When Josh Shaw told Steve Sarkisian the manner in which he sprained both of his ankles, the USC head coach was a little skeptical.
“For me, it was, ‘Okay, this sounds a little far-fetched. Let me keep digging, keep digging, keep dinging,’” Sarkisian said on The Doug Gottlieb Show. “The thing about it, Josh had never given me – or anybody here – any reason not to believe him. I mean, this guy spoke at our commencement. This guy’s already earned his degree. He’s been working downtown. He’s been elected captain by his teammates. It was hard not to believe him.”
“And then when it finally came out that (he lied), it was disappointing,” Sarkisian continued. “I felt for Josh – because I know that’s not really him. He’s a kid who panicked and did the wrong thing and didn’t know what to do about it. I wish he had done it better from the very beginning because I know the type of person he is, and I really felt bad for him.”
Sarkisian has spoken with Shaw a few times since he admitted to fabricating the story of how he saved his drowning nephew.
“He obviously expressed his willingness to apologize and to be sorry for it and for putting the team in the situation we were put in,” Sarkisian said. “He’s working through it all. We’ll go from there. We’ll see what happens.”
It is unknown when – or if – Shaw will play again for USC.
“First and foremost, he’s got to handle his own stuff legally,” Sarkisian explained. “Wherever that goes and exactly what that is, quite honestly, I don’t even know. But I know it’s not finalized. When that’s done, (he’ll have to earn) back (the trust of) his own teammates, the coaching staff, things of that nature. I know he’s chomping at the bit to do so, but as I’ve told him before, we’re in holding from a football standpoint until his personal stuff is done. When that’s done, then we’ll start focusing on that stuff.”
Sarkisian said both he and the team will decide if Shaw will be welcomed back.
“He put all of us in a tough situation,” Sarkisian said. “None of us are pleased about it. We’re all disappointed about it. But we also know Josh Shaw. We know who he is and (that) he stood for more than just this one instance. It’s going to take some time. It’s going to take some healing. It’s going to take our leadership committee, myself (and) our coaching staff to figure that out. We don’t have to rush to any decisions right now. It’s not on the forefront of our minds, quite honestly. When the time comes to deal with it, we will.”
Unfortunately, Shaw isn’t the only drama USC has had to deal with in recent weeks, as tailback Anthony Brown quit the team and accused Sarkisian of being racist.
“It was borderline laughable,” Sarkisian said. “I think anybody who knows me and has been around me – whether it’s family, friends, coaches, players – they know what I’m about, who I am as a person. Quite honestly, it was a ridiculous claim. I really didn’t give it much credence.”
Luckily, No. 14 UCS was able to compartmentalize all the off-field drama and beat Fresno State, 52-13, this past Saturday.
“We played pretty well,” Sarkisian said. “We weren’t perfect. We had our first-game mistakes like I’m sure a lot of teams around the country had. But I was appreciative of the effort.”
The Trojans will need to give a whole lot more of that if they hope to win this Saturday, as they travel to Palo Alto to take on No. 13 Stanford (1-0). Kickoff is slated for 3:30 p.m. ET.