Is Tuiasosopo preparing to tell his side of Te'o girlfriend hoax?


Is Tuiasosopo preparing to tell his side of Te'o girlfriend hoax?

As Manti Te'o and his parents will be interviewed by ABC's Katie Couric this week, another party in the bizarre Lennay Kekua hoax story may be readying a public statement.

According to the Associated Press, the Tuiasosopo family -- of which Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, the person identified as the perpetrator of the Kekua hoax, is a member -- has hired an attorney and will convene this week to discuss how to address the story.

"We want to do it right," Peter Navy Tuiasosopo, Ronaiah's uncle, said. The AP noted Tuiasosopo never directly talked about the hoax or described his nephew as being involved in it.

"We're just a family of faith. The family is holding up well," Tuiasosopo said. "They're holding up the way I would expect a family to. This is a storm."
Deadspin originally reported Ronaiah Tuiasosopo was the mastermind behind the Kekua hoax, and Te'o said this about him when asked by ESPN's Jeremy Schapp Friday night: "I hope he learns. I hope he understands what he's done. I don't wish an ill thing to somebody. I just hope he learns. I think embarrassment is big enough."

On Thursday, Te'o's great uncle Alema went after Tuiasosopo multiple times on a Salt Lake City radio station, saying: "Ronaiah Tuiasosopo is a liar, he concocted the whole thing, he misrepresented whatever program that he was trying to get across to Manti, and shoot, he lied every step of the way."

He added: "Ronaiah, if youre listening to me, bud, youre a liar and a dishonest man."

A response from the Tuiasosopo camp directly addressing the Kekua hoax may shed some more light on the saga. According to Te'o, Tuiasosopo admitted to the hoax last Wednesday via direct messages on Twitter.

But whatever the Tuiasosopo camp releases probably won't be enough to bring the story to a finite conclusion -- in fact, that may never happen. Whatever Tuiasosopo says -- if anything -- will add more information, but likely raise more questions about this strange saga.

Notre Dame sees a role for high-impact freshman Daelin Hayes

Notre Dame sees a role for high-impact freshman Daelin Hayes

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Brian VanGorder doesn’t want to give away the game plan, but it’s clear the third-year Irish defensive coordinator is going to find a way to get freshman defensive end Daelin Hayes on the field this fall. 

Hayes, a 6-foot-3, 250 pound former five-star recruit from Belleville, Mich., showed during August camp an impressive burst toward the quarterback — something Notre Dame’s defense has lacked since VanGorder took over in 2014. For example: During a full-contact 11-on-11 portion of one of Notre Dame’s practices open to the media earlier this month, Hayes rocketed into the backfield and sacked DeShone Kizer. 

“If you just looked at traits,” VanGorder said, “he’s got the trait.”

VanGorder was quick to point out Hayes still has plenty to learn as an all-around football player. But with Notre Dame able to do more with sub packages this year — they can thank Shawn Crawford’s health for that — Hayes is in a position to rush the quarterback as part of a third-down blitz. 

Defensive line coach Keith Gilmore said the plan for Hayes is to get him in on those passing down blitz packages, and then slowly see if he can handle a higher workload on first or second down (for now, Hayes is behind hand-in-the-ground weakside defensive ends Jay Hayes and Andrew Trumbetti on the depth chart). 

“I think just his ability to change direction and his explosiveness gives him a little bit of an edge that way,” Gilmore said. “We’ve got a few guys that can do it but he’s a special talent that way.”

[SHOP: Get your Notre Dame gear]

Gilmore admitted Hayes is still “a little bit behind strength-wise” after undergoing shoulder surgery in December. That procedure knocked out Hayes, who enrolled early, for spring practice and conditioning earlier this year, but Gilmore added that he’s “naturally strong” and doesn’t expect strength to be a problem as the season goes on. 

Gilmore, too, said Hayes has gone about his introduction to college life in a mature way that’ll help him see the field immediately. 

“I think he approached it differently than most freshmen,” Gilmore said. “I think he’s on track and going to play for us. He’s a freshman that’s got a great skillset, he’s a special kid that way and how fast that he can learn the defense and take it at a high speed once the bullets start flying, if he can do it will be the real issue. But athletically, he’s ready to play.”

