Not after this. Not after humiliating his coaches, his teammates and the program. Not after a blatant lie that grew worse when he, for some inexplicable reason, tried to make himself out a hero.
If there has ever been a more bizarre set of circumstances at USC, I can't remember it. This school has had its share of drama recently. From the Reggie Bush scandal, the ensuing NCAA sanctions, the Lane Kiffin experiment, to the bumbling coaching situation at the end of last season. This is the last thing beleaguered athletic director Pat Haden needed.
What Shaw has done is not only embarrass himself, but he has torpedoed everything Haden and coach Steve Sarkisian have been trying to do to change the culture at USC.
People were laughing and making fun of them on national television late Wednesday afternoon. "This kid said he saved his nephew from drowning, and he really did what?" Every Trojans fan watching had to grimace as the TV people carried on.
It doesn't matter how he really injured his ankles. Had he come forth immediately and told school officials what happened, he probably still would have been suspended. But it wouldn't have blown up into a national story.
Talk about your public relations nightmare.
There's also a matter of timing. Shaw's lie dropped on them like some kind of giant anvil -- providing the worst kind of late August distraction as the team prepared for the 2014 season opener against Fresno State on Saturday.
If you have to feel bad for anybody today, feel bad for the rest of the players on this USC team. They are as stunned as anyone by what Shaw did. This is a guy they named a captain just a few days ago. As much as they don't want this to affect their preparation for the season, it will.
That's why Haden and Sarkisian shouldn't delay their action. As soon as all the details of what occurred are known, they should do what they have to do.
They should tell Josh Shaw that he can no longer play football for USC.
Shaw said he suffered a pair of high ankle sprains Saturday night after jumping from the second story of an apartment complex to save his 7-year-old nephew, who was struggling in the pool. Shaw said his nephew did not know how to swim. He admitted to team officials on Wednesday that the story was a complete fabrication.
Head coach Steve Sarkisian said Tuesday the school received several calls questioning the authenticity of Shaw's story and had been investigating the matter.
"We are extremely disappointed in Josh," Sarkisian said in the statement. "He let us all down. As I have said, nothing in his background led us to doubt him when he told us of his injuries, nor did anything after our initial vetting of his story.
"I appreciate that Josh has now admitted that he lied and has apologized. Although this type of behavior is out of character for Josh, it is unacceptable. Honesty and integrity must be at the center of our program. I believe Josh will learn from this. I hope that he will not be defined by this incident, and that the Trojan Family will accept his apology and support him."
LOS ANGELES -- USC football coach Steve Sarkisian said the school's investigation into the authenticity of Josh Shaw's story about saving his nephew from potentially drowning is in a "holding pattern" and is now being handled by campus authorities.
"It's pretty clear that there's quite a few conflicting stories out there," Sarkisian said after practice on Wednesday. "Any information we have been provided up until this point we have pushed along to campus authorities. We're really going to let it play out in their hands up until this point and quite honestly we're in somewhat of a holding pattern. That's where we are at. Anything I do get that I can provide you guys with, I will, believe me, I will."
When Sarkisian was asked specifically what campus authorities were handling the investigation he said, "everything above me."
"In this day and age of college football and head coaches' responsibilities, I'd be foolish not to push everything up the ladder," Sarkisian said. "I think we learned that a couple 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.
"When things come back to me, then I can comment on them. Until then, I don't really have much to say on it."
Here's one take for each Power Five conference:
If Wisconsin can get past LSU this week, then the Badgers will be in the playoff.
I’ll quickly lay out why the Badgers will at minimum gain momentum if they win this week.
Up next: Western Illinois, Bowling Green, South Florida, Northwestern, Illinois, Maryland, Rutgers and Purdue. That takes you to the middle of November, when they close with Nebraska, Minnesota and Iowa.
So even with some front-seven question marks and a first-time starter at QB, Wisconsin is 100 percent a playoff threat. But the Badgers will likely have to go undefeated to make it, which means knocking out a wild-card LSU team this weekend.
