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.
Colorado lost for the first time late Saturday on the road at USC. The result was not entirely puzzling given Colorado may have been due for a loss and USC can be difficult to top in Los Angeles, but a decision to go for a two-point conversion after a late Colorado touchdown cut into the USC lead left many watching scratching their heads. After the game, Colorado head coach Mike MacIntyre explained the rationale behind the two-point conversion attempt, and it was rather simple.
MacIntyre didn’t know Colorado scored a touchdown and thought it was a first-and-goal situation.
The two-point conversion attempt came following a Steven Montez 19-yard touchdown run with 3:23 to play. The touchdown cut the USC lead to 31-20. A successful two-point conversion would have made it a nine-point game whereas an extra point would have created a 10-point deficit for Colorado. You could argue Colorado still needed two scores in the final minutes anyway and a two-point try would allow for the possibility of a win. The conventional logic, however, suggests there is a better win probability if you only need a touchdown and a field goal. Not that Colorado had a great chance either way to come back and win (which of course, they did not), but the decision to go for two points was a bizarre one. And now we know why.
So, was MacIntyre given incorrect information on the field? Shouldn’t somebody on Colorado have known the team just scored a touchdown, be it an official, a staffer, or one of the players on the field? Who is to blame for this messy situation? The fault should fall on the shoulders of the head coach here. It may not have ultimately altered the outcome of the game, since Colorado did recover the onside kick after all fo this but failed to pick up a first down.
Miami head coach Mark Richt is going to be busy on Miami’s bye week taking a good hard look at his football program. After following up a wild come-from-behind victory against rival Florida State, Miami went on the road and took a difficult loss at Virginia. Just like that, Miami followed up an opportunity to take steps forward as a program by taking a step back. In his third season at Miami, Richt does not want to waste much time attempting to steer things back in the right direction.
“But maybe that’s exactly what we need, to assess everything top to bottom,” Richt said after Miami’s 16-13 loss at Virginia, according to The Miami Herald. “If there is a time in the season to make certain changes you can do them, whether it’s just scheme or maybe personnel or whatever it may be.
“Certainly there will be a couple sleepless night for me, I know.’’
Miami has a number of issues they are trying to overcome. Recent history against teams from power conference programs and simply playing on the road. The frustrations came to the table at the end of the 2017 season when Miami finished the regular season by being upset on the road at Pittsburgh and was followed by a loss in the ACC Championship Game against Clemson. Miami’s 2017 season ended in their home stadium for the Orange Bowl, but with a loss to Big Ten championship runner-up Wisconsin.
This season looked to get started on the right foot for Miami but the Hurricanes fell in Arlington, Texas against LSU. Now, with the most recent road loss to Virginia and ahead of a road trip to Boston College after the bye week, Richt has no area of the program that cannot benefit from a bit of self-assessment and reflection. Miami still has a good shot to return to the ACC championship game but that won’t happen if Richt and the Hurricanes don’t fix a few problems in the coming weeks.
The first head coaching change of the 2018 season has been made. Bowling Green announced on Sunday it has removed Mike Jinks from the position of head coach of the Falcons. Defensive coordinator Carl Pelini will take on the role of interim head coach for Bowling Green for the remainder of the season.
“I want to thank Coach Jinks for all of his efforts with our football program and in the BG community,” Bowling Green Director of Athletics Bob Moosbrugger said in a released statement. “However, we felt it was time to make a change in leadership. These are not easy decisions and we do not take this lightly. This affects 11 coaching families, 112 student-athletes and numerous support staff. We wish Mike and his family the best in their future endeavors.”
Jinks took on the role of head coach of Bowling Green after the 2015 season after serving as an assistant running back coach at Texas Tech from 2013 through 2015. Jinks replaced Dino Babers, who was hired away by Syracuse, and the hope was he would be able to continue the offensive momentum Babers had established following Dave Clawson. That just never materialized.
The last two and a half years have been tough for the program. Bowling Green went 4-8 in the first season under Jinks and followed that last season by going 2-10. Bowling Green dropped to 1-6 after a 42-35 loss at home against Western Michigan on Saturday. The only win of the 2018 season came against Eastern Kentucky, a 42-35 victory in Week 3.
Bowling Green will be on the road this week to play Ohio as Pelini steps into the head coaching role for the first time since being the head coach of Florida Atlantic in 2012 and 2013.
A day after Minnesota lost a road game at Ohio State, head coach P.J. Fleck has an off-field situation to be concerned about. Running back Shannon Brooks was arrested early Sunday for suspected domestic assault stemming from an alleged fight with a roommate.
According to a Hennepin County jail records website, Brooks was charged by Minneapolis Police Department on probable cause for domestic assault. A report from the Pioneer Press says the other man involved in the incident was not a member of the football team. No court appearance has been set at this time.
Brooks is not playing this season due to an injury suffered during the spring. The non-contact injury to his leg occurred in early March at the end of Minnesota’s conditioning drills just before the formal start of spring football practices. He was using his redshirt year this season to preserve the opportunity to return in 2019 on his fifth year of eligibility.
Brooks played in six games for the Gophers in 2017, in which he rushed for 369 yards and five touchdowns.