USC is only a few days from Saturday’s opener against Fresno State at the Coliseum, but on Wednesday, the day after his heroism was brought into question, Trojans cornerback Josh Shaw continued to be the focus.
Coach Steve Sarkisian addressed the Shaw situation after practice Wednesday morning.
"It’s pretty clear there’s quite a few conflicting stories out there. Any information that we’ve been provided up to this point we’ve pushed along to campus authorities. We’re really going to let it play out in their hands. And quite honestly we’re in somewhat of a holding pattern so that’s where we’re at."
When asked if he meant administrative officials or legal officials on campus, Sarkisian said, "Everything above me. In this day and age of college football and head coaches responsibility, I’d be foolish not to push everything up the ladder. And you know, I think we learned that a few years ago with a couple other high profile coaches, so everything I’ve ever done when things come across my desk is to push them to campus authorities and let them do their due diligence. Then when things come back to me I can comment on them. But until then I don’t really have much to say on it."
All defensive players are typically made available to the media during game week.
But with the Shaw controversy swirling, only junior defensive end Leonard Williams and senior linebacker Hayes Pullard were allowed to speak with reporters.
Williams said he has not talked to Shaw, but that he was a topic of discussion among the players on Tuesday.
“All the players were just running into each other just asking what’s going on with the story, if its real or not, that’s all we really know. We were pretty shocked because Josh Shaw is a pretty loyal guy since he's been here. I would never expect him to make up a story or something like that. So if it's real or not ... I would never expect him as a captain to be in that situation.”
Pullard also said he has not spoken to Shaw.
"Him and Sark had a meeting together and you know I haven’t seen him since that day. We’re just leaving it to Coach Sark. He’s the head man and that’s who we answer to. Josh has been a great guy. He has a great character and I've never known him to be able to lie about anything, so coming from what I know, Josh is 100%."
Sarkisian discussed whether this has been a distraction as the team prepares to play Fresno State.
"We haven’t spent much time on [Shaw] at all, quite honestly, we’ve put in too much work over the last nine months to let an hour or two of social media and Internet reports distract us from being a great football team," Sarkisian said. "If it does, then that’s not a great sign for us moving forward. We have to be strong enough to handle adversity whether its on the football field or off the field and continue to hang together and be together and go out and play great football."
Shaw was not at practice on Wednesday, but there was plenty of media, with many more cameras than usual.
On Monday night, Shaw trended nationally after The Times and other news sites published a story, based on a story on the school's website, recounting how the senior suffered ankle injuries when he leaped from a second-story balcony and landed on concrete before crawling into a pool to save a nephew who could not swim.
On Tuesday, Sarkisian announced the school was investigating after USC received calls from several people who contradicted the account.
USC has said that Shaw will be sidelined indefinitely because of high-ankle sprains.
Redshirt freshman Chris Hawkins could start in Shaw’s place against Fresno State. Junior Kevon Seymour is the other starting cornerback.
Freshman Adoree' Jackson will back up Seymour, and freshmen Jonathan Lockett and Lamont Simmons also could be called upon.
Shaw, who graduated from Palmdale High, transferred to USC in 2012 after two seasons at Florida. He intercepted two passes in 2012, four last season.