Manti Teo, you fooled us all. Ok, not all of us, just the people who over indulge in college football news. Read all about it on 11W.
There's a bigger and better CFB media hoax... It all started back in the pre-1995 era. It was a pretty good era no one knows about, some of the best Simpsons episodes ever made. There was also a world war or two, answering machines, and dinosaurs. Any way sit back and learn about the greatest CFB hoax.
Have you ever met a former player from the 1941 Plainfield Teachers' football team? Of course not, they didn't exist.
Like Teo's girlfriend, they were a figment of someone's imagination. More specifically, Morris Newburger's imagination. A Harvard educated stock broker with a jovial spirit, some free time on Saturday, and a phone (having a phone was a bigger deal back then). Morris would phone the New York Times and his buddy phoned the Philadelphia papers with results from Plainfield Teachers gridiron. In late October Newburger called in the scores for Plainfield's first three games.
While their mascot was the lion, everything else was unconvential. They boasted a Hawaiian quaterback, Johnny Chong, named after Newburger's Chinese dry cleaner. The media sensationalized Chong as "The Celestial Comet," who, according to Plainfield's ficticious Public Relations Manager Jerry Croyden, replenished himself during half time with a big bowl of wild rice.
The "Lions" were coached by Ralph "Hurry Up" Hobiltzel. He pioneered the infamous 'W' formation where the backs actually faced the opposite direction (insert Jim Bollman joke here). The 'W' formation was effective as Hobiltzel's squad ouscored their opponents 117-3 in their first 6 games. Plainfield routed Randolph Tech 35-0 on the same day Notre Dame and Army fought to a scorelss tie. The future was looking bright for this undefeated 6-0 small town squad.
For 4 weeks the New York Times reported the score of Plainfield Teachers. Red Smith, a newspaper reporter for the Philadelphia Record, uncovered the hoax. Sensing trouble was near, the school's agent Jerry Croyden (err... Newburger) released, "Due to flunkings in the mid-term examinations, Plainfield Teachers College has been forced to call off its last two scheduled games with Appalachian Tech tomorrow and with Harmony Teachers College on Thanksgiving Day."
- Red Smith would become a famous writer for the NY Times and is remembered for his harsh criticism of Muhammad Ali.
- The Pranksters claimed Plainfield Teachers was in New Jersey or, as it's now referred, Big Ten Country
- Chong accounted for 69 of the teams' points and his home state of Hawaii has an annual Rice Festival (ask about their Halftime specials)
- Pearl Harbor was bombed 16 days after the "season" was cancelled
Ok, ain't that a nice story... I remember reading this in a Hall of Shame Sports book once. I feel the situation requires some sources:
- http://www.newyorker.com/archive/1941/11/29/1941_11_29_013_TNY_CARDS_000188722 (requires a subscription to The New Yorker...)
Now, let's all share our favorite Lennay Kekua (Teo's deceased imaginary girlfriend) memories in the comments.