Heard any good jokes lately?
I haven’t or at least not ones that I believed to be funny.
Twitter and Facebook are full of them as everyone seems to have a punch line for the Manti Te’o hoax story. However, that’s where you lose me.
See, I don’t think this situation is funny in the least. In fact I think it’s just plain sad … sad on so many levels.
I feel sad for Te’o.
IF the Notre Dame linebacker was indeed duped into believing he was having an online relationship with a woman, it’s sad to think he put his heart, faith and trust into something that wasn’t real. The fact that he felt the need to hide and lie about this relationship to family and friends is even more troubling.
IF Te’o did perpetrated the hoax, as some have speculated, in order to possibly gain national attention, then it’s sad to think that a superstar football player at a major college would believe that he would need to do so to create some sort of sympathy for himself. To gain attention and possibly earn recognition from his peers.
I feel sad for college football.
With the recent scandals in the sport including Nevin Shapiro at Miami and Jerry Sandusky at Penn State, this college football season appeared to be scandal-free. One that was even punctuated by a national championship game that featured Alabama and Notre Dame, two programs which best represented the history and tradition of college football.
Now, instead of the nation praising Alabama for winning its second straight BCS national championship and the seventh straight by a school from the Southeastern Conference, the sport once again finds itself forced to watch another scandal unfold.
I feel sad for Notre Dame.
It was Notre Dame fueled, in part, by the national attention garnered by Te’o that put the Fighting Irish back on the proverbial college football map after being lost for nearly two decades. His story along with the football team’s phenomenal and somewhat surprising play, landed the program back in the spotlight and on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
I feel sad for the journalists.
A lot of good people got swept up in the Te’o phenomenon. The death of a grandmother and the death of a girlfriend all on the same day? You couldn’t write a better script, but apparently that’s all this was. Sure, the grandmother part was true, but to think that the girlfriend didn’t exist is just too much to even comprehend.
It never would have occurred to me that when Te'o stood in front of me after the ESPN college football awards in Orlando on Dec. 6, 2012 to ask whether or not he had gotten a congratulatory call from beyond the grave. Certainly, there was no change in his demeanor when he spoke moments after the awards ceremony. Nothing that I would consider abnormal or noteworthy.
There are those who are not without fault. A simple phone call here, an online search there and red flags would have been raised a lot sooner. Perhaps enough to avoid making this situation out into a national scandal. When programs like ‘Entertainment Tonight’ and TMZ begin covering the story, perhaps it’s time we took a step back.
For many in this business, the idea of pretending to have an online relationship with someone is as foreign as online dating itself. However, there’s a whole generation that is growing up with the idea of people not being who they say they are especially on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook, where anonymity is just a click away.
Even after the documentary, “Catfish” was released, people of a certain age still don’t quite understand how a 22-year-old college-educated football player could wind up getting fooled online. It happens a lot more often than you would believe.
That’s where the jokes on them.
Don't forget about Matt's Murschel's weekly mail bag. If you have any college football questions you would like answered or just issues or players you would like his thoughts on please email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @osmattmurschel.