"[South Carolina fans] are some passionate people. Whether they liked me or hated me, they all had an opinion of me."
- Stephen Garcia at 2014 SEC Media Days
The man. The myth. The legend. When it comes to former Gamecock QB Stephen Garcia, he was all that and a little more.
It really was love or hate with the gunslinger. I vividly remember his up and down career.
All of us Gamecock fans heard about the youngster when he was still at Jefferson County High School. A 4 star recruit out of Tampa, Florida, he was compared to the mighty Achilles and proclaimed he wanted to win multiple SEC Titles at Carolina.
I remember how excited I was we got him and the hype surrounding him. I thought Spurrier had finally gotten "his guy". A guy filled with confidence and a little cockiness to go with it. His career soon took turns in the wrong direction as he found himself in trouble and in and out of the doghouse.
When he was on the field though, Garcia was a gamer. There is no doubt about that. I remember his first serious game action, when he led the Gamecocks back from a deficit on the road against Kentucky in 2008. He showed signs of poise and leadership we hadn’t seen from a QB in a long time. The fan base was given hope. Maybe Garcia was it.
From the years 2009 to the beginning of 2011, he was that guy. I personally was and still am a big Stephen Garcia fan. No matter how he played, I always saw something in him that made me a huge fan: heart.
I took time to watch games in which he played well and poorly. Everyone remembers 2010 vs Alabama, by far Garcia’s best career game in garnet and black. There was no better QB in the country that day.
Then there was the 2011 Auburn game. I was in attendance. I left as frustrated and heart broken as I ever have as a Gamecock football fan. I claimed I was done with Garcia. I couldn’t defend him anymore.
After taking time to go back and watch that game, Garcia really didn’t play THAT bad. Sure, he wasn’t at his best. But that specific day was filled with all kinds of wacky bounces including a second that wasn’t put back on the clock that I’m sure everyone remembers. In fairness, Garcia’s career wasn’t always surrounded by the best supporting cast and he took a lot of unfair criticism in my opinion.
To me, Stephen Garcia was everything a Gamecock is. He was a fighter and a warrior. Gamecock nation lived and died by his actions for 5 years. He could either astonish you or make you scratch your head.
You really truly either loved him or hated him.
P.S. Stephen, if you’re reading this, thanks for one hell of a ride during your time at USC. And best of luck in your media career. You’ll always be a Gamecock.
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