In fact, there’s a shot this could be a playoff contention knockout game. Both teams are on the fringe, and this is a win that both could very well need to woo the committee.
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But don’t forget the talent the league has at running back, too. The run game, after all, is what opens up the passing lanes for the signal-callers.
The 1,000-yard mark has acted as a benchmark for backs for years, so, how many Pac-12 rushers (for fun, let's include QBs) will hit the mark in 2014?
Byron Marshall (1,038). Only one of those guys, Marshall, returns in 2014, and even he is listed in a three-way battle for the starting RB spot at Oregon with Thomas Tyner and Royce Freeman.
In 2012 and 2010 there were six 1,000-yard rushers, and in 2011 there were seven. So what exactly will 2014 bring us?
Oregon has its three-headed monster (in addition to quarterback Marcus Mariota, who rushed for 715 yards last season). Will one or two emerge and become 1,000-yard backs? Or will they split carries, gain major yardage together and not have a single guy hit that mark? Could go either way.
USC has Buck Allen and Justin Davis and Tre Madden. ASU has D.J. Foster. Utah has Bubba Poole. Could Stanford’s Barry Sanders follow in his dad’s footsteps? Or will it be Kelsey Young who steals the show at Stanford? UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley accounted for 748 rushing yards last season. Could he add a few more long runs and hit the mark? What about one of his backs, such as Jordon James or Paul Perkins?
Colorado is pretty deep, Washington has options, and Oregon State says its run game is much improved.
With all those guys, how many 1,000-yard rushers will we actually see? History says it can range greatly. But what say you?
Today we’re going to take a look at players/coaches/position groups with something to prove in 2014. These are in no particular order, but each is just as significant.
- Hot seat coaches: While Utah coach Kyle Whittingham's and Cal coach Sonny Dykes' seats aren’t exactly roasting, it’s not like they just took the ice bucket challenge, either. The Utes have missed the postseason for consecutive seasons, and the Bears have dropped 16 straight FBS teams (11 under Dykes’ watch). Unless either has a disastrous season, the Pac-12 blog sees them back in 2015. But results need to come sooner than later.
- Quarterbacks: The 10 returning starters have brought a crush of national attention to the Pac-12. Now it’s time for those guys to earn it. Some are calling this the most talented collection of quarterbacks in one league in the history of college football -- headlined by Heisman trophy candidates Marcus Mariota and Brett Hundley. The expectations have never been higher for Pac-12 signal-callers.[+] EnlargeAP Photo/Don RyanThe preseason hype has been in full force for Pac-12 QBs like Oregon's Marcus Mariota. It's now time to deliver.
- Stanford’s offensive line: Speaking of hype … a couple of years ago the Cardinal inked what some called the best offensive line recruiting class in the history of history. Now all five starters are from that class. Some already have significant experience. Others saw some work in Stanford’s “extra linemen” packages last season. This group has to live up to its billing for the Cardinal to do what they want to do on offense.
- Austin Hill: In 2012, he was a beast, catching 81 balls for 1,364 yards and 11 touchdowns. Then an ACL injury suffered in the spring of 2013 cost him all of last season. Now he headlines an extremely deep and talented wide-receiving corps for the Wildcats in a Rich Rodriguez system that favors pass-catchers. No doubt, Hill is looking to get that first catch, first hit and first touchdown out of the way. If redshirt freshman quarterback Anu Solomon can produce solid quarterback play, Hill could be in for another outstanding season.
- USC freshmen: Damien Mama and Toa Lobendahn are slated at right and left guard, respectively, for the season opener against Fresno State. Ajene Harris is listed as a starting wide receiver. Adoree’ Jackson and JuJu Smith are expected to contribute as receivers and on special teams. And with the loss of Josh Shaw, Jackson might see extended time at cornerback. Steve Sarkisian made a huge splash in his first preseason by landing a top-notch recruiting class. Now it’s time for these guys to go out and prove it.