Cementing coaches’ feelings about Hayes being ready to play: Brian Kelly said earlier this month that while Hayes has worked with the No. 1 Irish defense — which means going against left tackle stalwart Mike McGlinchey — he’s “faring quite well.” That may be the most promising soundbite about Hayes given how good Notre Dame’s redshirt junior left tackle and captain is. 

In typical football coach paranoia, VanGorder bristled a bit when asked if Hayes was going to begin as a sub-package pass rusher and eased into more standard down plays: “Is this for someone’s scouting report?” he asked. 

But no matter how coy VanGorder wants to be, it's clear Hayes is in a position to contribute to a defense in need of playmakers this fall. 

“I think we’ll find something for him to do,” VanGorder said. 

Podcast: How will Notre Dame's leadership look in 2016?

Podcast: How will Notre Dame's leadership look in 2016?

Leadership is one of those nebulous, unquantifiable things that can be overrated, but does have an impact on a college football team. To wit: Notre Dame survived last year's deluge of injuries not only because it could plug in talented players for Malik Zaire, Tarean Folston, Jarron Jones, etc., but also because it had strong leadership from captains Sheldon Day, Nick Martin, Joe Schmidt, Jaylon Smith and Matthias Farley, as well as a number of other veterans. 

Notre Dame doesn't have that same depth of leadership in 2016 with so many upperclassmen gone from last year's roster. But beyond captains Torii Hunter Jr., Mike McGlinchey, Isaac Rochell and James Onwualu, what kind of leadership does Brian Kelly & Co. have at their disposal?

Mike Monaco and I discussed that question on the Still Independent Podcast, plus offered our takes on Notre Dame's advanced stat projections and former Irish defensive coordinator Bob Diaco's penchant for cake analogies:


Advanced stats give Notre Dame around a 10 percent chance of playoff contention

Advanced stats give Notre Dame around a 10 percent chance of playoff contention

A pair of advanced statistical projections give Notre Dame between a 9.5 and 12 percent chance of winning 11 or more games this upcoming fall, a number that would get the Irish into contention for the College Football Playoff. 

S&P+, developed by SB Nation's Bill Connelly, gives Notre Dame a 9.5 percent chance of winning 11 or more games; while FEI, developed by ESPN/Football Outsiders' Brian Fremeau, gives the Irish a 10 percent chance of winning 11 games and a 2 percent chance of winning 12. 

Diving a little deeper into those numbers...

Notre Dame is ranked 13th in preseason S&P+ on the strength of an offense that projects to be one of the best in the country (5th). But Brian VanGorder's inconsistent defense is what's holding back that preseason ranking, with Notre Dame ranking 48th in preseason defensive S&P+. Notre Dame finished last season ranked 10th in S&P+ behind the seventh-best offense and 35th-best defense as rated by that statistic. 

S&P+ projects Notre Dame for 8.7 wins against a schedule with three top-25 teams and five top-40 teams (with the team's preseason S&P+ ranking in parentheses):

@ Texas (32)
Nevada (90)
Michigan State (21)
Duke (51)
Syracuse (47)
@ N.C. State (41)
Stanford (16)
Miami (31)
Navy (62)
Army (124)
Virginia Tech (33)
@ USC (9)

While Notre Dame avoids the ACC's five highest-ranked teams (Clemson, Florida State, Louisville, Pitt and North Carolina) home games against Miami and Virginia Tech could be tricky, as well as that early October trip to Raleigh to face a fringy N.C. State side.

This may be encouraging, too: the best defense Notre Dame is projected to face is Michigan State (13), but the Spartans are the only preseason top-20 defense on the Irish schedule. 

As for FEI, that system gives Notre Dame a 51 percent or better chance of beating 10 of its 12 opponents. Only in games against Stanford (47.5 percent) and USC (36.9 percent) is a loss more likely than a win. 

By FEI, Notre Dame has an 80 percent or better chance of winning these six games: Nevada (90.5), Duke (85.4), Syracuse (84.8), N.C. State (80.1), Miami (84.6) and Army (95.2). FEI gives Notre Dame a 69.7 percent chance of beating Texas to begin the season Sept. 4.