(USA Today Sports Images)At about 11 a.m. Eastern time there was a rumor Manti Te'o's press conference was going to begin within the hour. Reporters in Indianapolis said on Twitter that a huge crowd started forming around the podium, waiting for the Notre Dame linebacker. The jokes started to come.
The first time you saw a picture of an empty whatever with the "There's Manti Te'o's girlfriend!" punchline you may have chuckled. Almost two months later, by the 5,000th time that joke has been told, if it's still funny to you, you need better entertainment in your life.
And the press conference time was actually mistaken. It was pushed back a couple hours. And that alone was news. It allowed the NFL Network's host and three analysts to again break down what the tale of the Te'o's girlfriend hoax meant for his NFL future. There was very little talk about what the All-American and possible first-round pick could bring to a NFL team as a player.
This is probably, sadly, Te'o's college legacy. As he goes through the process of graduating to the pros, this is what we're left with. Hugh Green, who was never a great pro, is still talked about with utmost respect more than 30 years after he dominated the defensive side at Pitt. Te'o was even more highly decorated, as any exclusively defensive player in college football history. Te'o won seven national awards and finished second in the Heisman Trophy race. He won't be remembered the same way as someone like Green.
Bednarik, Walter Camp and Bronko Nagurski won't be associated with Te'o. Lennay Kekua, Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, Dr. Phil, Katie Couric, a bunch of unfunny jokes that won't die and the same questions that get the same hard-to-believe answers will.
The questions needed to be asked on Saturday at the scouting combine. This was Te'o's first press conference since the hoax was revealed. He could have chose to handle it differently and have a press conference sometime since mid-January, but he apparently thought it would be better to face it all at once at the combine. Shutdown Corner's Doug Farrar, reporting from Indianapolis, said Te'o handled it well. Te'o also sounded like he wants to move on. Good luck with that.
If it wasn't the Lennay Kekua issue, Te'o's horrible performance against Alabama was the topic of conversation. That's fair. Alabama guard Chance Warmack (who, by the way, is a great player in his own right) swallowed him up in the BCS Championship Game. That led to legitimate questions about Te'o's NFL future. But it has become clear that Te'o's legacy, at least outside of South Bend, will have asterisks. A fake girlfriend, with a bad final game a distant second. NFL teams eventually won't care about all the outside stuff in Te'o plays as well as he did in college. But for college fans, things have changed for a player who was recently named the second most disliked athlete in America by Forbes.
Te'o played four years of great college football for Notre Dame, and in 2012 had one of the best seasons ever for a defensive player. The circus surrounding Te'o has made most of that moot.