What's next for Manti Te'o?


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.

Schedule watch: The curse of beating Notre Dame grows in strength

Schedule watch: The curse of beating Notre Dame grows in strength

The five teams Notre Dame has lost to this season are a combined 10-19 when they don't play the Irish after yet another week in which Texas, Michigan State, N.C. State and Stanford lost in various levels of embarrassing fashion (Duke was spared on a bye week). Notre Dame can point to its narrow losses all it wants, but it hasn't played a difficult schedule at all to date. 

Before running down the action from Notre Dame’s bye week, your weekly Irish opponent power rankings:

1. Navy (5-1)
2. Virginia Tech (5-2)
3. USC (4-3)
4. N.C. State (4-3)
5. Miami (4-3)
6. Stanford (4-3)
7. Syracuse (4-4)
8. Texas (3-4)
9. Duke (3-4)
10. Army (4-3)
11. Nevada (3-5)
12. Michigan State (2-5)

On to the games:

Texas: Lost, 24-21, at Kansas State

The Longhorns are 3-4 and Charlie Strong’s job is very much in jeopardy. It wouldn’t be altogether surprising to see them hit the seven-loss mark by mid-November with games against Baylor, at Texas Tech and against West Virginia looming. 

Nevada: Lost, 42-34, to Wyoming

The Wolf Pack are 3-5 and need a major turnaround to reach a bowl game. 

Michigan State: Lost, 28-17, at Maryland

Michigan State’s only wins are over FCS side Furman and Notre Dame. Their losses are to Wisconsin (by 24), Indiana (by three), BYU (by 17), Northwestern (by 14) and Maryland (by 11). The Spartans have to two of Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State and not lose to Illinois and Rutgers to make a bowl game. In short: It’s not happening. 

Duke: Bye week

The Blue Devils had the week off before a trip to Georgia Tech that’ll probably determine whether or not they reach  bowl game this year. 

Syracuse: Won, 28-20, at Boston College

Full credit to Dino Babers’ Orange for another win — getting to four this early in the season is a nice accomplishment in Year 1 heading things up at a difficult place to win. After a bye week, though, Syracuse gets Clemson, N.C. State, Florida State and Pitt, so getting to six wins is hardly a guarantee. 

N.C. State: Lost, 54-13, at Louisville

A week after nearly knocking off Clemson, N.C. State was carved up by Lamar Jackson (20/34, 355 yards, 3 TDs, 17 carries, 76 yards, 1 TD), but more surprising was how ineffective the Wolfpack offense was. Ryan Finley threw two picks while the team combined to rush 25 times for only 14 yards. 

Stanford: Lost, 10-5, vs. Colorado

Christian McCaffrey’s return (21 carries, 92 yards, 2 receptions, 26 yards) didn’t make a difference as Stanford reverted back to its baffling struggles a week after beating Notre Dame. After the game, David Shaw took responsibility for Stanford’s issues, saying “our personnel doesn’t reflect our production, and all the fingers point to me. That’s on me. That’s my responsibility to get the most out of the players we have.”

Miami: Lost, 37-16, at Virginia Tech

Notre Dame should heed these numbers:

Meanwhile, Miami has fallen hard since starting the season 4-0. A one-point loss to Florida State and a seven-point loss to North Carolina weren’t awful, but getting blown out by three touchdowns on the road at Virginia Tech effectively took the ‘Canes out of the ACC Coastal race. Miami’s losing streak is now longer than Notre Dame’s coming into Saturday, for what it’s worth. 

Navy: Won, 42-28, vs. Memphis

Navy rushed for 447 yards on 74 carries and quarterback Will Worth had 201 yards and three touchdowns as the MIds powered their way to another solid win. A tricky Friday trip to South Florida awaits before Navy faces Notre Dame in Jacksonville in early November. 

Army: Lost, 35-18, vs. North Texas

A home loss against North Texas might be the death knell for Army’s hopes of reaching its first bowl game since 2010. The Black Knights’ remaining games: At Wake Forest, vs. Air Force, vs. Notre Dame. vs. Morgan State and vs. Navy. At best, there are only two wins in there, one would think.

Virginia Tech: Won, 37-16, vs. Miami

This was a nice rebound game for the Hokies after losing last week to Syracuse. Jerod Evans completed 21 of 33 passes for 259 yards with two touchdowns and ran 19 times for 98 yards with a score, while Virginia Tech’s defense held Miami running backs Joseph Yearby and Mark Walton to 87 yards on 20 carries — with 41 of those yards coming on one Yearby carry. 

USC: Bye week

With a home game against Cal on Thursday coming up, USC got Saturday off to rest up for what should be a high-scoring evening in Los Angeles. 

Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick tells ESPN Brian Kelly will be back in 2017

Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick tells ESPN Brian Kelly will be back in 2017

Brian Kelly's job at Notre Dame apparently is not in jeopardy despite the team's 2-5 start to the 2016 season. 

Irish athletic director Jack Swarbrick told ESPN.com that Kelly "will lead this team out of the tunnel opening day next year."

Kelly has come under fire for his perceived penchant for criticizing players before himself as well as his behavior on the sidelines as Notre Dame's chances of becoming bowl eligible have slipped this season. The seventh-year Irish coach, though, was praised for his relationship with his team by Swarbrick, who told ESPN it's "probably as strong as any that I've seen with him at Notre Dame." Multiple players said after Notre Dame's loss to Stanford last weekend that they didn't believe Kelly had lost the team

Kelly and Notre Dame agreed to a six-year contract extension in January that runs through the 2021 season.