SEATTLE -- Washington coach Steve Sarkisian said Saturday his comments to ESPN's Shelley Smith about Reggie Bush giving back the Heisman Trophy came during a meeting that he believed was not for print.
Sarkisian told Smith on Friday that Bush "had a chance to apologize, look like the good guy. But in giving it back and not apologizing, he just looks like an idiot again."
The comment came during a pregame interview requested by ESPN with Sarkisian, whose team was playing host to Nebraska in a game featured on the network. Such meetings are on the record unless the coach asks to go off. Smith said that did not happen in this case.
Sarkisian tried to clarify his comments after Saturday's 56-21 loss to No. 8 Nebraska. He said whatever happened with Bush off the field was not the reason he won the Heisman or why the Trojans were the No. 1 team in the country that year.
"Whatever happened with Reggie Bush off the field with himself or his family was not the reason why we were the No. 1 team in America, and was not the reason why he won the Heisman Trophy," Sarkisian said. "We prepared better than anybody, we practiced better than anybody, and we played better than anybody more consistently for an extended period of time. That was my point to it. If he did something wrong, give the Heisman back. If he didn't do something wrong, keep it."
Sarkisian said he contacted Bush after the comments came out Friday. Sarkisian was on the USC offensive staff the year Bush won the Heisman.
Bush announced earlier this week he would forfeit the Heisman he won while starring at running back for Southern California. In June, after a four-year investigation, the NCAA ruled Bush was ineligible for the 2005 season for receiving improper benefits.
Players are required to be in good standing with the NCAA to be eligible for college football's highest honor.
"I really respect Reggie Bush. I loved having him as a player at USC," Sarkisian said.
Sarkisian also said it was a learning experience about on-the-record conversations.
"It was a conversation -- part of a conversation -- where there were quotes on both sides. It's unfortunate," Sarkisian said. "It's a great learning lesson for me about what things get said around media; they're live."
Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.