COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Eric Hyman has dealt with criticism at Texas A&M like he did at South Carolina.
Both centered on the star quarterbacks. And there was a lot of misinformation in both cases, Hyman said.
Hymans biggest critics at USC continue to gripe about how Stephen Garcias checkered career finally ended, and they used it to compare with the situation Hyman faced with Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel. Reports said Hyman sat down with Manziel and his parents to talk about Manziels behavior.
Not true, Hyman said.
I didnt sit down with him and his family, Hyman said. I told Johnnys father that the challenge is that Johnnys no longer a freshman, or a sophomore, hes a Heisman. It got repeated so many times that I sat down with him, and I was dictatorial and all that that wasnt true.
The final straw of Garcias case, the only chance of six where he didnt get a reprieve, came midway through the 2011 season, when a random substance abuse test returned positive. Garcia, speaking on Clay Travis podcast in October, claimed that the random tests stopped before the 2011 season and mysteriously re-started the week after USC lost to Auburn, the same time Garcias grandfather had died.
Garcia admitted he had some drinks. The next morning, he was asked to submit by the screener.
I shouldnt have put myself in that position. All of a sudden, after we lose to Auburn, I get popped with a random test, Garcia said. It was very odd.
Hyman didnt dispute that Garcia failed the test. He denied the conspiracy theory that the random tests re-started after the loss.
Theres no truth to that whatsoever, Hyman said. If somebody did that, they did it without me knowing it.
Garcia, Hyman said, reminded him of his brother. Jon Hyman was suspended from West Point for a year, but turned himself around. He created Softspikes, plastic golf cleats that replaced metal ones, and became very successful.
But where Hymans brother recognized his failures and corrected them, Garcia never did.
I wasnt the one that kicked him off the team. He kicked his own self off the team, Hyman said. There was a contract drawn up, and it wasnt my decision. He knew what he was doing, it was his decision. But people want to blame everybody else.
Hyman said he viewed every student-athlete as if they were his son or daughter. He had to call Jadeveon Clowney in for a conference early in Clowneys career about his academic responsibilities, and Clowney listened.
With Garcia and his father, there were numerous conversations and not much change.
My role was to try and help him, Hyman said.
The thing is, with Stephen, eventually, you have to hold people accountable. Stephen had a huge amount of potential, very charismatic, and South Carolina fans connected with him. But when Stephen did things, it was always blaming somebody else.
Garcia is attempting to continue his football career with the Tampa Bay Storm in the Arena Football League, which kicks off its season in March.
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