Thursday Skull Session

By Chris Lauderback on January 17, 2013 at 6:00a

So, yesterday was pretty cool if you are one of the good people on Earth that don't mind seeing Notre Dame squirm in embarrassment. 

You've heard the story by now; you know, the one where the current face of the school, Manti Te'o, was reportedly the victim of an elaborate hoax in which he thought his girlfriend, Lennay Kekua – you know, the one who Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick says Te'o never met in person – was a real girl that died of leukemia last September 12th before coming back to life last December to give Te'o the good news. 

While Swarbrick, and by extension Notre Dame, held an hourlong presser last night, defending Te'o to the fullest, Deadspin isn't so sure based on their own investigation. Their article goes so far as to publish comments from one person connected to the investigation as saying he's ""80 percent sure" that Manti Te'o was "in on it" and that the intention was publicity. 

The only thing certain right now is that inconsistencies abound and this saga is far from dead. 

Swarbrick clearly feels like Te'o was duped or else he'd be a fool to go on national television and tear up as he lamented Te'o's likely inability to ever trust and love on such a high level ever again. 

But if Te'o truly is the victim here, and told Swarbrick point blank he had never actually met the girl in person, then why is his father, Brian Te'o, quoted as saying the following in a South Bend Tribune article dated October 12, 2012 that has since been removed from the site (cached version here): 

"They started out as just friends," Brian Te'o said. "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."

Further, the South Bend Tribune, way back in 2009, wrote that Kekua and Te'o had met in person, though Te'o sang a different tune to Swarbrick. 

And how does a guy who is supposedly as good as gold and of the highest character not make it a point to attend her funeral? The initial reports claimed the funeral was the date of the Michigan State game but how could someone of his alleged character not at least take a trip to pay his respects or visit with his girlfriend's family either before of after? 

Swarbrick said he thought Te'o would step in front of the microphone sometime Thursday. Pass the popcorn. 

UNIVERSITY OF SWINGING CHILDREN. The only negative to the whole Te'o situation is that it is hogging all the bad press when there's a perfectly good dumpster fire in SoCal to douse with gasoline. 

A couple days ago, it was high school coach Kurt Bruich fanning the flames as he stood up for Kyle Fitts, his four-star defensive end. Fitts committed to USC last April and was set to enroll at USC in January. In prep, Fitts met with USC coaches on January 5 at the US Army All-American Bowl but things changed quickly:

Two days later, on Jan. 7, USC told Fitts that it would not have a spot available for him in the spring. As a result, the coaching staff said Fitts would have to defer his enrollment until the fall semester. While Fitts' scholarship wasn't pulled, it was pushed back. More than that, Fitts received the news just three days before he was set to enroll.

Sticking up for his player, Bruich spoke his mind about Lane Kiffin:

"Recruiting man, it's crazy. He's wanted to go to USC for as long as he can remember and now he feels betrayed. He did everything he was supposed to do from his end and he was a loyal kid. I think they thought because of that loyalty he'd still want to go there. He said to me 'What am I supposed to do for the next five months?' It seems shady. I think it seems shady to everyone."

And later on Twitter: 

"When people are desperate, their true colors show. Take the USC coach, captain of an underachieving ship. His true color: SHADY!"

Fitts makes four blue chips to say sayonara to Kiffin since November. 

Along with the backlash from the Fitts saga, Kiffin is also dealing with reports of a fight in the locker room, including as many as 15 players, following the beatdown in the Sun Bowl. Even worse, it's not like the fight was between the QB and WR squabbling over a girl; reportedly, the altercation came about as some freshmen challenged the seniors on their shoddy leadership during the season and a mailed-in effort in the bowl loss to Georgia Tech. 

Scott Wolf gathered quotes from a few players:

"It was one of the worst things I've seen in a locker room," said a player who did not wish to be identified.

Freshman offensive tackle Zach Banner did not wish to discuss the incident but said, "It's going to be a whole new family atmosphere next season and you can quote me on that. For the seniors, it's terrible."

Meanwhile, Matt Barkley and Kiffin both made comments downplaying the incident but it seems clear things got out of hand. That happens, and if even the story was blown out of proportion, it's still another log on the fire that keeps my heart warm at night. 

