Cardinal coach David Shaw hasn't had many kind words for Washington coach Steve Sarkisian. (Getty Images)
David Shaw was introduced on the weekly Pac-12 teleconference Tuesday, and moderator Dave Hirsch was set to open the phone lines for questions. That's when Shaw interrupted and asked if he could make an opening statement.
Boy, did he.
The Stanford coach ripped into Washington coach Steve Sarkisian for alleging the Cardinal faked injuries to slow down the Huskies' no-huddle offense in a 31-28 Stanford victory Saturday in Palo Alto.
"We don't fake injuries," Shaw said. "We never have and we never will. … I don't care what Steve Sarkisian thinks he saw."
Shaw called the public allegations "unprofessional" and "disrespectful," and was specifically angry that Sarkisian pointed the finger at Stanford defensive line coach Randy Hart.
Sarkisian told Washington flagship radio station KJR after the game: "Their defensive-line coach [ex-UW assistant Randy Hart] was telling them to sit down. I guess that's how we play here at Stanford, so we'll have to prepare for that next time. At some point, we'll get repaid for it. That never serves a purpose for us, and we'll never do that."
Shaw fired back Tuesday: "The only assistant coach I know of in the Pac-12 that has had players fake injuries is at Washington, not Stanford." That's in reference to Huskies assistant Tosh Lupoi, who was at Cal when the Golden Bears infamously feigned injury to slow down Oregon in 2010. Lupoi admitted to the ploy shortly after the game.
Shaw said he has spoken to the Pac-12 office about the issue. When asked if he has spoken with Sarkisian personally, he responded, "No comment."
When asked about what Shaw said, Sarkisian responded: "I'll repeat what I said yesterday: We saw what we saw. We'll leave it at that. Two reasonable people can disagree on things, and we'll move forward to play the No. 2 team in the country."
As more and more teams play up-tempo offense, more and more defenses are looking for any means necessary to slow them down. Faking injuries has been part of the response to the no-huddle. Fans and opponents have been quick to accuse teams of that practice whether it's true or not.
Shaw clearly believes his team was unfairly accused.
The third-year head coach said he has been given "strict guidelines" by the Stanford administration about running his program with integrity.
"To have that questioned because of something someone thought they saw is just wrong," he said. "I'm going to defend my players."
Two players who specifically were accused of faking injuries were fifth-year senior defensive stars Shayne Skov and Ben Gardner. Gardner tweeted earlier this week: "Skov didn't take a dive, I didn't take a dive. Never have never will. Stay classy Washington."
Shaw said Skov was having an MRI on his knee today as a precaution to make sure he is OK for the Cardinal's game Saturday against Utah.
"Those are two of our best players and I don't want them off the field under any circumstances, even for one play," Shaw said.
Shaw added that the allegations were especially ill-informed because his team takes pride in holding up against hurry-up offenses, specifically Oregon's. He cited his recruiting strategy to build defensive depth as a specific reaction to handling no-huddle attacks.
"In the past, the teams that did that, we have laughed at," Shaw said. "Because in our opinion you haven't trained hard enough. … We played 20 players [on defense against Washington]. There's no way we're going to fake injuries. We've built our team to [not] do that."
Shaw also was bothered by the rehash in Washington of a controversial overturned catch by wide receiver Kevin Smith. The play was ruled a catch on the field and an incompletion on review, ending the Huskies' last-chance drive to tie or win.
On Monday, Sarkisian said: "If they had ruled it incomplete, I would have accepted that it was ruled incomplete. But it was ruled a catch, so we went with the call. We had the explanation from the Pac-12: using the same video we saw from the JumboTron (at Stanford Stadium), the back angle that the ESPN shot was, it was conclusive that it was not a catch. I disagree, but that's not my opinion. I don't think that was conclusive, but I'm not an official. I'm a football coach, so my opinion varies in importance when it comes to those things."
On the teleconference, Shaw sounded perturbed the catch was still being rehashed in Seattle this week.
"Everyone up there in Washington is talking about it," he said. "…I saw it from the front and it looked like he caught it. From the back [replay] you can see after it hits the receiver's chest, it hits the ground. That's an incomplete pass."
Next year's meeting between the two teams in Seattle just got circled in red.
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