Manti Te'o's silence on the subject of Lennay Kekua has only led to more digging and speculation -- and that's not a good thing for the ex-Notre Dame linebacker.
Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick explained Wednesday that Te'o found out Kekua didn't die and was a hoax on Dec. 6. But Awful Announcing turned up two instances of Te'o talking about his deceased girlfriend after Dec. 6, and the Associated Press also found another example.
An explanation of those remarks adds another question Te'o will have to answer at some point, less he risk losing more people on his side. Among the others: What was his relationship with Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, the man Deadspin pegged as being behind Kekua? Why did the Te'o family say the couple had met in person when, in fact, that was not true? What, exactly, were the specifics of Te'o's relationship with Kekua, called into question by an anonymous teammate?
Swarbrick was under the impression Te'o would speak on the matter as soon as Thursday, and earlier in the day it was reported ESPN's Jeremy Schapp had been tabbed to talk to the linebacker Thursday night. But those plans were scuttled at some point, and silence continues to persist from the Te'o camp.
But Tuiasosopo may be the key to this story. If he indeed was the mastermind behind Kekua, was he playing Te'o or did the pair execute the hoax together? Tuiasosopo and Te'o appeared to have some sort of relationship, per the initial Deadspin report and a few previous interactions on Twitter and Facebook.
CSNChicago.com's attempts to reach the Tuiasosopo family Thursday were unsuccessful, as has been the case for every other media outlet. Titus Tuiasosopo, Ronaiah's father, posted a message to his Facebook page early Thursday morning, however:
"I know so much has been splattered all over the media about my son & my family," the post read. "I also know that many who were born in a manger in Bethlehem & continue to walk on water will undoubtedly express their opinions. Those of you who know us the best still love us the most. It my hope & prayer that we allow the truth to take its course, wherever that may lead. My heart goes out to Manti & the Te'o Aiga. Please allow this young man to pursue his dream without judgement. He's an amazing role model for our youth and Samoan community."
In the comments, Lia Manu Tuiasosopo -- identified as a daughter of Titus and sister of Ronaiah -- posted: "manti doesn't deserve all the negativity. he deserves to succeed."
For right now, that's all we have from the Tuiasosopo camp. Te'o may ultimately speak -- the Associated Press reported that won't happen Thursday -- and when he does, he may provide answers to those previously-mentioned questions that appear to absolve him of any involvement.
But even if Te'o were involved, he almost certainly wouldn't admit it now -- not after releasing a statement Wednesday detailing how he was the victim of a "cruel hoax." If there's one lesson to be learned from this saga, it's to not blindly take someone at their word.
Still, Te'o could provide some clarity with reasonable answers to a list of pressing questions that's growing by the hour. If the Tuiasosopo family breaks its silence, we'll likely get more clarity.
For now, Te'o can help his case by speaking publicly. Perhaps he and his representatives are taking their time to get an airtight story straight. Even if that's the case, the speculation will continue to persist, and it won't all be favorable to Te'o.