Josh Shaw scandal is all too familiar

first_imgHere’s what we know about the Josh Shaw situation: At some point between USC’s annual Salute to Troy dinner on Saturday and the Trojans’ Monday morning practice, the senior defensive back suffered two high ankle sprains. Shaw originally claimed that his injury was the result of rescuing his drowning nephew, a story that garnered him a considerable amount of praise.We also know that Shaw’s story is a complete fabrication. He admitted Wednesday that he made up the entire sequence of events and has since been suspended from the team indefinitely. Perhaps tellingly, Shaw even retained a high-profile defense attorney.A police report has surfaced from Saturday night that claims a man was seen jumping from a third-story balcony at an apartment near campus during an attempted break-in. Josh Shaw is named in the report as the boyfriend of an apartment resident, not as a suspect.That’s it. That’s all we know. We do not know how Shaw sustained his injuries, or why he lied to the world. We do not know if he committed or was involved in a crime.USC, the police, Steve Sarkisian and most of the country remain in what Sarkisian called a “holding pattern,” waiting for evidence on that front. But the big story is out there — Josh Shaw lied, and now it’s up to us to pick up the pieces.And as much as we all want to talk Trojan football, the media has embraced this “holding pattern” as well. So even though our epic rematch with Fresno State looms on Saturday, I still have to talk about Josh Shaw.Here’s the thing that bothers me — and forgive me for going out on a limb here — but something about this situation just doesn’t feel right. If Shaw injured himself in a manner that he would wish to hide from his coaches and university, or even, God forbid, in the course of a criminal act, why invent a story that puts you in the national spotlight? It just doesn’t make sense.It would hardly have been a blurb on ESPN’s radar if Shaw injured himself while going for a post-practice run, or helping a teammate move. Instead, he was named one of SportsCenter’s three stars of the night just hours before the questions about his injury began.Maybe what feels the worst about the Shaw story is how eerily familiar it seems.I still remember exactly where I was when the news of former Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o’s fictional girlfriend broke — and I’m not exactly a big Fighting Irish fan. Now it seems as if the two stories will be permanently linked in the long history of college football scandals.We all remember the tragedy surrounding Te’o as he marched his way through a debateably Heisman-esque 2012 season. In a span of six hours, his grandmother and “girlfriend” passed away, leading to unparalleled media coverage of the rest of Notre Dame’s season.Now even if you believe — which I, politely, don’t — that Te’o was indeed an unknowing victim of an internet hoax, it’s important to remember that he admitted to never meeting the woman. At least by the dawn of the 2012 season, it’s fair to say he knew something was up. And yet he, and those closest to him, fabricated a story that turned him into a short-lived national hero. Just two years later Josh Shaw has done the same thing.The question no one can figure out, though, is why. Why would Manti turn himself into a media sensation and not quietly end the hoax before the season? Why would Josh Shaw, if not tell the truth, at least not fabricate a cleaner story?These guys had to know that even with a little digging their stories would start to show holes. A quick Google search cast doubt on Lennay Kekua’s existence. Similarly, the timeline of Shaw’s incident never quite added up. If Shaw left USC between 9 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. as reported, conservative estimates put him in Palmdale by 10:30 p.m. at the earliest. It’s certainly not impossible to believe that a 7-year-old child who could not swim was in the pool at such a late hour by himself, but it’s somewhat unlikely.This was apparently a qualm shared by USC Athletic Department officials, one of whom anonymously told Rivals.com that the school had serious doubts regarding Shaw’s story, and advised him against sharing it with the media. Still, Shaw went ahead and spread his lie to anyone who would listen.And people did listen, especially the sports media. He had to have known they would. He had to have known someone might investigate his story further. And he had to have known that when even the smallest crack showed in his story that the media would jump all over it. Sure, it’s sad that the impact of social media speculation permanently soiled Shaw’s reputation before anyone actually knew the truth. But that blame still has to fall on Shaw, who failed to learn anything from the Te’o debacle.Maybe we’ll never know what inspired Josh Shaw to come up with such an outrageous lie. At this point it could be anything from simply a poorly-thought-out cover-up to a not-so-slick grab at fame. As much as I’d love to know what was going through the 22-year-old’s head, it really doesn’t matter. Josh Shaw screwed up — plain and simple. And all he needed to do to avoid it was look back at history. Will Hanley is a junior majoring in political science and communication. He is also the sports editor of the Daily Trojan. His column, “Sports Willustrated,” runs Thursdays.last_img

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