What's next for Manti Te'o?

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What's next for Manti Te'o?

With less than a month separating Manti Teo from the NFL combine, the focus continues to be on his off-the-field girlfriend hoax rather than how his football skills will fit on an NFL club.

Lennay Kekua isnt going away, even though she never existed. Teo has now spoken on and off camera about the situation, making his case that he wasnt involved in any part of the hoax.

Now that Teo is likely done with interviews for a bit, his full attention can turn to preparing for the NFL combine next month in Indianapolis -- where questions about the hoax are sure to resurface.

Teo would be well-served to speak to reporters at the NFL combine and be open and honest about the Kekua hoax, but hes not required to meet the media in Indianapolis. He could just as easily deflect questions about the saga and only answer football-related queries, too.

But thats public questioning. Each team will have plenty of questions for Teo, with some probing into the Kekua hoax more than others.

One former NFL player told CSNChicago.com the best thing for Teo would be to be honest and forthright about the Kekua story, since NFL teams are likely just as willing as he is to move on from it.

The worst thing Teo could do, the former player said, was offer excuses about the story -- and, too, use Kekua as a reason for his poor play against Alabama in the BCS Championship. His off-the-field character wont be of much concern to teams, either, and theyll judge him on his football character -- in other words, his dedication, work ethic, love of the game, etc., the former player explained.

That doesnt mean Teo wont be questioned at all about the Kekua hoax by NFL teams. Some teams may dig deep to find the truth outside of interviews with Teo. But another former player told CSNChicago.com the linebackers saving grace is his agent, Tom Condon, who can keep the focus on football for his client in Indianapolis.

The Kekua saga likely wont affect Teo from a football standpoint, even in the hyper-scrutinized nature of the next three months leading up to the NFL Draft. From a personal standpoint, he and his family certainly want this saga -- one thats led the Teo name to become the butt of jokes from coast to coast -- to go away.

Teos interview with Couric wont close the book on this story, not with a bevy of questions lingering. Most of the evidence thats out there supports Teos claim, but yet questions remain regarding plenty of aspects to this bizarre story.

On Thursday, before Teos interview with ABCs Katie Couric hit the air, the lawyer of alleged perpetrator Ronaiah Tuiasosopo said it was his client who was talking to Teo the entire time -- in other words, Tuiasosopo was impersonating a female.

A trio of voicemails were released Thursday as well, with the messages purportedly left on Teos phone from the person he thought was Kekua certainly sounding like a female voice. Right now, the last part of this story yet to be filled in is from Tuiasosopos end -- when we hear from him (and hear his impression of Kekua, too) perhaps well move closer to closure on this saga.

But the complete details of everythings surrounding this saga may never be known. A large gray area will exist in which observers can draw conclusions one way or the other on Teo, Tuiasosopo and the entire story.

ESPN 1000 to be Notre Dame football, men's basketball flagship radio station

ESPN 1000 to be Notre Dame football, men's basketball flagship radio station

ESPN 1000 is Chicago's new flagship radio station for Notre Dame football and men's basketball broadcasts, with a multi-year agreeement being announced Tuesday. 

Notre Dame previously had its games broadcast on ESPN 1000 from 1999-2005. As part of the deal, IMG will produce Notre Dame football broadcasts, while ESPN will produce men's basketball games. 

"We are pleased to be partnering with Chicagoland’s leader in sports, ESPN 1000," Dan Skendzel, Notre Dame’s senior associate athletics director for media operations and branding, said. "In addition to the live broadcasts of Notre Dame football and basketball games, in-depth programming in the form of the Jack Swarbrick, Brian Kelly and Mike Brey Shows will now be available on Chicago radio.”

ESPN 1000's first Notre Dame game will be the Irish's season opener Sept. 4 against Texas. 

“In the world of college sports, there is nothing more prestigious to a broadcaster than teaming with Notre Dame,” Jim Pastor, general manager, ESPN Chicago 1000, said. “Returning Notre Dame football and basketball to our airwaves is great news for their legion of fans in Chicago and a great addition to ESPN 1000’s menu of championship play by play offerings.”

