Report: Tuiasosopo’s female cousin was voice behind Te’o hoax

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Another day, another layer to the Manti Te’o hoax story. It seems it won’t be too much longer before we start running out of layers — barring a dramatic and breaking development, that is.

Yesterday, the lawyer representing Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, the man believed to be behind the Lennay Kekua hoax, claimed his client was the voice on the other end of the line during phone calls between “Kekua” and Te’o. On the same day, and in an interview with Katie Couric, Te’o shared multiple voicemails said to be from Kekua. All of them contained what sounded like a girl’s voice on the other end. If Te’o was truly duped to the extent he claims, it would have been understandable to not think twice about the sex of the person on the other end.

Conversely, it would be nothing short of astonishing if in fact Tuiasosopo was the voice — unless some type of alteration device was used — if for no other reasons than the consistency and length of time needed to make the hoax believable. That by itself is worthy of cynicism.

“If he somehow made that voice, that’s incredible, that’s an incredible talent to do that. Especially every single day,” Te’o told Curic.

But, here we are a day later, and it turns out Ronaiah Tuiasosopo may not have been the one speaking to Te’o after all. According to the New York Post, it was Tuiasosopo’s female cousinTino Tuiasosopo, speaking to Te’o over the phone. One of Tino’s cousins told the paper “There is no doubt whatsoever that it’s Tino” after listening to the voicemails.

ABC News also took the voicemails to audio experts, who said it’s “impossible” for the voice on those messages to be coming from a man. The Post adds that Tino Tuiasosopo works for her dad’s construction company, a detail Te’o mentioned when describing Kekua. Te’o also claimed previously in an interview with ESPN’s Jeremy Schapp that “Two guys and a girl are responsible for the whole thing.

What incentive Tino Tuiasosopo would have for being the voice of Kekua is unknown. Ronaiah Tuiasosopo’s attorney, Milton Grimes, did not reply to requests to comment by the Post.

So what does all this mean? Even though we’re over a week into this story, we’re not much closer to knowing what’s really going on. And we probably never will.

If Ronaiah Tuiasosopo was “determined to take the rap” as one of his relatives told the Post, who’s to say he’s not doing so for Te’o? Multiple accounts have stated Ronoaiah Tuiasosopo not only confessed to duping Te’o, but apologized — sometimes while crying. And none of this explains why Te’o informed Notre Dame of the hoax three weeks after he received a call from the suddenly alive “Kekua” — she reportedly passed away from leukemia last September — but later noted he didn’t fully believe it was a hoax until the Deadspin story broke.

Instead of becoming clearer with time, every twist and turn has made this story stranger, so it’s hard to know what to discredit and what to believe no matter how bizarre.

Te’o spoke publicly about the situation to Couric without shedding much additional light. That will likely be the last time he does so until he interviews with NFL clubs at the upcoming combine. The Tuiasosopo’s, meanwhile can’t even get their own story straight.

Don’t expect any of this to clear up soon.

Arkansas moving back to natural grass field at Reynolds Razorback Stadium in 2019

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It’s a new era at Arkansas with Chad Morris and a new athletic director in charge and not even the turf will be spared from seeing changes.

Per the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, the school will be moving to a natural grass field at Reynolds Razorback Stadium instead of replacing their current artificial turf again as it nears the end of its lifespan.

“Let me say my preference is I love natural grass,” Morris told the paper a few months ago. “That’s just me. Maybe that’s just the high school coach in me.

“Worrying about what the next surface out here looks like is irrelevant to me. I just want to get through a practice and get better today. But I prefer, I’m a natural grass type of guy. I love being on a grass field. There’s nothing better than that in college football, or football period.”

Athletic Director Hunter Yurachek confirmed this weekend that the change was being made in Fayetteville after the 2018 season concludes. The current turf was put in back in the Bobby Petrino era in 2009 and will need to be replaced after a decade or so of heavy use.

