When Alabama smothered Notre Dame in the BCS national championship game, most of the talk wasn't about the outstanding play by AJ McCarron's offense and the outstanding coaching by Nick Saban. It was about the flattering comments made by ESPN commentator Brent Musburger about how beautiful McCarron's girlfriend Miss Alabama Katherine Webb is.
Since then, she's become more of a topic of discussion and more of a household name than the whole Alabama team in the last two weeks. Now another story is diverting discussion about the losing team that had a great year despite being blown out: Notre Dame. But the news is not all positive or flattering.
We all have heard about the back-story of Manti Te'o and how he played through the pain of losing both his maternal grandmother and his girlfriend, Lennay Kakua, all in one day. His response to both personal tragedies made him an inspirational figure and fan favorite to both the Notre Dame faithful and to causal fans sports fans everywhere.
Well now we know from a report from Deadspin.com that only one of the personal tragedies is true while the death of Te'os girlfriend was not only a hoax but that Kakua doesn't exist. The sports blogging site published that report yesterday claiming that the story of Te'o's girlfriend wasn't true, that the girlfriend wasn't real, and the pictures of the woman was of another woman.
Now Te'o said in a statement yesterday that he had a crush on a woman online and that he's embarrassed by the situation. A bit later on, Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick said in a new conference that the school stands by Te'o and said that he was a victim of a hoax. But there are still questions that still have been left unanswered such as if Te'o was dating online than how did he know the women's real name? Why were there no pictures of him and the woman together? And when did Te'o know that the woman was fake? We know when it comes to personal stories in the media celebrities are under pressure to live up to what they say in their relationship in this up-close-and-personal media landscape. But this was a story that seemed real and we all were moved by it.
Notre Dame rallied around Te'o as he was discussing his pain of losing both his maternal grandmother and a young woman we now know never exsisted. This was a week where the focus at Notre Dame following the loss to Alabama should've been on Brian Kelly announcing that he was not leaving the Irish to go to the NFL. It was a positive developement that should've brought the focus back to the future of a challenged but resurgent football program.
Instead this story about Te'o's girlfriend now being a hoax threatens to overshadow the program and the face of it because of one lie. Both Te'o and Notre Dame itself discussed that story repeatedly this whole season and now has to give us a full explanation of what went down and why just like Lance Armstrong has to give a full confession other than an apology even though the damage he did to himself, his career, his reputation, and his brand will never be repaired.
Unlike Armstrong though, Te'o still has a bright future as a top ranked NFL draft pick and his football skills are still intact. But his reputation as a truthful person is on the line and in this environment, as Armstrong is realizing, a person that doesn't tell the whole truth will have it revealed sooner or later.