USC's Mangus: Garcia's status remains up in air
MOUNT PLEASANT -- G.A. Mangus is not all that different these days than South Carolina's fans. The Gamecocks' quarterbacks coach is awaiting word about the team's suspended starting quarterback.
He said, too, that the wait on Stephen Garcia's status could stretch into the summer months.
"Stephen's got to do some things," Mangus said Tuesday at a meeting of the Charleston County Gamecock Club. "We'll see how that all works out. … It's out of my hands. I don't worry about what I can't control."
Garcia remains in limbo after USC athletic director, Eric Hyman, indefinitely suspended him April 6.
The senior acted out and later admitted drinking before an SEC-mandated meeting designed to encourage good life choices beyond college.
The current suspension is the 23-year-old's fifth since arriving on campus, and his second of the spring.
There is no guarantee Garcia will return to the team, but the door has been left open by coach Steve Spurrier, Mangus and others.
Spurrier said after the April 9 spring game that Garcia should graduate, "to keep his options open." Mangus said Tuesday that he expects Garcia -- if it's up to him -- to return to the team for his final season.
Tori Gurley, the former Gamecocks receiver who is hopeful of being drafted next week, said on his Twitter account that Garcia has been throwing with him. Mangus said Garcia has thrown some, too, with Alshon Jeffery.
He also said Garcia has been going to class and expects to graduate next month.
"He's doing everything," Mangus said. "Based on what I've been told, he's been throwing with those guys on a daily basis. He's doing all the things, just like I've asked him.
"People keep asking me if he's going to leave or if he's not planning on coming back. If a guy comes over there and throws with his teammates every single day, and is going to class every day, I'm assuming his plans are to come back."
Mangus joked a couple of different times about his frustration with Garcia, but he also was serious in mentioning how many times each day he speaks with Garcia. Mangus, who played for Spurrier at Florida in the early 1990s, has assumed a mentor role with Garcia since joining the USC staff in 2009.
Mangus, then at Middle Tennessee State, first got to know Garcia when he recruited the Tampa, Fla., native as a high school player.
"For the record, I'm a fan of his," Mangus told a standing-room-only crowd at Point Grill, just before the Gamecocks played the College of Charleston in baseball across the street at Patriots Point. "I like Stephen. He's a good kid. Hopefully he'll get his stuff right and we'll see how it works out.
"I talk to him on a daily basis. Hopefully he'll do the things he's got to do, to get back."
Three of Garcia's hiccups came before Mangus was hired. Mangus admitted there was a large part of him that hoped Garcia's era of transgressions was behind him. But then came his violation of team rules during bowl week in late December, a hotel room party that led to his suspension for the first week of spring practice.
And now there's this suspension with no clear end in sight.
"I've put a lot of time into (Garcia)," Mangus said. "To say I'm not disappointed in some things would be lying. Hopefully, we'll get all that worked out."
Mangus did not comment on whether Garcia is seeking any sort of treatment or counseling for alcohol abuse. He did say some of what is currently happening goes well beyond football.
"These are lifetime lessons and decisions on things," Mangus said of Garcia, who has a 4-year-old son. "Until I get told otherwise, I'm going to try to continue to help him as a young man and get him to where I want him to get to."
Mangus said he does not think Garcia's ever-changing status has been a distraction to the team. He also said Garcia still has general support from his teammates.
"The kids love Garcia. Garcia is a Velcro-type guy," Mangus said. "The kids like hanging out with him. If I was 22, I'd hang out with him."
For now, Connor Shaw remains the team's No. 1 quarterback. Mangus said it was a productive spring for the sophomore, partly because he received more reps in Garcia's absence. He said all that's left for Shaw is to get game experience.
"I think by the end of the summer, Connor's going to be ready to play," Mangus said. "Connor's a kid that I think is ready to take the next step."
Overall, Mangus delivered an upbeat message about the defending SEC Eastern Division champions.
"Our best years of football are ahead," he said. "We're not going to win. We're going to win big."