not a crime? How about public drunk and driving drunk for a 1000 Alex and.being on probation for drinking and showing up at a team function after drinking isn’t against the law but in a sane world would get you kicked off a team for good if it was your fifth time…and the cesspool is between your ears.

jarvis

July 21st, 2011
4:53 pm

WDE, that waas on hell of a run-on sentence. I’m exhausted from reading it.

AltamahaDawg

July 21st, 2011
5:47 pm

So the SC football team code of conduct is simply…don’t break the law?

Party it on

July 21st, 2011
9:38 pm

garcia got liquored up in his hotel room the night before the chick filet bowl with 2 nude chicks—that’s quite a night!!! He sucked in the game, but probably scored 2 or 3 times the night before!!!!

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