Steve Sarkisian: CB Josh Shaw will have ‘some role’ against UCLA

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What a long and strange trip it has been for USC senior cornerback Josh Shaw.

After a perplexing story of heroism turned fraud, Shaw was indefinitely suspended from the team until Tuesday when he was officially reinstated by the program. No charges were filed in the domestic incident between Shaw and his girlfriend, and the senior returned to practice after the school was notified.

Shaw practiced with the team for the second time Thursday, according to the the Orange County Register’s Michael Lev, and his return to the lineup appears imminent.

USC head coach Steve Sarkisian told Lev after Thursday’s practice that Shaw will have “some role” against the No. 9 UCLA Bruins. The exact nature of Shaw’s role has yet to be determined.

Shaw’s return to the Trojans secondary will be a welcome addition for the naton’s 102nd-ranked pass defense. The senior started 21 games in his career before this season, and it should allow him to adjust quickly to the team’s new defensive scheme.

“He’s played a lot of football,” Sarkisian said. “He’s very bright. He’s able to grasp things quickly.

“Obviously, on game day, things change for a variety of reasons. But I feel good that he’ll have some role to contribute in the ballgame.”

Shaw may have proved to be a distraction for a large portion of this season, but his inclusion to the team can’t come at a better time as the Trojans prepare for the rival Bruins and quarterback Brett Hundley.

Complicated situation behind him, Josh Shaw reinstated by USC

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The saga of Josh Shaw is about to turn a page to the football field. Shaw has been reinstated by USC as of Tuesday evening, meaning there will be a chance to play football this season for the Trojans following one of the more bizarre stories we have seen off the field.

Shaw was under investigation for an incident in August that has concluded with no charges. Shaw’s story from that day was originally shared as a heartwarming story of heroism, in which Shaw allegedly saved his nephew from drowning ina  pool after jumping off a second-story balcony. As it turns out, Shaw was actually running away from police arriving on the scene responding to a distress call. On Tuesday Shaw learned there would be no charges filed against him, which led USC to conduct its own review before making a ruling on his status with the football program. With no charges filed, this part went quickly and USC determined it was appropriate to reinstate Shaw. Shaw had been suspended as the police investigation was ongoing.

“For several months, local authorities have been investigating the August 23 incident involving Josh Shaw,” a statement from USC Athletics Director Pat Haden says. “They have now concluded that investigation and determined that no action will be taken against him. USC also conducted its own internal investigation of Josh, evaluating both athletic department code of conduct and potential NCAA compliance issues. Based on these investigations and their conclusions, and the 10-game suspension Josh has served for code of conduct violations, we have made the decision to reinstate him.”

“I’ve welcomed Josh Shaw back to the team,” a brief statement from USC head coach Steve Sarkisian said. “I’m now in the process of evaluating how Josh can contribute to the team’s success.”

Just how soon Shaw returns to the football field remains unknown. USC plays rival UCLA this weekend and hosts Notre Dame in the regular season finale next week. Shaw seeing the field this week may be unlikely given the timing and importance riding on the outcome of the game in the Pac-12 South. A potential return to face the Irish and any bowl game to follow could be likely.

No charges will be filed against USC’s Josh Shaw

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At least legally, USC’s Josh Shaw is in the clear.  What the meaning is on the football side of the equation remains to be seen.

Both the Orange County Register and Los Angeles Times reported Monday that Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office has declined to file charges against the Trojans defensive back. Police had been investigating an alleged domestic violence incident involving Shaw and his girlfriend.

“[T]here is insufficient evidence to prove that Mr. Shaw assaulted the victim in any manner,” a document obtained by the Register stated. Both Shaw and the alleged victim denied any type of physical abuse took place.

What is clear is that the two got into a loud and heated argument at the apartment they shared in late August. The female left the apartment while Shaw went out on a balcony to cool off. While on the balcony, police officers, who were responding to a call of a potential domestic incident, arrived on the scene.

Seeing the police show up at the building, Shaw decided to jump from the second-floor balcony. In an interview earlier this month, Shaw attempted to explain his decision.

“We were not on good terms when she left, I thought she had somebody call authorities. I was thinking the worst,” he said. “If she did say anything, I’m a black man with dreadlocks, and with everything going on in the country at the time, all that stuff in St. Louis [Ferguson, Mo.] … in my mind, I’m going to leap from the balcony so authorities did not see me.”

Shaw sustained two high-ankle sprains as a result of his decision. The senior further exacerbated the situation by lying to USC officials about how he was injured, telling them that he had jumped from a balcony in an attempt to save his nephew from drowning.

After that story gained national attention, it quickly began to unravel and Shaw was ultimately suspended by the football program. Even as Shaw was medically cleared in mid-September, he has remained suspended.

What impact if any the DA’s decision to not file charges will have on his status with the team remains to be seen.  The school stated that, now that the police investigation is over, it will conduct an investigation of its own.  There’s no timetable for a determination on Shaw’s status moving forward.

The Trojans have two regular season games remaining — this weekend against UCLA, next weekend against Notre Dame — as well as a bowl game.