This will not be the end of Razorbacks playing on turf however, as they will not only see the stuff for games at neutral sites and at other SEC opponents but also when they make their annual trek to War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock — which had turf installed a dozen years ago.

West Virginia President on old Big 12 expansion craze: “It was a little bit messy”

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E. Gordon Gee is one of college athletics’ most recognizable figures, which isn’t exactly what you typically say about school leaders like him. The West Virginia President known for his trademark bow tie (and who has never shied away from an interview or a quip he didn’t like) is on the cusp of his first set of spring meetings in the conference as the new chairman of the Big 12 board of directors.

Speaking to the Dallas Morning News about a range of issues around the league prior to meeting in Dallas, Gee seems to have come around on conference expansion from a few years ago and thinks it not only could have been handled better, but it probably shouldn’t be done in the first place because being the smallest Power Five league has its advantages too.

“I’m not certain it was the best way to do it,” Gee told the paper. “It was a little bit messy — and I was part of the mess.

“Intimacy gives us an opportunity to do something that a lot of other places can’t do… We’ll play to our strengths. We’re small, but we can be very aggressive in positioning ourselves uniquely.”

I’m sure the folks at places like Houston and BYU would agree the entire process was messy but will certainly disagree with Gee about the Big 12 sticking with just 10 members. It certainly sounds as though the issue has been put to bed for the foreseeable future but if the merry-go-round gets going once again, at least we know that the process everybody goes through will be a lot different.

College Football Hall of Fame adds title sponsor

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The College Football Hall of Fame is no longer the College Football Hall of Fame. Well, it is, but it isn’t.

It’s still a massive museum dedicated to honoring our nation’s greatest sport, but it will no longer be known by that name. The Atlanta-based Hall has added a title sponsor, and it’s the same corporation that sponsors everything else college football within Atlanta, from the Peach Bowl to Paul Johnson‘s sock drawer (presumably) — Chick-fil-A.

The new name and logo was unveiled Thursday.

As of press time, there was no word on if the first 100,000 CFT readers will receive a free 12-pack of nuggets upon entry.

Report: Cannabis oil not the reason C.J. Harris denied walk-on opportunity at Auburn

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A major brouhaha broke out on social media last last week when it was reported that C.J. Harris was denied by the NCAA an opportunity to walk-on at Auburn because of his prescription for cannabis oil, which he uses to prevent epileptic seizures. Harris claims to be seizure free since January 2017 thanks to the medication.

“After Auburn coaches and staff took a second look at his medical records, they told Harris’ father Curtis that his son could not compete in NCAA athletics while he was taking cannabis oil,” reported WGXA-TV, which broke the story.

“You’re taking something away from a kid who’s worked so hard in his life to get there,” Curtis Harris, the player’s father, said. “And you’re just taking it away because he’s taking a medication that’s helping with his disability.”

But according to Brandon Marcello of Auburn Undercover, the story is more complicated than that. A source told Marcello that it was Auburn’s doctors, and not NCAA rules, that will prevent Harris from suiting up for the Tigers. Writes Marcello:

Auburn’s team physician did not clear Harris due to the pre-existing medical conditions, a source close to the Auburn football program said. The Auburn medical staff was concerned about the epilepsy and wanted to protect his well being in a full-contact sport that could lead to head trauma, the source said.

That information will not stop people from ripping on the NCAA, however, largely because it’s fun to rip on the NCAA.

But the Harris situation is a flashpoint in a larger cultural issue. Public opinion on marijuana is changing — 61 percent of Americans believe it should be legal, according to a Pew Research poll in January, an increase from 57 percent in 2017 and a massive leap from the 31 percent who thought the same in 2000 — and cannabis is already legal for purchase on a medical basis in 29 states. And the opinion of Auburn’s doctors doesn’t change the fact Harris would still be ineligible under current NCAA rules.

However, the NCAA’s Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports has discussed “medical marijuana and CBD products at recent meetings” and will do so again at its next gathering in June, according to SB Nation. The Harris situation — and the subsequent public reaction — should be a a topic of conversation.