LOS ANGELES — Southern California coach Steve Sarkisian says he shares blame with the athletic department for publicizing cornerback Josh Shaw’s bogus story about injuring his ankles while saving his nephew from drowning.
Sarkisian also said Thursday that the suspended Shaw could “potentially” return to the Trojans at some point this season.
“Obviously there’s some other things that need to take place,” Sarkisian said Thursday after USC’s practice. “But in the meantime, he’s got to take care of his health and take care of himself, and when the time is right to bring him back, we will.”
The first-year coach said Shaw still hasn’t told the Trojans exactly how he sprained both of his ankles last weekend.
Shaw admitted his elaborate story of heroism was a lie Wednesday in a meeting with USC officials, but offered no alternative explanation. Shaw was accompanied by attorney Donald Etra, who said Shaw’s injury involved no criminal activity.
Sarkisian also expressed regret for USC’s decision to publicize Shaw’s tall tale, saying it “had as much to do with me as anybody else.”
“Moving forward, we’ll be a little bit more patient,” Sarkisian added. “I just felt like the last thing we needed was Josh Shaw rolling around in a wheelchair and everybody saying what happened. We tried to get in front of it, and it didn’t work out for us, but again, it’s disappointing, but we’ll always continue to support Josh in his efforts. He’s a Trojan. He made a mistake, which kids make, but we’ve got to be here for them and help them get better.”
USC kept with its usual policy of making no players available to reporters on Thursdays before games. Sarkisian said the 15th-ranked Trojans showed no signs of distraction while they went through a spirited practice for Saturday’s season opener against Fresno State.
Sarkisian didn’t seem concerned that Shaw hadn’t given him the true explanation for his injuries.
“He was unable to,” Sarkisian said. “(When) he actually admitted to us that he was lying, it was in the presence of his attorney, and so really that’s a better question for his attorney. He didn’t tell us, and we weren’t really privy to ask, quite honestly.”