Every four years we hear the same refrain in politics: The public may like this candidate or that one, but in the end, Americans will vote for the candidate that they most want to drink a beer with. Americans like leaders who are approachable, maybe a little bit messy, not too put together, even about to surprise (scare?) us. We like our leaders to be about this  much unpredictable.
This preference pretty much applies across the board, and not just with politicians. Let me demonstrate: Name your favorite Star Wars character. You said ‘Darth Vader’ right? Or maybe you said ‘Han Solo’, but I guarantee you didn’t even think of Luke Skywalker. Why? Because Luke Skywalker is boring. Now, think of Gone with the Wind, and I’ll ask the same question. Rhett Butler right? Or maybe Scarlett O’hara, but definitely not Ashley or Melanie Wilkes. The Wilkes were kind, gentle . . .and lame. You see, we do like our heroes with a little bit of the Dark Side in them.
We like Mr. Hyde, not so much Dr. Jekyl. Bruce Banner can be as cool and smart as all hell, but its the Verdant Colossus we’re dying to see. Sure we appreciated Liberaci, but we adored Jerry Lee. We might respect Hillary (I said might, Buck), but Bill is the rock star.
Now to make it more relevant to the sporting world, which 70’s era quarterback is still making money in the business, upright Roger Staubach, or half-crazy common man Terry Bradshaw?
You get the idea. Its a classic Apollonian/Dionysian dichotomy. � Or, to put it another way, we want a leader that we can identify with on the most base of basic levels. Someone as twisted as we secretly recognize ourselves to be. We want a quarterback – to pick an example entirely at random – with a problem or two. Americans, I believe, want a quarterback they can drink a beer with.
Enter Stephen Achilles Garcia.
Before we get deeper in the analysis here, let me acknowledge a few things that are obvious about the Gamecocks’ erstwhile quarterback. The first thing is, of course, the hair. Its almost a mullet, in much the same way that Lake Murray can look like an ocean, but really isn’t. See, Stephen wouldn’t wear something as passe as a mullet, even if ironically. Irony is not Stephen’s rhetorical device of choice. No, instead Stephen opts for deep heartfelt stares as his mode of persuasion. And mullet or no, when he pinches his dark tresses back behind his ears, your ladyfriend sniffs the air gently and her love for you dies just a little bit. The hair might be cut tight now, but trust me, like Samson of old, Garcia knows wherein his power lies. The hair will return.
Then there’s Stephen’s grooming habits. I hate shaving, don’t you? Sure you do,but neither of us hate it as much as Garcia. Needed twice a day, his facial swatch only gets a perfunctory swipe twice a football season. Oh, and don’t be thrown by the golf-shirt-and-eyeblack look in the post-game press conference. He did, in fact,take a post-game shower and change clothes, he just reapplied the eyeblack before the presser to remind everyone that he’s a warrior.
Then there are the statistics. He never leads in any category EVER. But he’s close man, he’s freakin’ close. And if you weren’t such an uptight, Apollonian nerdwad, you would appreciate the everyman poetry of his not-as-of-yet statistical consummation.
Yeah, the middle name throws you. And yeah, he’s got some crazy Greek word tattoed on his inner arm, but we all understand that the name and the tat are babe candy at, respectively, Athens coffee shops and Gainesville biker bars. What kind of crazy crap have you done in the past to score some lovin’? See, ol’ Achilles is right there with you.
Now some may say that Garcia comes with baggage. Some might point to his history with the team and say its time for Carolina to move on. Some may also point out that he has failed to demonstrate leadership and has let the HBC down.
To all of those naysayers I respond with a barbaric ‘Phfffttt!’ Garcia’s baggage includes a couple of too public beers, and couple of too public women, and one juvenile prank. Not exactly on par with Auburn openly paying for players, or Georgia having half their scholarship athletes arrested for felonies last summer. And time to move on? From what, the first quarterback to lead us to a conference trophy in my lifetime? HBC let down? Heck, he’s been let down by every quarterback he’s ever known short of the one who’s initials are S.O.S.
I’m rambling around to arrive at a point, and the point is this: We love you, Stephen, and we want you back. Not in August, or in a month, but yesterday. We want you back yesterday because we want to believe that someone just like us can succeed. You are just like us; just as flawed, just as promising. But it’s not as good of a story-not as American of a story- if you make your comeback at Louisville or Marshall or some other God-awful place. Stick it out here, make the comeback of all comebacks here, and I’ll join the throngs celebrating you as the greatest quarterback in Carolina history.
Heck, I’ll even buy you a beer.