Lots of second- or are they third-day thoughts about the Josh Shaw story.
But here's the first one. This has to end today. Someone has to step up and make this go away. Contrary to what Sark said after Tuesday's practice, that was not a great effort and not in keeping with what we've been used to this August. The team did look distracted, as we'd expect they would be. Josh Shaw has been a major leader and well-respected by these guys. And now there are all these questions. What would we expect them to do here? Of course this is a problem they didn't need to take away from their focus.
As to what exactly happened Saturday night, we find ourselves thinking maybe it's not an either/or deal. Maybe, since we don't have the exact timelines, a couple of things happened that conflated between the rescue of the nephew and the burglary report at the Orsini Apartments where Shaw is not a suspect but "named" somehow in what apparently was not a real burglary at his girlfriend's place.
And now we've seen the story jump from a feel-good national college football story Monday into the mainstream news where Fox is talking about it with Bret Baier Tuesday and MSNBC on Morning Joe today already. USA Today assigned four reporters to the story as did the LA Times.
So however USC and Sark get this under control today, they must. Sure we can second-guess them and say if there were doubts from the get-go, if parts of the story just didn't fall together, if the timing didn't all match up, you just can't put it out there as USC did. Or maybe as Shaw had no idea they would.
Now we've heard from a number of people who say that they still believe the "hero" part of the story and maybe there is indeed a second part of the story and it's embarrassing to people who don't need to be thrown out there in public for reasons we can only guess, but now that this is out there, it has to come to a conclusion.
And yes, we've heard that USC staffers were having problems with this story and that maybe Josh has indeed said to them now that, as much as he holds on to part of it, maybe it's not exactly as it came out at first.
"I think it's important to know your players," Sarkisian told us Tuesday. We couldn't agree more. "Josh Shaw has been a good leader for us. He's given me no reason not to believe what he has told us that occurred, but we do need to know. I think it's important to know in the direction we're headed."
Sark continued: “I only know what I know, and 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."
Then on the Pac-12 coaches conference call and the Trojans Live radio show, Sark basically said that's all he has to say about it right now: "I'm going to refrain from talking about the situation itself," he said. "I will say that Josh had never given us any indication not to believe his story. He's been a kid of very high character for us, a team leader, elected team captain. I had no reason not to believe him."
But now there are reasons and they must be cleared up -- today. This cannot be allowed to continue. It didn't have to happen like this, of course. It was an unforced error, a self-inflicted wound, if you will. USC can figure that out later. But this team deserves not to have this hanging over them. As Josh also deserves not to have it define his USC career.
Time for Sark to step up here and get this resolved. This is the challenge of the USC job. It's not just the Xs and O's. Or the practice schedule. It's about being big enough for situations like these that don't occur in other programs, in other towns.
The previous coach wasn't in his three-plus years. That's the challenge here for Sark. It's more than football now.