In the media frenzy surrounding redshirt senior cornerback Josh Shaw, what no one is talking about is how new USC head coach Steve Sarkisian handled his first public controversy.
Any college football fan can tell you that USC has been a gold mine for media ever since that one football player (he whose name shall not be spoken) and his family accepted money amongst other material items while still at USC.
After sustaining two high-ankle sprains, Shaw told the USC athletic department that he had been injured jumping off of a second-story balcony to save his drowning nephew on Saturday night. But we have come to find out Shaw was more likely jumping from the third floor of the Orsini apartments in downtown Los Angeles the same evening.
Shaw finally admitted Wednesday that his original story was "completely fabricated." He was also listed as a match for a description in an Los Angeles Police Department report for a break-in at the Orsini apartments. However, Shaw was not listed as a suspect to the break-in that occurred in the building, but as the boyfriend of one of the female residents interviewed by police.
Police showed up after a resident's screaming was reported from a neighboring apartment. After police arrived, a man that was described to look very, very similar to how Josh Shaw would be described, leapt from a third-floor balcony. It is still unknown exactly what the Shaw-look-alike/Shaw was actually doing on the outside of the building to begin with.
Throughout it all, one report has actually remained the same -- Steve Sarkisian’s stance. The Trojans' new head coach was poised, unbiased and earnest in addressing the media as each day brought forth new details.
"He’s a good kid," said Sarkisian after Monday’s practice. "I have no reason, no history to not believe Josh and his story. We’re going to continue to vet it and we’re looking at it."
This was after Shaw's original heroic tale had been shared and distributed to the public by the USC athletic department and Sarkisian explained there were calls made to discredit Shaw’s story.
"Josh is adamant with what occurred and we’ll continue to vet some of the other stories that have come across our desk and across our phones," Sarkisian said.
Once it was reported that Josh Shaw’s story did not align with various other reports from Saturday night, Sarkisian did not once pick sides.
"We have to be strong enough to handle adversity whether it’s on the football field or off the field and continue to hang together and be together and go out and play great football," Steve Sarkisian told media.
The fifth-year senior had been elected by player vote to be one of six team captains to lead the Trojans this season. After even more reports began to surface confirming there was more evidence that proved Shaw’s story to be untrue, Sarkisian showcased the "less is more tactic."
Traditionally, green head coaches will make the classic mistake of giving too much ammunition to the media. His demeanor when asked the tough questions by members of the unforgiving media was strong and careful.
After the media nightmare the Trojans endured under former head coach Lane Kiffin, it is a relief to see the USC football team has a true leader who is both empathetic and fair.
In the first round of media vs. Sarkisian, I say he takes this one. As the primary football team in the second largest US market, USC begets media attention and it wouldn't be USC football without a little controversy, but this new era is marked by someone fit to handle the job...at least off the field.
Whether or not Sarkisian’s new uptempo offense holds up on the field Saturday evening when USC takes the field for the first time this season might be another story, but Sarkisian has shown he can lead the Trojans the other six days of the week.