- Mark Helfrich: Sometimes the burden of expectation can weigh heaviest of all. Helfirch got a taste of that last season when, despite going 11-2 and beating Texas in the Alamo Bowl, there were some who considered Oregon’s 2013 campaign an unsuccessful one. He lost to Stanford (Chip Kelly also did, twice, by the way), lost to Arizona and some off-field incidents (Colt Lyerla, Rose Bowl comments, snowball fight) became bigger talking points than what was happening on the field. On the field, in case you forgot, was a Heisman-favorite quarterback playing the second half of the season with a partially torn knee ligament. A Pac-12 championship would go a long way toward silencing his doubters.
- D.J. Foster: Working in tandem with Marion Grice last season, Foster rushed for 501 yards and six touchdowns to go with his 653 receiving yards and four touchdowns. He’s a versatile back that Mike Norvell loves to split out and use in the passing game. But with Grice gone, Foster now takes over as the primary back. They’ll still use him in the passing attack. He’s too talented for them not to. But he’ll get a lot more work as a runner beyond the 93 carries he had last fall.
- Myles Jack: The Pac-12 blog has a special column on Jack coming out later this week so we won’t spoil anything. All we’ll say for now is he’s getting a ton of national love. From All-America lists to Heisman chatter, Jack is the national darling of preseason college football. Thing is, he might just be worth all of the hype. His encore season will be telling.
- The new guys: That the Huskies are a preseason Top 25 team speaks to how highly the national media thinks of Chris Petersen -- especially after they lost their quarterback, running back and tight end. He has his work cut out for him in a brutal Pac-12 North. But the expectations aren’t as extreme as they are for the guy he replaced. Sarkisian and the Trojans are expected to compete for a South Division title, a conference crown and a spot in the College Football Playoff. Beating UCLA would be a good start.
- Cal’s defense: The Bears had a rough go of it last season. No doubt. As the injuries piled up, and younger players were forced into action. The end result was, well, Cal in 2013. With a new defensive coordinator in Art Kaufman and finally a little health, guys like Brennan Scarlett, Mustafa Jalil and Stefan McClure take center stage in what the Bears hope will be a defensive revival.
LOS ANGELES -- USC football coach Steve Sarkisian said the school has received several calls questioning the authenticity of Josh Shaw's story about saving his nephew from potentially drowning and is investigating the matter.
Shaw said he suffered a pair of high ankle sprains Saturday night after jumping from the second story of an apartment complex to save his 7-year-old nephew, who was struggling in the pool. Shaw said his nephew did not know how to swim.
"Josh Shaw, first and foremost, is a good person and a good kid," Sarkisian said after Tuesday's practice. "He came to us with what had occurred Saturday night, and I have no reason and no history to not believe Josh and his story and what has occurred. Within the last few hours or so, we've gotten a few phone calls contradicting what Josh said occurred Saturday night, so we're going to continue to vet. We're looking at it. Beyond that, I only know what I know. Josh is adamant with what occurred, and we'll continue to vet some of the other stories that have come across our desk and our phones and see where we can go from there."
Headlined by 2013 ESPN.com All-American defensive end Leonard Williams, the Trojans defensive line is the backbone of an extremely formidable USC front seven. The 6-foot-4, 300-pound Williams missed some time early in camp with a shoulder strain, but he's returned to action and looks poised to have another monster season. At nose tackle, Antwaun Woods -- who started six games in 2013 -- also missed some time in camp due to a hyperextended elbow, but he too has returned and is showing no ill-effects from his injury. At the starting interior defensive tackle position a pair of transfers in Delvon Simmons and Claude Pelon share the top spot on the depth chart. Both are big, strong athletes, and Simmons brings the added bonus of possessing the ability to slide over to nose tackle. Greg Townsend Jr. had a promising camp and seems to be over his injury woes, so he'll likely factor into the rotation at defensive end. Cody Temple was sidelined for a majority of camp after suffering a concussion, but he's getting back in the swing of things now and is listed as the No. 2 nose tackle. Freshmen Malik Dorton and Don Hill, as well as fifth-year senior walk-on Teddy Baker, will also provide depth on the interior.