USC’s Josh Shaw speaks publicly about ‘fabrication’ gone wild

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A feel-good story of heroics back in late August quickly unraveled and turned USC’s Josh Shaw into a national punchline.  Lying about saving his nephew from drowning led to an indefinite suspension that has kept the cornerback from playing a single down his senior season.

Shaw had yet to speak publicly about how he became entangled in the fabricating business… until now.

In an interview with Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times, Shaw confirmed that he suffered a pair of high-ankle sprains jumping from the balcony of his girlfriend’s apartment following a loud argument with her.  What preceded the infamous leap was Shaw looking out a window and seeing police cars pulling up to the building, leading him to assume his girlfriend had called the cops.  Shaw said a volatile situation halfway across the country led to a decision that will likely lead to him never playing a down again for the Trojans.

“We were not on good terms when she left, I thought she had somebody call authorities. I was thinking the worst,” he said. “If she did say anything, I’m a black man with dreadlocks, and with everything going on in the country at the time, all that stuff in St. Louis [Ferguson, Mo.] … in my mind, I’m going to leap from the balcony so authorities did not see me.”

Shaw said, as soon as he landed, he knew right away that he was injured, although he feared he shattered both of his legs. Instead of calling head coach Steve Sarkisian, or even his father — “My father is someone with wisdom, my father would have me tell the truth, we would have called Sark that night.” — Shaw called his brother, who came and picked him up. While at his brother’s house, he concocted the story that would prove to be his downfall.

What Shaw didn’t expect is exactly what happened: the story went viral after the school released what they thought were the feel-good details of how the player incurred his injuries. Shaw said he knew things had spiraled out of control when he saw the story being replayed on Sportscenter. Still, he kept up the lie because he “was in way too deep” to back out.

“I didn’t think it could be proved that story was not true,” he said. “My sister [Asia] was having a party … my cousin does have a balcony over his pool…. It involved only myself, my sister, two or three little kids, and my cousin.”

That sister had even came out very publicly in her brother’s defense, “confirming” that her brother had saved her son from drowning.

Reports began to surface, however, that a police report named a “Josh Shaw” in connection to a possible break-in at an apartment just a few miles from USC’s campus at some point between 10 and 11 local time the night of Aug. 23.  That’s around the same time that the USC cornerback with the same name was reportedly in the process of getting hurt while saving a relative.

Shaw, who acknowledged that he likely wouldn’t have fabricated the story if he had known he’d only suffered sprains instead of broken bones, seemed particularly down about flat-out lying to his head coach.

Things got deeper Tuesday morning [Aug. 26], just before Shaw was going to be wheeled out to meet the media at practice. USC officials had started hearing stories from police and other sources about an incident Saturday at the apartment building. Before taking the field, Shaw was asked directly by Coach Steve Sarkisian whether the story was true. He told him yes.

“Sark says, ‘I’m going to take your word for it,’” said Shaw, pursing his lips and looking down. “I regret it greatly… to lie to my head coach, who I greatly respect, that’s tough.”

That Tuesday night, Shaw told his parents the truth of what really happened.  The following morning, he did the same with USC officials.

“My biggest mistake wasn’t jumping from the balcony, it was in not calling my father after I did,” Shaw said. “I would not be sitting with you today if I done so. I tried to keep it from my father, and I will regret that to the day I die.”

Police continue to investigate the domestic incident that preceded the fabrication, although no charges are expected.  Shaw has been back practicing with the team for nearly two months, although he’s yet to play as the police probe continues.

It’s unknown whether Shaw will play in any of the Trojans’ final three regular season games or a bowl game.

Steve Sarkisian doesn’t know if or when Josh Shaw will return

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During the final week of August, USC cornerback Josh Shaw went from hero to zero. Now, Trojans head coach Steve Sarkisian doesn’t even know if the senior will play for the team this season.

An elaborate hoax was initially concocted Aug. 25 in which Shaw supposedly sprained both ankles after he jumped off a second-story window to save his drowning nephew. It was revealed two days later that Shaw was named in a police report which could have caused his injuries. The investigation involved a potential domestic disturbance between Shaw and his girlfriend. USC doubted Shaw’s story from the beginning and indefinitely suspended the cornerback after he admitted he lied.

Shaw’s eventual return won’t be determined by Sarkisian or the team. University administration will be involved in the process.

“There is not even a decision to be made on our end at this point,” Sarkisian told the Orange County Register‘s Michael Lev.

Lev also reported, “Shaw’s reinstatement would have to go through several administrative layers before getting to Sarkisian, according to a source familiar with the situation.”

Sarkisian isn’t ruling out Shaw’s return this season, though.

“When you have a senior DB, you’d love to have him out there, especially in our conference where there are so many people throwing the ball,” Sarkisian said. “We haven’t even gotten to the meat of it yet. We still have Washington State and Cal to come, and these guys are unbelievable with what they are doing throwing the ball. We would love for that to occur.”

USC still faces three of the nation’s Top 20 passing offenses in Washington State, Cal and Colorado. Washington State and Cal are particularly prodigious passing programs and are currently first and third in the nation, respectively.

The Trojans, meanwhile, are 54th against the pass.

Shaw may not be the leader his team thought he was, but he would be a welcome addition to a secondary that needs all the help it can get.