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Dr. Saturday

Doc Five: The most famous girlfriends in college football – No. 3, “Lennay Kekua”

Frank Schwab
Dr. Saturday

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Dr. Phil with Ronaiah Tuiasosopo (AP)

This offseason we will count down various topics from Monday through Friday, bringing you the top five of the important and definitely some not so important issues in college football. It's the Doc Five, every week until we will thankfully have actual games to discuss.



Well, you knew "she" was coming. When you do a Yahoo! search and there are 161,000 results for a person who never existed, that's pretty famous. Or infamous.

Lennay Kekua is the pseudonym of Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o's girlfriend who we thought died in September but found out in January she never existed.

It'll be fun to do a quick rundown of this tale.

• Te'o had a girlfriend he's never met except online. He says he cared deeply for her. He was told she died of leukemia in September, and Te'o played through grief. This became a major story. The backstory may have helped Te'o win seven major national awards.

• On Dec. 6, Te'o received a call from a phone number with a voice he knew as Kekua. She's alive! That's when the craziness really started.

• Te'o tells Notre Dame about the phone call, Notre Dame kinda sorta investigated, said Te'o was a victim of a hoax, but didn't have a press conference (and Te'o doesn't come clean either), which would have molded the story in Te'o's favor and probably made him sympathetic. Instead ...

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Diane O'Meara, whose pictures Tuiasosopo used, claiming she was Kekua (AP)

• Deadspin drops a bombshell on Jan. 16, letting the world know Kekua never existed. It was a hoax put on by Ronaiah Tuiasosopo (pictured at the top with Dr. Phil) using pictures of an unknowing Diane O'Meara (to the right) to help pull off the hoax. Many people still, to this day despite any real evidence, are convinced Te'o was a key part of the whole hoax as well. Multiple people probably have carpal tunnel now from the subsequent hours or texting and tweeting after that story was posted.

• The media circus started. Tuiasosopo went on Dr. Phil. Te'o talked to Jeremy Schaap and Katie Couric. O'Meara, for some reason, went on "Today." There were a lot of tears. Te'o gave the uncomfortable "Faaaaaarrrrr from it" quote. I have no idea what O'Meara said, someone will have to fill me in. Never mind, please don't. Everything in this paragraph needs to be scrubbed from all our memories.

• Te'o said he had real emotions for Kekua. Tuiasosopo said he loved Te'o. Everyone else pretty much hates Te'o, who is named the second-most disliked athlete in America.

• There's other supremely goofy parts of the story, like "Kekua" reportedly telling Te'o on Dec. 6 that she faked her death to avoid drug dealers, the odd scene of Tuiasosopo performing Kekua's voice on Dr. Phil, and ... well, there were a lot of absolutely ridiculous parts to the story. If you don't know them all, be thankful. Then Te'o ran terribly at the scouting combine, which has nothing to do with it but you're not gonna think of anything concerning Te'o without associating him with "Lennay Kekua" for a long time.

There you have it. The weirdest story in college football history. Or at least the only one with a Heisman Trophy runner-up being shamed publicly because he had a girlfriend he thought existed and died, but the whole time it was a burly man on the other end of the phone who could impersonate a woman so well he fooled multiple experts who swore it was a woman.

For all of our sanity, let's hope that the list of "most famous fake girlfriends in college football" remains at one entry for the rest of eternity.

Previously on the Doc Five ...
No. 5: Sarah Savage
No. 4: Olivia Manning

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