There were no more reasons to delay the return of Josh Shaw to the USC football team. And so as of late Tuesday, the senior captain and defensive back is back, reinstated after nearly three months and 10 games of suspension for what USC is calling "code of conduct violations."
"I'm so happy to be back and be able to play against UCLA," Josh texted a friend on learning the news. "I'm heading down to USC right now for a team meeting."
How much he'll be able to be part of the USC team this week, UCLA week, is the question after delays in coming to a final decision cost Josh the chance to participate in either of the two full-pads practices Monday and Tuesday.
The LAPD and the LA district attorney decided last week that there was no evidence to charge Josh with any sort of crime after the bizarre incident that escalated from an argument with his longtime girlfriend to the lie he made up to USC to explain how he'd sprained his ankles jumping off his apartment balcony when the police arrived to USC putting out the story of the heroic rescue of Josh's nephew from drowning and having it become the lead story nationally in college football that week before USC got the word that there were serious problems with Josh's story and that something else had happened.Said USC Athletic Director Pat Haden in a statement released by the University: "For several months, local authorities have been investigating the Aug. 23 incident involving Josh Shaw. 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. The role Josh will have in any remaining games is now in the hands of Coach Sarkisian."
Interestingly after weeks of saying "It hasn't reached my desk," Sark had a bit more to say after practice Tuesday morning. "I think it'd be great for Josh especially when it's your two rivals but we've played 10 games without him so we have a pretty good understanding of who we are." And again: "We've played 10 games without him," Sark said.
Now of course, USC fans realize that the Trojans have lost two games at the buzzer where a single defensive play in the secondary -- against Arizona State and Utah -- might well have won those games. And had that happened, USC would have already won the Pac-12 South and be in position to make a run at the College Football Playoffs.
And then there's this. The major rationale for USC blitzing less than any of the other 65 teams in the Power Five conferences is that the secondary is so young. With Josh back there the first 10 games this season, it would not have been nearly as young. And the Trojans could have been more the attacking defense defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox said they wanted to be.
So as much of a penalty as the 10-game suspension has been for Josh, it's also been a major penalty for USC.
According to sentiments expressed quietly by USC players, especially upperclassmen, this is a welcome outcome. Even ones disappointed with Josh's original conduct in the case have said they'd be glad to see him get the chance to return.
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