COLUMBIA,SC (WACH) - Dismissed USC quarterback Stephen Garcia's former teammates say they are sad to see him go, but point out it's time to move forward.
On Wednesday, the Gamecock football team practiced for the second day without their ousted quarterback. Garcia was dismissed from the football program Tuesday after head coach Steve Spurrier said the fifth-year senior violated the terms of a reinstatement contract Garcia agreed to after being suspended from the team for a fifth time last spring.
"He's taking it pretty hard," said backup quarterback Andrew Clifford. "I think he's taken responsibility for his actions and we all support him. We're going to miss him but I think our team's ready to go."
Quarterback Seth Strickland lived with Garcia for one year and calls him a friend. Strickland hopes Garcia can rebound from this latest setback despite the fact that his USC football days are behind him.
"He's supporting us and we're still going to support him,"said Strickland following Wednesday's practice. "Hopefully, it's best for both parties. We're going in different directions, but, hopefully he'll make the best out of it and the team will make the best out of it. Hopefully, Stephen's going to make the most out of his opportunities down the road."
Multiple reports indicate that Garcia failed a random substance abuse test. His father, Gary Garcia, told CBS Sports on Tuesday that his son was dismissed for "having a couple of beers," which violated the zero tolerance policy Garcia agreed to follow. Gary Garcia also pointed out the university was not to blame, rather his son.
Coach Steve Spurrier, who had a hot-and-cold relationship with his enigmatic former quarterback, made his first comments to the media about Garcia's dismissal Wednesday during the weekly SEC coaches teleconference, calling Garcia's dismissal an "unfortunate situation."
Spurrier also deflected criticism that he never praised Garcia enough.
"I try to praise all our players according to how they perform and their commitment level and so forth," said Spurrier. "I wish he had stayed. I wish he could've finished his career as a Gamecock one way or another."
Garcia finished his USC career with 7,597 passing yards, 47 touchdowns and 41 interceptions. He became the third quarterback in school history to throw for more than 7,500 yards in a career, and also ranks third all-time in pass attempts, pass completions and passing touchdowns at the University of South Carolina.
Garcia posted a 20-14 record as a starting quarterback, but was benched in favor of Connor Shaw last week after throwing just four touchdowns and nine interceptions in five games this season.
Garcia tells the Associated Press he may release a statement about his dismissal later this week.