South Carolina suspends starting QB Mitchell

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- South Carolina starting quarterback
Blake Mitchell was arrested after a bar fight Wednesday and has been
suspended from playing.

Mitchell was booked at Richland County jail for simple assault,
a misdemeanor, police said. He was released Wednesday afternoon
following a bond hearing and left the jail around 7:30 p.m. ET,
avoiding reporters who waited for him at the main entrance.

A Columbia police report said the 21-year-old Mitchell punched
Kylan Ertzberger in the left eye during a fight in a bar near the
university early Wednesday.

Ertzberger told police Mitchell approached him about 1:45 a.m.
and "initiated a verbal confrontation." Ertzberger told Mitchell
"he did not like that the subject tried to enter [the bar] with
underage girls."

After Wednesday's practice, coach Steve Spurrier said he wanted
to wait for all the facts to come in before judging Mitchell's

While suspended from playing, Mitchell will remain on the team,
Spurrier said.

"I was disappointed he got into a little fight. If he was out
with his girlfriend and he wasn't drunk or whatever ... that's what
college kids do," Spurrier said. "I went to college once. But we
were in before 1:30. In our day, 12 was a late night."

The team does not have a Tuesday night curfew, but players are
encouraged to be in around midnight, Spurrier said.

Mitchell, a junior, joined the program in 2003, redshirted his
freshman year and started 11 games last season.

This season, Mitchell completed 28 of 44 passes for 247 yards
with one interception and no touchdowns for the Gamecocks (1-1),
who play Wofford on Saturday.

Even before the arrest, Mitchell probably would not have played
this weekend because of injuries he suffered in South Carolina's
first two games, Spurrier said.

The coach said he was not ready to announce who would replace
Mitchell at quarterback for the start of the Wofford game. The
backup quarterback is freshman Chris Smelley, although senior
receiver Syvelle Newton has thrown 139 passes in his Gamecock

At Wednesday's bond hearing, Mitchell had little to say, and the
magistrate ordered him to have no contact with the alleged victim.

A message left for Ertzberger was not immediately returned.

Mitchell's attorney Neal Lourie said Mitchell turned himself in
as soon as he heard about the charges. "He seems like he's doing
very well, very fine at this point," Lourie said.

It's not the first time a starting South Carolina quarterback
has gotten into trouble. In 1993, Steve Taneyhill was arrested for
underage possession of beer at a party the night after the
Gamecocks defeated Georgia 23-21 in Athens.

He pleaded no contest and performed 30 hours of community
service in exchange for having the charge removed from his record.