On a day when Chip Kelly created shock waves leaving Oregon for the Philadelphia Eagles, Deadspin dropped an atomic bomb into college football's lap by publishing an investigative report that shredded one of the feel good stories of the season.
Manti Teo's girlfriend not only never died, but she was never real.
An hour after the story was published, Notre Dame released a statement:
On Dec. 26, Notre Dame coaches were informed by Manti Te’o and his parents that Manti had been the victim of what appears to be a hoax in which someone using the fictitious name Lennay Kekua apparently ingratiated herself with Manti and then conspired with others to lead him to believe she had tragically died of leukemia. The University immediately initiated an investigation to assist Manti and his family in discovering the motive for and nature of this hoax. While the proper authorities will continue to investigate this troubling matter, this appears to be, at a minimum, a sad and very cruel deception to entertain its perpetrators.
University Spokesman | Assistant Vice President
90 minutes after the story broke, Manti Te'o released a statement of his own:
This is incredibly embarrassing to talk about, but over an extended period of time, I developed an emotional relationship with a woman I met online. We maintained what I thought to be an authentic relationship by communicating frequently online and on the phone, and I grew to care deeply about her.
To realize that I was the victim of what was apparently someone's sick joke and constant lies was, and is, painful and humiliating.
It further pains me that the grief I felt and the sympathies expressed to me at the time of my grandmother's death in September were in any way deepened by what I believed to be another significant loss in my life.
I am enormously grateful for the support of my family, friends and Notre Dame fans throughout this year. To think that I shared with them my happiness about my relationship and details that I thought to be true about her just makes me sick. I hope that people can understand how trying and confusing this whole experience has been.
In retrospect, I obviously should have been much more cautious. If anything good comes of this, I hope it is that others will be far more guarded when they engage with people online than I was.
Fortunately, I have many wonderful things in my life, and I'm looking forward to putting this painful experience behind me as I focus on preparing for the NFL Draft.
Which doesn't seem to jive at all with this Te'o's father's statements. Here he is telling the South Bend Tribune that Manti met his girlfriend in Hawai'i:
"They started out as just friends. Every once in a while, she would travel to Hawaii, and that happened to be the time Manti was home, so he would meet with her there. But within the last year, they became a couple.
"And we came to the realization that she could be our daughter-in-law. Sadly, it won't happen now."
The reaction on Twitter was swift (and funny).
I have to say, inventing a dead girlfriend is the boldest Heisman stunt ever. Makes a Times Square billboard seem quaint— Dan Wetzel (@DanWetzel) January 16, 2013
Hesitant to say it because I don't really know what to believe. But if this is true, it's the Internet at its best. deadspin.com/5976517/manti-…— Matt Hinton (@MattRHinton) January 16, 2013
Ever since people shit themselves over Tressel lying about petty cash/tattoos: 1) Hooker abortions at Miami 2) Jerry Sandusky 3) Manti T'eo.— Ramzy Nasrallah (@ramzy) January 16, 2013
If Notre Dame was as powerful as they think they are, Twitter would have crashed 10 minutes ago.— Brian Marcolini (@marcolini11) January 16, 2013
Joe Posnanski is nearly finished his Manti Te'o biography— .362/.609/.812 DOG (@Phylan) January 16, 2013
One meeting, and I miss Chip Kelly's leaving Oregon. Another meeting, and I miss the Te'o stuff. I need to stop working.— Vico (@ourhonordefend) January 16, 2013
That was a fast response by Notre Dame. Iowa would have responded next week with a breakdown of how the Internet works.— Adam Kramer (@KegsnEggs) January 16, 2013
If Notre Dame has really known about this for 3 weeks and thought that statement would fly, their whole PR department is fake as well.— Tom Orr (@TomOrr4) January 16, 2013
I saw my son being born. THE REST OF YOU ARE UNDER SUSPICION.— edsbs (@edsbs) January 16, 2013
What would be better, if he made it up or if she is dead? Either scenario is messed up. Hold your tongue in case the girl actually died— MIKE BENNETT (@mike63bennett) January 16, 2013
Please tell me this Manti Teo situation is not true! He might be the lamest dude alive...— Bradley Roby (@BradRoby_1) January 16, 2013
And then this...
Just so people know the media doesn't always paint the correct picture.. They just care about getting a good story and nothing else matters— Johnny Manziel (@JManziel2) January 16, 2013