Notre Dame

Manti-ed Up in a Web of Lies

As you probably are aware, it has been a pretty crappy few days for former Notre Dame linebacker (and Heisman Trophy finalist) Manti Te’o*.

*Seriously, his week was so bad even Lance Armstrong feels sorry for him.

While new information, allegations, and claims continue to come out, we’re pretty much down to three likely scenarios for how this happened:

  1. Te’o was truly duped into believing that he was dating a person who did not exist.  Many of his early comments were what he believed to be the truth.  Once he grew suspicious/figured it out, he kept the lie going to protect his reputation (and draft stock).
  2. Te’o was in on it from the start, knew that Lennay Kekua was fictitious, and kept it up in an attempt to garner publicity/sympathy/attention/who knows.
  3. Te’o is a homosexual at a Catholic university playing a testosterone-driven sport.  He concocted a fake girlfriend to fit in, but had to “kill” her to avoid more questions.

Today – and this could change by the time I finish typing this sentence – I would go with he was truly duped.  Originally, I went with he was in on it, but I’m starting to have my doubts.  I doubt that Te’o is gay (not that there’s anything wrong with that), but given the numerous bizarre twists and turns in this story, I won’t rule it out.

Why don’t I think Te’o was in on the scam?  In reading some of his comments about Kekua’s “death” – especially the transcript of his interview with Sports Illustrated – I’ve decided that to pull off this scam as convincingly, and for as long as he did, Manti Te’o would have to be one hell of an actor, and/or one of the all-time great con artists.  Which he could be, but I don’t see it.

But if Te’o was honestly catfished*, there are some seemingly simple ways to prove it:

  • If you spend nights on end listening to her breathing into a phone while you slept, show us the phone records.
  • If he honored her final wishes to just send roses, let’s see a receipt (and the address they were sent to).
  • Give me a plausible reason for why you never used Skype/video chat/FaceTime to see your girlfriend that lived three time zones away.
  • Show me any one of a hundred other potential pieces of evidence.

*Thanks to Manti Te’o, I now know that Catfish is more than a fish with whiskers or a 70’s baseball player.  So there’s that.

But at this point, I’m not expected to get any of these items, because it would prove what I’m (and others) are starting to suspect:

Manti Te’o is a great football player, but is incredibly gullible (and likely a little naive/stupid).



Stuck Between a Crimson Tide Rock and an Irish Hard Place

Tonight is the BCS National Championship Game between the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.  I plan to watch the game, but I have absolutely no idea who I’m going to root for.  For me, it is a no-win, find the lesser of two evils proposition.  Consider:

A win by Alabama would be their third championship in four years, matching the run of dominance set by the Nebraska Cornhuskers from 1994 – 1997.  As a Nebraska alum and fan, I take great pride in that accomplishment, and I don’t want to see any other team match or exceed that feat.  In addition, I think I speak for all college football fans north of the Mason-Dixon when I say that the constant fawning over the almighty greatness of the Southeastern Conference.  It wouldn’t hurt my feelings at all to see the vaunted SEC knocked down a notch or two.

But on the other hand, there is Notre Dame.  To a lot of college football fans (myself included), Notre Dame is the team you love to hate; the team you always root against.  Think of the Duke Blue Devils in basketball, the New York Yankees in baseball, or the Dallas Cowboys in the NFL.  This is probably where I should provide a rational reason for disliking the Fighting Irish so much.  Maybe it is because of Lispy Lou Holtz.  Or the national infatuation with a program that hasn’t done much since the Reagan administration.  Or it could be any number of other reasons.  That’s the thing about disliking sports teams – it is rarely based in rational thought, and I’m not going to apologize for it.

So I must choose a side – especially since my preferred outcome (a hole opens up in the middle of the field, swallowing both teams) is unlikely to happen.  Therefore, I will grudgingly back Notre Dame*.  Maybe if I focus really hard I can convince myself that the Notre Dame fight song is meant for my high school, but it won’t be easy.

*That sound you heard was me throwing up in my mouth for having to type that. 

Why ND?  Because my loyalties to Nebraska trump everything else.  I don’t want a slime bag like Nick Saban to have the same bragging rights as the legendary Tom Osborne.  Nor do I want the sports media hype machine (beginning with the “worldwide leader”) proclaiming Alabama’s run as the greatest in modern history.

Especially since they would likely forget that Nebraska was a missed field goal away from a fourth title, and a flu outbreak/lucky 4th down call from playing for a fifth title.  In five years.



The BCS Worked (and a playoff wouldn’t)

Hello!  It’s your friendly, neighborhood playoff hater here to remind you of a little fact:

For the 2012 season, the BCS worked.

I’d also like to point out something else:

A four team playoff would leave at least two teams at home with considerable complaints – and legitimate claims that they should be playing for the title.