Over at rush end, J.R. Tavai and Scott Felix have battled it out since the spring, and both players have shined throughout the competition. In fact, as camp progressed Wilcox increasingly lined Felix up at SAM linebacker -- where he's now listed as the starter -- in an effort to get both defensive playmakers on the field at the same time. Charles Burks is another option at rush end.
Fifth-year senior MIKE linebacker Hayes Pullard led the Trojans in tackles in two of the past three seasons, and having been chosen as a captain in back-to-back years now, he also serves an important role as a team leader. Lining up next to Pullard at WILL linebacker will be Anthony Sarao, who has continued to assert himself as a valuable piece of the defense after starting the final seven games of the 2013 campaign. Sophomore Michael Hutchings is the primary backup at MIKE, and freshman Olajuwon Tucker made a major move during fall camp, to where he's now established himself as the No. 2 WILL linebacker. Still needing to add a little bulk to his 6-3, 230-pound frame, he's shown a knack for being around the ball. Senior Lamar Dawson, who has started 20 games in his career, figured to be a factor at WILL linebacker, but he still hasn't quite recovered from the knee injury that he suffered last season, and Sarkisian recently said that he expects him to be out another month or longer.
Similar to the situation at wide receiver on offense, the Trojans found themselves with a seeming overabundance of talent in the secondary throughout fall camp -- particularly at cornerback -- after suffering from a lack of depth there last fall. But with the recent news that fifth-year senior cornerback Josh Shaw will be sidelined indefinitely after suffering two high ankle sprains while rescuing his nephew in a pool this past Saturday, this is a unit that all of a sudden will have to move forward, for at least awhile, without its most seasoned, and reliable performer at cornerback.
In the absence of Shaw, Chris Hawkins is the likely favorite to take his place atop the depth chart, with Kevon Seymour, who started 11 games for the Trojans in 2013, on the other side. It's a challenge that Hawkins appears more than up for. The redshirt freshman actually lined up with the No. 1 unit for a majority of the spring, as Seymour was sidelined early on due to illness.
Sarkisian and his staff also made a concerted effort to shore up the cornerback spot in the last recruiting cycle, and that will obviously aid the situation here. One of those freshmen, Adoree' Jackson, looks ready to make an immediate impact, and he'll almost certainly push for major minutes as well. One of the Trojans' most highly-touted signees, he's lived up to every bit of the hype so far, starring at both cornerback and wide receiver in practice. An explosive athlete, he figures to see more time on the defensive side of the ball early, especially now. Jonathan Lockett and Lamont Simmons are two more freshmen who have shown well, and it's not out of the question to assume that one or both will now be relied upon to contribute. Ryan Dillard and Devian Shelton are two veteran reserve players, although both are currently sidelined with injuries.
At safety Leon McQuay III and Gerald Bowman performed at a high level during fall camp, and both are listed as sharing the top spot at free safety, although Bowman spent quite a bit of time running with the No. 1 unit at strong safety. Su'a Cravens, a 2013 freshman All-American, battled illness and a groin injury during a portion of fall camp, but he looks to be healthy enough to have gained his starting job back at strong safety. He'll also see plenty of time at the Dollar spot -- a linebacker/safety hybrid position that plays to his strengths as a bigger, more physical defensive back with outstanding football instincts.
Freshman John Plattenburg will help add depth, and walk-on Matt Lopes is another name to watch out for. D.J. Morgan, a converted tailback who has been hampered by knee and leg injuries throughout his career, was held out for a majority of fall camp.
7:30 PM ET Idaho State Utah 10:00 PM ET Rutgers Washington State 10:30 PM ET Weber State 19 Arizona State
9:00 PM ET Colorado State Colorado 10:30 PM ET UNLV Arizona
12:00 PM ET 7 UCLA Virginia 3:30 PM ET California Northwestern 4:00 PM ET Portland State Oregon State 4:00 PM ET UC Davis 11 Stanford 7:30 PM ET Fresno State 15 USC 10:30 PM ET 25 Washington Hawaii 10:30 PM ET South Dakota 3 Oregon