Two days after Deadspin reported that Lennay Kekua, the girlfriend of Notre Dame All-American Manti Te’o who supposedly passed away last September, was a hoax, Te’o broke his silence to ESPN in a two and a half hour off-camera interview.
As one would imagine, Te’o denied playing any sort of role in the hoax. Here are highlights of what ESPN’s Jeremy Schaap has reported so far:
- Te’o says he never had any part in the hoax and never made anything up to help his Heisman candidacy.
- Te’o did, however, say he lied to his father about having met Kekua. Te’o confessed that he “kind of catered [his] stories” about Kekua to suggest that they had met.
- Te’o claimed “Two guys and a girl are responsible for the whole thing.” When asked who they were, Te’o replied “I don’t know. According to Ronaiah, Ronaiah’s one.”
- Te’o says he was never asked for money, but Kekua once requested his checking account number to send him money. Te’o did not give her the number.
- Apparently confirming a CBSSports report released earlier Friday evening, Te’o said he tried to speak with Kekua via Skype and Facetime on several occasions, but that he only saw a “black box” on the other end.
- Te’o said that he began contact with Kekua on Facebook his freshman year. Things “got serious” on April 28, the day he was told she’d been in a car crash. The relationship is described by Te’o as being intermittent.
- When asked why he never visited Kekua in the hospital, Te’o replied “It never really crossed my mind. I don’t know. I was in school.”
- Te’o claims he and Kekua got in an argument when she called him after his grandmother passed away. “She was saying, ‘You know, I’m trying to be here for you.’ I didn’t want to be bothered. I wanted to be left alone. I just wanted to be by myself. Last thing she told me was ‘Just know I love you.’ “
- Te’o told ESPN that, until two days ago, he was not fully convinced Kekua didn’t exist. That’s when Te’o said he received an apology from Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, the man believed to be behind the hoax and Kekua’s cousin, according to Te’o. (A note: Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick said in Wednesday’s press conference that Te’o was the victim of a hoax and that the university handed the information over to a PI firm that returned a report on Jan. 4.)
- According to Te’o, a group of people related to Tuiasosopo showed up at Notre Dame’s team hotel for the BCS National championship game.
- The first time Te’o said he met Tuiasosopo was after Notre Dame beat USC on Nov. 24. Deadspin reported that Te’o and Tuiasosopo “definitely knew each other” but how was unclear.
There is also an interesting read from the USA Today which was published late Friday night. The paper reports that the cousin of Tuiasosopo faced many parallels in her life similar to Kekua, including a battle with leukemia.
Earlier today, “Outside the Lines” spoke with three people who believed Tuiasosopo was in fact orchestrating a hoax on Te’o, with one person claiming he confessed to the act to her in December. Later in the afternoon, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported that Kekua (or, a voice speaking as Kekua) told Te’o via telephone on Dec. 6 during the college football awards show that she had faked her death to hide from drug dealers.
A 35-point win on the road in a de facto conference championship game was enough to push Oklahoma past Iowa for the third spot in the latest Associated Press top 25.
Clemson and Alabama retained the top two spots, while a trio of Big Ten teams in Iowa, Michigan State and Ohio State occupied numbers four, five and six. Stanford moved to No. 7 after its last second win over Notre Dame, who tumbled from fourth to ninth. Ohio State jumped from No. 8 to No. 6, while Michigan tumbled to No. 19 after a 42-13 Buckeyes win in Ann Arbor.
Florida State moved into the top 10 after a 27-2 blowout of Florida (who fell from 10th to 18th), while TCU past Baylor after its double overtime slop-fest win on Friday night.
Utah, USC, LSU and Wisconsin moved into the poll, while Washington State, Mississippi State, Toledo and UCLA fell out.
