Manti Te'o, his fake girlfriend and three Georges

COMMENTARY — How the hoax at Notre Dame relates to a football coach's lies, the Brady Bunch and ESPN.
by Berry Tramel Published: January 17, 2013

It's no more preposterous that a Notre Dame linebacking stud would have to get his girlfriend off the Internet than for Jan Brady to have to invent boyfriends.

Jan, one of the heartthrobs of my youth, was somehow unpopular in the shadow of older sister Marcia, so she concocted George Glass.

Poor Jan had to think on her own. She had little help from the world wide web. On the Internet, you can find a website that lists the steps to create a fake boyfriend or girlfriend.

Much of it is common sense — make sure you have the big details down pat; keep your (nonexistent) meetings to a minimum — and the confidence men who put this together mostly aced it on Lennay Kekua.

But then came tip No. 12. “Don't Oversell It.”

Uh-oh. Te'o oversold it.

And it's clear that Te'o or his hoaxsters were loyal viewers of another iconic television show. In a 1973 M*A*S*H episode, Hawkeye and Trapper John invented Capt. John Tuttle so he could benefit an orphanage. Then things get messy, as Te'o can well attest, and the doctors had to kill him off.

Let it be a lesson. Don't get too attached to fake people. They die too young.

George Bodenheimer. The executive chairman of ESPN.

King Bodenheimer is not alone. This was not American journalism's finest hour. Clues littered the path of the Te'o/Kekua romance, but no one picked up on them. Not ESPN. Not Sports Illustrated. Not The New York Times. Not the Tribunes of Chicago and South Bend.

There but for the grace of God goes us. Notre Dame landed in our backyard in October for a showdown in Norman. That was after Kekua's, uh, death.

Lucky for us, we had too many stories to write about the Irish ending OU winning streaks and Knute Rockne's grandson living in Edmond and the Play Like A Champion Today debate and Bob Stoops' high school coach playing for Notre Dame against the Sooners in 1952 and 1953.

We could have stepped into the Te'o mess ourselves. We didn't, but others did. And were party to a hoax that has soiled Notre Dame's greatest football season in more than 20 years.

Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at btramel@opubco.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.

by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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