Report: USC doubted Shaw’s story from beginning

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The fallout from an alleged act of heroism continues, with additional details slowly beginning to emerge.

Citing a source within the USC athletic department, USA Today‘s David Leon Moore is reporting “that a number of department officials spoke to [Josh] Shaw about his rescue story and expressed skepticism about it.” Shaw recently suffered what’s described as a pair of high-ankle sprain, which he told the school he incurred after jumping from a second-floor balcony to save his seven-year-old nephew from drowning.

The news surfaced thanks to the football program’s official website touting the act of bravery with a splashy headline and story below it. If there was doubt as to the veracity of Shaw’s story, why would a website affiliated with the school play up such a version when they knew it would go national and become huge news?

This report comes less than a day after multiple reports coming out of Los Angeles have established that a “Josh Shaw” could be wanted for potential questioning in connection to a possible break-in at an apartment a few miles from campus. It has not been determined that the Shaw in question is USC’s Shaw, although witness descriptions seem to fit.

Following practice Wednesday, head coach Steve Sarkisian again addressed the situation. After originally saying that the program was in the process of vetting Shaw’s story, Sarkisian now says he’s handed off that responsibility.  From the Los Angeles Times:

“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.”

For the first time since the events unfolded, Trojan players were permitted to speak to the media.  Or, more specifically, defensive players Leonard Williams and Hayes Pullard.  Both players said they have not yet spoken to their beleaguered teammate, with the former stating that the team is “shocked” over the developments.

“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.”

Football-wise, Shaw, a starter, will be sidelined indefinitely because of the injuries he incurred… however he incurred them.

Alabama QB Jalen Hurts uses photo of Clemson celebrating title win as motivational phone background

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Nick Saban said last week that the loss to Clemson in the the national championship game earlier this year is one that he’ll never get over, although he didn’t go so far as to compare it to a death in the family. One playing member of Saban’s Alabama Crimson Tide team is taking to steps to ensure that he never forgets, either.

Jalen Hurts was the Tide’s talented true freshman starting quarterback who helped lead ‘Bama into the title game and, with a 30-yard touchdown run with just over two minutes left, gave his team a 31-28 lead. That lead was short-lived, however, as Deshaun Watson led his Tigers on an epic 88-yard drive that was capped by his two-yard touchdown pass with just one tick left on the clock for the 35-31 win.

The stunning last-second loss is something that Hurts makes a conscious effort to remind himself of daily as the rising sophomore, as the background on his smartphone, has a picture of Clemson players celebrating their win.

“We’re obviously all on our phones all the time,” Hurts said according to al.com after this past weekend’s spring game. “Every time I unlock it, it’s kind of a reminder. It kind of humbles me and keeps me motivated. …

“It’s not a grudge at all. It’s just something that keeps it on the back of your shoulder like, yeah, it’s still there. Remember why you’re doing it because at the end of the day, the goal for this team is to win the national championship.

Father of former Florida State WR Travis Rudolph killed in accidental shooting

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The father of Florida State wide receiver Travis Rudolph was killed Friday in an accidental shooting, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement on Monday.

According to the Sheriff’s Office, Darryl Rudolph was working on repairs inside a West Palm Beach, Fla., when a gun accidentally fired in an adjacent room, hitting him in the back/neck area. He was transported to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 55 years old.

The younger Rudolph was Florida State’s leading receiver over the past two seasons before becoming an early-entrant into this week’s NFL Draft. He gained viral notoriety after a photo snapped of him sitting at lunch with an autistic elementary school student hit Facebook.

“When I used to coach and help other kids with football, basketball and sports, Travis was small but he used to pay attention to what I was doing,” the elder Rudolph said in an interview with ESPN last year. “I told them get your education. You can be the best athlete in the world, but without an education, you’re not going very far. That’s what Travis followed through on.”

LSU QB Danny Etling undergoes back surgery

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LSU quarterback Danny Etling has undergone surgery to relieve back pain, the program announced Monday.

“Danny had a minor back procedure this morning and everything went alright,” head coach Ed Orgeron said in a statement (and not in an Arrested Development way).

Etling has played through back pain for months, according to Ross Dellenger from The Advocate, and this procedure should remove that pain.

In a possibly related story, Etling went 4-of-11 for 53 yards in LSU’s spring game.

A transfer from Purdue, Etling appeared in 11 games for the Tigers last season, completing 160-of-269 passes (59.5 percent) for 2,123 yards (7.9 yards per attempt) with 11 touchdowns against five interceptions.

Etling’s recovery from Monday’s procedure is expected to be a short one.

Willie Taggart defends Oregon’s offseason workouts in interview

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Things got off to a rocky start for new Oregon head coach Willie Taggart. Among the issues Taggart was forced to deal with soon after accepting the job of head coach at Oregon was players falling ill during and after offseason workouts.

Three Ducks were hospitalized in January to treat symptoms of rhabdomyolysis, a product of overworking leading to soft tissue and possible kidney damage. Oregon suspended strength and conditioning coach Irele Oderinde following the hospital treatments to players, and questions about his certification were thrust under a microscope. Despite the unfortunate situation in Eugene, Taggart has defended his program’s workout routine in an interview with Stewart Mandel of FOXSports.com.

“We know we didn’t do anything to try to hurt our kids. We’d done [the same program] everywhere we’ve been and never had a problem,” Taggart explained in the interview. “I think our guys just overworked themselves and didn’t hydrate. … They were trying to impress the new coaches.”

It seems Taggart has been trying to raise the bar at Oregon and find a way to make his new players tougher overall. That is a common strategy for a new coach in a new program, so Taggart’s mission is not unique in that sense.

Maybe it was just a tough physical transition in the approach to workouts after years of Chip Kelly and Mark Helfrich running the show. Will this all pay off in the end? Taggart sure hopes so.