Let’s start with the BCS:  the purpose has always been to match up #1 vs. #2 in a winner-take-all Championship game.  And while the BCS has definitely struggled with fairly determining who the two best teams are, the consensus is the system got it right this year (just like they did last year).

Notre Dame is 12-0, the only undefeated team.  Alabama has one loss (to a pretty good Texas A&M team), but they won the SEC, widely considered the nation’s best conference.  While there are other very good teams with one loss, there has been very, very little talk that any of those teams were “slighted” out of a championship game appearance.

But let’s pretend that it is 2014, and the new four team playoff in effect.  A still to be named committee will be tasked with picking the four teams, using a still to be determined selection process.  Let’s assume that Notre Dame is in no matter what.  It still leaves the question:  who are the other three teams?

The committee would have a handful of worthy candidates, each with their own pros and cons:

  • Alabama.  Pros:  SEC champs, #2 in BCS.  One loss was to a good Texas A&M team.  Cons:  Not too many.  They’re almost guaranteed to be in.
  • Florida.  Pros:  #3 in BCS.  Lone loss was to Georgia.  Cons:  Didn’t even win division; Only beat Mizzou & Louisiana-Lafayette by seven.
  • Oregon.  Pros:  #4 in BCS.  Only loss was in OT.  Cons:  Didn’t even win division.
  • Kansas State.  Pros:  Won the Big XII.  Cons:  Got blasted by 7-5 Baylor
  • Stanford.  Pros:  Won the Pac 12; beat Oregon; took Notre Dame to OT.  Cons:  Lost to 7-5 Washington.
  • Georgia.  Pros:  Won SEC Eastern division.  Beat Florida.  Almost beat Bama in SEC title game.  Cons:  28 point loss to South Carolina.

And of course, just picking from this pool of teams leaves out conference champions from the ACC (Florida State), Big Ten (Wisconsin), and Big East (Louisville), as well as 12-1 Northern Illinois*.  But for now, let’s focus on the six teams above.  Which three deserve/have earned a chance to play for a championship?

*I don’t get the Kirk Herbstreits of the world who are up in arms about Northern Illinois getting into the Orange Bowl through a series of loopholes (being ranked in top 14, being ranked ahead of a BCS conference champion, having a coach who is pure of heart and can remove the Sword of Slive from a stone…),

Is Northern Illinois a weak 12-1 team with a loss to a dreadful Iowa team?  Yes.  Did they play an impossible weak schedule  (Iowa, Army, U Mass, Kansas, among other bottom feeders)?  Absolutely.  But so what?  These are the same people who complained in the past when the non-AQ darlings like Boise State, TCU, and Utah had to scratch and claw and beg and plead to get a BCS bowl bid.   Hypocrites.

When picking the teams that get into the playoff, what criteria and rationale do you use to make those picks?  I think you could make a case for using one or more of the following.  For each one, I’ve put who the four teams would likely be under that scenario:

  • BCS rankings.  I know, I know, you hate the BCS – especially those blasted computers – but the combination of human polls and computer rankings provides a pretty decent consensus of national opinions and metrics.  Notre Dame, Alabama, Florida, Oregon.
  • Human polls.  Are you going with the AP?  The coaches?  The Harris poll?  Here you’re looking at ND, Bama, Oregon, and Florida.  (Ohio State is actually #3 in the AP, but they are banned from the postseason this year.  Sorry Bucks!  Maybe you can get a tattoo of a championship trophy).
  • Conference champions only.  You can be in if you don’t win your conference.  ND (technically not in a conference, but we’ll let that slide since they’re 12-0), Bama, Kansas State, Stanford.
  • Strength of Schedule.  Who played the toughest schedule?  I found SOS rankings that included Florida, Bama, Georgia, and Stanford.  You should note that in both of the rankings I found, ND was not in the top four…
  • Best loss(es).  The idea here is that a 35-34 triple overtime loss at your blood rival’s stadium is “better” than a 56-9 home loss to Nobody State.  This is more subjective, but I’d say the four end up being ND (no losses), Oregon (to Stanford in OT), Florida (lost to Georgia), and Alabama (lost to Texas A&M).  Too bad KSU – that Baylor blowout kills you.
  • Eyeball test.  The most subjective of all:  my personal opinion.  An opinion that is tainted and influenced by all of the biases (school and conference affiliations, geography, rivalries, etc.) that I possess.  My eyeball four would be ND, Bama, KSU, and Oregon as I think they’ve been the best throughout the season.

You’ll notice that pretty much every set of criteria brought back a different four teams, which illustrates my biggest gripe with a playoff:  the more teams you have involved, the more teams that will have a legitimate gripe to claim they were snubbed.  Folks think a playoff is going to solve all the BCS controversy, when all it will do is shift the controversy from “who is #2” to “who is #4”.

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This isn’t the first time I’ve discussed college football’s post-season….Read more about:

And feel free to let me know how right (or wrong) I am in the comments.

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