The full rankings:
1. Clemson – 1,511 total points (53 first-place votes)
2. Alabama – 1,469 (8)
3. Oklahoma – 1,367
4. Iowa – 1,345
5. Michigan State – 1,318
6. Ohio State – 1,197
7. Stanford – 1,137
8. North Carolina – 1,085
9. Notre Dame – 1,022
10. Florida State – 951
11. TCU – 927
12. Baylor – 842
13. Northwestern – 711
14. Oklahoma State – 699
15. Oregon – 616
16. Ole Miss – 584
17. Houston – 571
18. Florida – 566
19. Michigan – 518
20. Temple – 269
21. Utah – 244
22. Navy – 206
23. LSU – 199
24. USC – 189
25. Wisconsin – 124
Hey, how about some actual on the field football news?
The latest Amway USA Today Coaches’ Poll was released Sunday afternoon, with the top three remaining entirely unchanged. Oklahoma moved up from fifth to fourth, while Ohio State is now just one spot behind Michigan State at sixth.
Michigan was this week’s biggest loser, falling from 12th to 19th, while USC leapt from 32nd to 24th thanks to a big win over UCLA.
The full poll:
1. Clemson – 1,558 points (52 first-place votes)
2. Alabama – 1,508 (8)
3. Iowa – 1,412 (1)
4. Oklahoma – 1,408
5. Michigan State – 1,350
6. Ohio State – 1,252
7. Stanford – 1,155
8. North Carolina – 1,107
9. Florida State – 1,054
10. Notre Dame – 994
11. TCU – 931
12. Baylor – 836
13. Northwestern – 768
14. Oklahoma State – 688
15. Florida – 655
16. Oregon – 634
17. Ole Miss – 595
18. Houston – 526
19. Michigan – 515
20. Utah – 287
21. Temple – 276
22. Navy – 223
23. LSU – 207
24. USC – 164
25. Wisconsin – 148
Rutgers is reportedly heading into a Black Sunday fire sale, ousting AD Julie Hermann and head coach Kyle Flood on the same day.
The Ausbury Park Press reported early Sunday afternoon Hermann was fired at RU president Robert Barchi‘s house in a meeting that lasted all of 11 minutes. The first female athletics director in Big Ten history, controversy followed Hermann from her first day on campus, whether it was questions of possible mistreatment during her stint at Tennessee’s volleyball coach, to saying “it would be great” if Rutgers’ local paper went under, to making inappropriate statements about Jerry Sandusky to angering former Scarlet Knights player Eric LeGrand.
Shortly after the Hermann news broke, reports emerged stating Flood will follow Hermann out the door.
Flood began his tenure as Rutgers’ coach with a 9-1 start in 2012, but won just 18 of 41 games after that, including four of 16 games since joining the Big Ten.
In addition to stumbling on the field, Flood was suspended three games this season for academic violations and had multiple players suspended for crimes ranging from home invasion to assault.
Six unsuccessful seasons came for Mike London at Virginia came to an end Sunday, as the program announced its head coach had resigned.
From the school’s press release:
(AD Craig) Littlepage met with London this morning to discuss the future of the Virginia football program. At that time, Littlepage and London decided a change in leadership was in the best interests of the program. Littlepage has not specified a time frame for concluding the search, citing the fact that many of the possible candidates will be involved in postseason play. Littlepage will not make further comments until the search has concluded.
Hired away from Richmond after taking the Spiders to the 2008 FCS national championship, London went just 27-46 in his six years in Charlottesville. He appeared in only one bowl game — the 2011 Chick-fil-A Bowl, a 43-24 loss to Auburn — and won four of fewer games in four of his six campaigns.
Virginia considered ousting London after the 2014 season, but the Hoos thought a 5-7 campaign showed enough progress to retain him for 2015. That faith went unrewarded as Virginia went just 4-8 this fall, concluding with a 23-20 loss to Virginia Tech.
“I appreciate the opportunity to have been the head football coach at the University of Virginia and for the relationships that have been formed during my time in Charlottesville that will last for years to come,” London said in a statement. “I took this job to make a profound difference in the lives of young men and to re-establish Virginia football as one of the best programs in the ACC. While we were successful in the development of our players in many areas, I would have liked to have won more games for the student-athletes, coaches, fans and everyone that’s a part of the University of Virginia.”