So Manti Te'o had an incredible story that ended up only being half true. Yes Te'o unfortunately lost his grandmother BUT there was never a girlfriend who had passed from Cancer nor did she apparently ever exist.
I thought we would put together a laundry list of stories including the incredible job by Deadspin with the initial report that exploded onto the scene. So essentially consider this my best attempt at a timeline.
It all begins on WEDNESDAY with the original Deadspin story. The story includes the intial response from Notre Dame, the statement from Te'o and of course the claim that Te'o knew she was a fake and built up the story for publicity.
Later on Wednesday night Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick held a press conference that basically went all in defending Te'o. In addition to supporting Te'o, Swarbrick became emotional in defending the integrity of the Irish linebacker.
Late Wednesday night and into Thursday we started to get more details about how the scam may have played out... in fact, we learned that two twitter users (@jayRahz and @ceeweezy51) were tweeting about the fake girlfriend in early December.
As the story continues to grow, noted college football writer Clay Travis checks in with a great breakdown of what had happened. The one angle that Travis hit on that became very interesting to me was the claim that Notre Dame may have encouraged Te'o to continue to lie about the situation:
This will be overshadowed, but once Notre Dame knew that the dead girlfriend story was a hoax on December 27th, it allowed the dead girlfriend hoax to be perpetuated through the BCS title game. In fact, AD Swarbrick said he told Te'o not to address the issue specifically if he was asked about it.
As expected (and I'm not knocking this) many who had written glowing stories surrounding the Te'o story start to explain the mindset. Pete Thamel I thought did the best job in basically publicizing his transcript of his one on one with Te'o.
Deadspin followed up its initial report with a run down of all the "Media Screw-Ups" in following and covering this story. From a possible 7a funeral to about 7 different times of death, it was pretty incredible to see how many times that "WE" mis-reported or didn't cross check this story.
Suddenly a series of anonymous players started talking to sports reporter Jackie Pepper and ESPN reporter Bob Holtzman. But as soon as everyone had basically taken the word of two anonymous players as the gospel, several named players have come out in support of Te'o.
Yahoo sports reporter Pat Forde has been an unabashed defender of Te'o as an innocent victim, which of course remains to be seen. But did provide this interesting report on Thursday morning. Apparently Te'o passed on the chance to release his story about the ficitional relationship. Thus Deadspin was able to run with the story and the public was able to formulate its opinion based on an incredible job of reporting outside of hearing it from Te'o himself.
And finally (of coruse there will be more)... we are still waiting for Te'o to tell his side of the story. So far, all we have is a release that apparently was penned on Tuesday which was about 24 hours before the actual story broke on Deadspin. But even though we have yet to hear from Te'o, his family is doing its part to spread the word that he was nothing more than a pawn in an elaborate Catfish. We wait for Te'o, but hear from his Uncle on The Zone Sports Network.
So now we wait to see how this story ends. Do we buy that Te'o was an innocent victim? Will he wait to speak unti the NFL Combine and by that point what is going to be the latest twist and turn in this saga that almost defies explanation.
UPDATE -- 12:23 -- Has ESPN cracked the case? Or created more questions.
Shelly Smith reports that not only had Tuiassasopo pulled this before, but apparently he is the person behind this hoax on Te'o. Jason Whitlock is his typical fashion thinks its a big game of CYA from the media.