Stephen Garcia was the quarterback for the University of South Carolina from 2008-2011. In his successful time as a starter, he had a record of 20-14, 7,597 passing yards, 47 touchdowns and 41 interceptions. He also added 777 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns on the ground. In his time as the leader of Steve Spurrier’s offense, he lead the Gamecocks to victories over #4 Ole Miss in 2009 (220 yards and a touchdown) and #1 Alabama. The game against Alabama was Garcia’s best in his time at South Carolina. He picked apart the feared Alabama secondary, and was 17/20 for 201 yards, three touchdowns and one interception.
In 2009 during his sophomore campaign, he threw for three touchdowns to beat archrival Clemson to start a streak of five straight wins.
He played in three bowl games, and led South Carolina to the only SEC Championship Game in school history in 2010.
What was your favorite thing about Columbia off of the football field?
Haha, Not sure where to start with this one. It’s no secret that I enjoyed my time at SC, although some of the stories are slightly exaggerated. I really just enjoyed being around people and enjoyed college life itself.
What was the most fun game you played in while at Carolina?
There are a few games actually. Beating #4 Ole Miss at Williams-Brice was pretty awesome. That was probably the loudest I’ve ever heard that stadium get. Beating Clemson in Death Valley and Florida in the Swamp in 2010 was unreal too. Shutting up opposing team’s fans is definitely one of the best feelings as a football player.
What were you thinking when the referee (Wilbur Hackett Jr.) tackled you down at LSU when you were going for the goal line in 2008?
I thought, “What in the [email protected]#^ just happened??” If you watch the replay, you can see me immediately look at the ref and give him the “WTF” gesture. Funny story, that guy came up to me a few weeks later and told me that his daughter was dating one of my high school wide receivers in Kentucky. Then he said, “You know I didn’t tackle you on purpose right?” To which I responded with, “I call bullshit!” We got a good laugh over it though.
What was your funniest moment with Coach Spurrier?
Oh Lord. There’ve been several Spurrier sayings to me over my career at SC. One thing that sticks out as being “funny” would be my first practice ever at SC in 2007. I was walking out to the field for my first collegiate practice when I looked up and noticed that he wasn’t wearing a shirt. I asked Blake Mitchell what in God’s name coach was doing, and he told me that he does that when the weather is nice and he wants to get a tan. So we’re doing our pre practice warm up drills and I asked coach how he was doing. He told me, “I’m just catching some rays, young Garcia”. I almost pissed my pants laughing.
What was your experience like in Tampa with the Tampa Bay Storm (Arena Football)?
It was pretty different. I went from playing on a normal field to a giant one up in the Canadian Football League to playing on a miniature one in the Arena League. My throwing mechanics had to completely change in order to get the ball out as quickly as possible. I had a really tough time getting used to that mentality, which is why I didn’t play a whole lot. I have a contract offer to play out in Las Vegas, so I may give it one more shot, but don’t know for sure yet. I will say that I was grateful that the Storm gave me a chance to play again, but arena football is a different deal.
What’s the best “Ask Garcia” question you’ve gotten so far?
I’ve gotten some pretty good ones over the course of the season. As you could imagine, there was a lot of “party” related questions. I do remember this Clemson fan asked me if I was still drunk or something, and my response was “I can still throw touchdowns and beat the shit out of your team.” I usually don’t even respond to moronic questions like that, but sometimes I have to throw a jab back every now and then.
How would you sum up your career at Carolina?
I would say it was pretty damn successful to be completely honest with you. Now obviously it didn’t end the way I envisioned it ending, but I still accomplished a lot. Coach Spurrier and SC won the recruiting battle because coach told me one thing that stuck out. He told me I can go to the other schools that were recruiting me and I can win a bunch of games and be part of their long history, or I can come to South Carolina and be the start of a new history. SC hasn’t had exactly a successful program in the long history of the school, but from when I got there in 2007 to where the program is now, it’s freaking night and day. I feel like I was a big part in the change of program and helped as much as I could. As much as Coach Spurrier and I butted heads, we still talk to this day and actually have a good relationship. I just wish that Ray Tanner (current athletic director) had been there during my time. I think my career would have been A LOT different and would have been a lot more successful. Overall, I am still proud to be a Gamecock. From beating the #4 team and #1 team in the country, to starting in the one and only SEC Championship Game in school history, to walking across the stage during graduation, I am proud as hell to be part of the University of South Carolina.
Who was the receiver you had the most confidence in? Was Alshon Jeffery a guy you could just throw near and know he’d make the catch?
Come on man! This is a no-brainer. Of course it was Alshon. The guy was just a stud on the field and really good teammate as well. If I ever had nowhere to go with the ball, I knew I could just sling it up to him and he would either catch it or it’d be incomplete. As a quarterback, that is a great feeling. I will say this; Wes Saunders was another guy that I had a lot of confidence in. I wish we could have gotten the ball to him more often! Both these guys were really great players and great teammates and I talk to them all the time. The relationships I forged with my teammates is something that nobody will ever be able to take away from me.
What’s your favorite spot in Columbia for a good time?
Haha, this is also a no-brainer! My house. I’m sure there are all kinds of stories about the parties I threw and what all happened, and I’ll never confirm nor deny any of them! Like I said earlier, I really enjoyed being around people and the door to my house was always open. I remember coming home from class with my roommate and we had 7 girls in our backyard in the pool. No text message saying they were coming over or anything, they would just show up. I didn’t mind it at all. So to answer your question, my house was my favorite spot in Columbia for a good time haha.
What do you think about the quarterback situation in Columbia for next year? Do you think [incoming freshman] Lorenzo Nunez has a chance to start as a true freshman?
The quarterback situation in Columbia will be an interesting one. As this past season went on, I never heard anything about the back up quarterback, and that is rare for a Spurrier team. I don’t know anything specific, but I’m not sure he has a whole lot of confidence in the guys there now. I don’t know though. As far as Nunez goes, it is a very tough task to come in as a true freshman and start in college, especially in the SEC. He says his high school playbook is similar to the Gamecocks one, so that will definitely help, but getting used to the speed and all that is night and day different than high school. It should be an interesting quarterback battle in the spring but I’m sure coach Mangus and Spurrier will have their guy ready to rock and roll come week 1 next year.
What are your top-5 albums of all time?
1). Fleetwood Mac – Rumours
2). AC/DC – Back in Black
3) Eminem – Marshall Mathers LP
4) Mumford & Sons – Sigh no more AND Babel
5) Metallica – Metallica
Interesting list huh? That was a tough one to answer.
*Section Photo credit to Streeter Lecka, Getty Images; Featured Photo (above) credit to FitsNews