Notre Dame receiver Corey Robinson to step away from playing, will remain with program

Notre Dame receiver Corey Robinson to step away from playing, will remain with program

Corey Robinson announced Wednesday he’s stepping away from his Notre Dame football playing career due to multiple concussions. 

Robinson, a rising senior wide receiver, suffered his third concussion in 12 months during spring practice earlier this year and met with a head injury specialist in April. He was elected Notre Dame’s student body president in February, founded “One Shirt, One Body” and, among other accomplishments, sang the national anthem before a Chicago Bulls-Milwaukee Bucks game in April. 

Robinson did not participate in Notre Dame’s summer workouts, which began last weekend. Robinson wore his No. 88 jersey during Notre Dame’s Blue and Gold Game in mid-April but did not participate in the annual scrimmage. 

"After much contemplation and prayer, I have decided not to continue playing football due to multiple concussions," Robinson said. "I couldn't have come to this difficult personal decision without the incredible support from so many within the Notre Dame football program. I am extremely thankful to coach (Brian) Kelly and his staff for the life-changing opportunity to play football at the greatest university in the world. I will continue to help our team as a student assistant and look forward to a great senior year."

The San Antonio native, former four-star recruit and son of NBA Hall of Famer David Robinson caught 16 passes for 200 yards with a touchdown as a junior in 2015. It was a steep drop-off from his promising 40 catches, 539 yards and five touchdowns in 2014, though he would’ve provided valuable experience to a young Irish receiving corps had he returned to play this fall. 

With Robinson officially out of the picture, Notre Dame will lean on redshirt junior receiver Torii Hunter Jr. and redshirt freshman receiver Miles Boykin, as well as sophomore tight end Alize Jones, to play prominent roles as the team’s boundary-side receiver this fall. 

The player-to-student assistant plan is one followed in the Kelly era by former defensive lineman Tony Springmann, offensive lineman Conor Hanratty and linebacker/defensive end Doug Randolph. 

Robinson admitted in February he considered graduating early and giving up football — as former offensive lineman Steve Elmer did to pursue a job opportunity in Washington D.C. — but said at the time he wasn’t ready to give up his senior year of college. Even in walking away from football, though, Robinson can be pointed to as an example of what Notre Dame wants from its student-athletes after he achieved success on the field, in the classroom and in the community.

"This was an extremely tough decision for Corey," Kelly said. "He's such a committed kid to everything he does -- whether it be academics, football, community service or campus leadership initiatives -- that he wanted to finish his four-year career on the field. He was so excited to lead a group of young receivers this fall.

"While that won't happen in the manner Corey initially intended, he will remain involved with the program on a day-to-day basis as a student assistant. He sets a remarkable example for all of our players -- not only how to represent yourself on and off the field but also how working hard through adversity can lead to tremendous success."

Ranking Notre Dame's five most dangerous defensive opposing players

Ranking Notre Dame's five most dangerous defensive opposing players

Last week, we ranked the most dangerous offensive opposing players Notre Dame will face this season, a list headlined by Stanford's Christian McCaffrey. The Cardinal running back was an easy choice -- but picking the best defensive player Notre Dame will face in 2016 was a little more difficult. 

I wound up picking Michigan State defensive tackle Malik McDowell, an interior force who probably will be a first-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. The 6-foot-6, 275 pound Detroit native racked up 13 tackles for a loss and four and a half sacks last year, and Pro Football Focus compared him favorably to former Oregon defensive lineman DeForest Buckner. He's the guy Notre Dame's offensive triumvirate of Brian Kelly, Mike Sanford and Mike Denbrock will have to scheme against Sept. 17, because if he's able to terrorize the interior of the Irish offensive line, it could take away the run and make things a long day for DeShone Kizer & Co. 

J.B. Long and I had more disagreement on our rankings than we did on offense, with our full explanations in the latest Still Independent Podcast below. My top five:

1. Malik McDowell (Junior DT, Michigan State)
2. Malik Jefferson (Sophomore LB, Texas)
3. Corn Elder (Senior CB, Miami)
4. Iman Marshall (Sophomore CB, USC)
5. B.J. Hill (Junior DT, N.C. State)