BIANCHI'S BACK. The Orlando Troll, Mike Bianchi, has launched another potshot at Urban Meyer, this time on the topic of Chris Rainey and his recent release from the Steelers after he was arrested on battery charges in Gainesville:

I never thought I'd see the day where the NFL would take a stronger stance on player discipline then our intercollegiate institutions of higher earning, er, learning.

Then again, when Urban Meyer is involved, it's not really so surprising.

Former Gators running back Chris Rainey was cut by the Pittsburgh Steelers after being arrested for allegedly hitting his girlfriend last week  Yes, the same Chris Rainey who threatened to kill his girlfriend via his infamous "Time to die" text message at UF three years ago. UF originally suspended Rainey, but Meyer allowed him back on the team a few weeks later so he could help the Gators win a big game against Georgia.

The way he writes, you'd think Rainey barely missed any action for the Gators three years ago following the first incident. In reality, Rainey, arrested September 14, 2010, missed five games including matchups against Alabama and LSU. Hard to believe Meyer wouldn't want Rainey back for those two matchups if it was important he play against Georgia. 

In the latest incident, Rainey's lawyer shared an email from the player's girl in which she said she was not assaulted, that charges should be dropped and that the officers on the scene found no marks on the woman's face. 

Now, I'm certainly not going to say Chris Rainey's a good guy but that doesn't excuse the latest hit piece from The Man with the Golden Grudge. You'd think Urban Pitino'd his wife or something. 

RIP, Lennay Kekua. We promise you'll never be forgotten

 PHLIP KELLY. Even Chip Kelly climbing into bed with the Eagles after weeks of flirting as the Oregon faithful waited in limbo couldn't knock Te'o off the front page. 

Last Saturday, it looked as if Kelly to Philly was likely dead but just days later, days Kelly spent in the homes of recruits in hopes of luring them to Eugene, Kelly was tabbed as Andy Reid's replacement. 

Through the Buckeye lens, two things immediately jumped to mind. First, were there any recruits Urban could pilfer? And second, could Kelly's departure, by the blessed hand of the college football gods, signal an upcoming heel stomp to the genitals of the Oregon football program? 

On the recruiting front, Dallas Jackson notes Oregon was already looking at a small class of roughly 13, a number that could decrease by signing day. One possible defection could be in the form of Dontre Wilson to Ohio State. Urban's been making eyes at Wilson and reports indicate OSU overtures have ramped up since James Quick verballed to Louisville during the US Army All-American game. 

Jackson on Wilson:

According to his head coach Claude Mathis, the four-star back will take visits to other programs while remaining a soft commitment to the Ducks. Mathis told that he expected Wilson to visit Ohio State this coming weekend and may also be considering Notre Dame and Clemson for future visits.

Keep up with Alex, Miles, Derek and the rest of the 11W recruiting crew as signing day inches ever closer. 

As with Wilson, it remains to be seen if the NCAA hammer will fall on the Ducks, thanks to their shady dealings with street agent Willie Lyles

META. Here we grows again. About a month ago, we posted the Intern opportunity of a lifetime and after weighing the submissions of no less than 30 stellar applications, we're please to announce Grant Miller has been called upon to serve as our Helfand Distinguished Raconteur-Scholar Intern for spring semester 2013. 

A Centerville lad, Grant is a journalism major who also contributes to Scarlet and Gray Radio. Besides catching him on the Twitter, you can find him taking care of our Around The Oval feature that revs back up Friday. Grant will also help out attending the various press events in addition to darning our socks, waxing our backs, and the like. 

Please welcome him to our little endeavor. We're excited to bring him aboard. 

HERE'S SOME OTHER STUFF. YouTube HOF: Best Acceptance Speeches... Denard will play WR in Senior Bowl... The Greatest College Football Highlight Film Ever...  John L. Smith lands at...Fort Lewis CoLOLege...  The 42 Best Moments on "The Maury Show" (you're welcome, and I'm sorry)... Tom Crean is such a cranky... 24 People You Do Not Want To Get In A Fight With... An opinion on how newly proposed recruiting rules changes would further complicate the process... RIP, Mr. Drummond.

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