Steve Sarkisian didn’t think some of Stanford’s injuries were real.
He is not likely to feel the same about David Shaw’s response to that claim.
There was nothing fake about the Stanford coach’s 21/2-minute mini-rant to begin his portion of Tuesday’s Pac-12 Conference coaches’ teleconference, during which he called postgame remarks made by Sarkisian on Saturday “unprofessional” and took a shot at University of Washington defensive line coach Tosh Lupoi.
This feud began after Washington’s 31-28 loss at Stanford on Saturday, when Sarkisian, according to Sportspress Northwest, said during a postgame radio interview on UW flagship radio station KJR that he believed Cardinal defensive line coach Randy Hart — a former UW assistant — was instructing players “to sit down.”
Sarkisian added: “I guess that’s how we play here at Stanford, so we’ll have to prepare for that next time.”
The UW coach didn’t name any specific Cardinal players, but Ben Gardner and Shayne Skov — two of Stanford’s top defenders — left the game in the second half with apparent injuries before returning after short stints on the sideline.
Each player addressed the issue on his Twitter page with vehement denials. Shaw said Tuesday that Skov had an MRI scan on his knee, and that Gardner was dealing with arm issues and dehydration.
“I don’t care what Steve Sarkisian thinks that he saw,” Shaw said, though obviously he cares at least a little. “We’ve never done it. We didn’t do it against Oregon, so why in the world would we do it against Washington?”
“Not to mention,” Shaw continued, and here’s where it gets good, “I believe it’s unprofessional to call out an assistant coach by name on another team in the media. The only defensive line coach that I
know of that’s ever instructed players to fake injuries works at Washington, not at Stanford. That’s not calling anybody out. That’s just stating a fact.”
He isn’t wrong. That’s a reference to Lupoi, who, as an assistant at California in 2010, famously admitted to such instruction after a game against Oregon, and served a one-game suspension because of it.
Sarkisian wasn’t having any part of the debate, saying during his portion of the teleconference that he hadn’t been told exactly what Shaw had said but that “we saw what we saw. We’ll leave it at that. Two reasonable people can disagree on something and move forward.”
Both coaches were asked if they’d spoken to each other. Both replied: “No comment.”
Shaw said he has had discussions with the Pac-12 office about the matter. Sarkisian was asked the same but said only, “I’m done with it.”
Sarkisian was also asked if there was anything specific he saw from Stanford’s sideline that made him think the Cardinal were signaling for players to take a dive.
To that, Sarkisian said, “I’m done with the subject.”
It’s worth noting this isn’t the first time the Cardinal has been accused of faking injuries. In a game at Oregon when Jim Harbaugh was the Cardinal coach in 2010, Stanford linebacker Chase Thomas went to the ground grabbing his ankle just before the Ducks could snap the ball.
He was assessed by the training staff, limped off the field, then returned one play later amid loud boos from the Autzen Stadium crowd.
Hey, they saw what they saw. But Shaw was adamant that isn’t the Stanford way.
“How we play at Stanford is averaging 5.5 penalties per game, one of the least-penalized teams in the nation,” Shaw said, further responding to Sarkisian’s postgame comment, and perhaps taking a dig at UW’s standing as the most-penalized team in the nation. “How we play at Stanford has led to three BCS bowl games, a Pac-12, a Rose Bowl and Orange Bowl championship, and 100 percent graduation rate. This is one of the most respected programs in the country, and I’m not going to put that on the line just to beat Washington.”firstname.lastname@example.org blog.thenewstribune.com/uwsports @ChristianCaple