Manti Te'o Hoax: Welcome To The Club Notre Dame

USA TODAY Sports

The supposed hoax surrounding Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o is sending shock waves through the sports world. However, to Syracuse fans the story is something they would have seen coming months ago.

In the wake of the latest James Southerland news, I laid in bed Thursday night thinking about the numerous amount of sports-related topics that have broke in last five days.

Of course, the first topic running through my brain was the supposed elaborate hoax former Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o either had pulled on him or he pulled on all of us about his non-existing dead girlfriend.

The second thing that ran through my mind was Oprah's exclusive interview with Lance Armstrong.

Mixed in was the report Al Pacino was going to play Joe Paterno in a new upcoming movie called "Happy Valley."

After jumping around a bit, I settled back on the Southerland issue and what it could mean for the Syracuse basketball program.

From what we know, which is still very little in the bigger scheme of things, this could be the undoing of James Arthur Boeheim. But that's preparing for the worse.

Heck, we thought the Boeheim reign was possibly going to end last season after the Bernie Fine scandal, then the Fab Melo academic issue or the apparent Yahoo! Sports drug report.

However, if we learned one thing about the 68-year-old Boeheim, he's like the Terminator. He's only going to stop when he wants to stop or we dip him in a vat of lava.

Before I fell asleep my brain stopped on this thought: There's no way, now, Syracuse fans will ever fall for a "heroic" story like Manti Te'o, Lance Armstrong or Joe Paterno ever again.

Sure, we possibly have an unhealthy loyalty around Boeheim, but with all that has gone on in the last 18 or so months, if tomorrow the NCAA released a "death penalty" report on the Syracuse basketball program it wouldn't shock any of us.

I am not assuming Boeheim and company are guilty of anything that severe, I am just saying a majority of Syracuse fans are now that cynical.

Of course, we have been a cynical bunch for sometime. As much as we root for the best for our team we ALWAYS prepare for the worse. If it is too good to be true - like last season's nearly flawless team - it IS and eventually it will sink just as fast as the Titanic did.

(I am positive if a Syracuse sports fan was one of those in charge of the Titanic, it would have never sunk. Imagine this conversation between the engineer of the Titanic and a Syracuse fan.

Engineer: This ship is unsinkable.

Syracuse fan: Oh yeah? I am guessing, you didn't see the 1991 Syracuse-Richmond NCAA Tournament game? If I were you, I would add a few more lifeboats and life vests.)

Yet, with all the history of bad breaks (Georgetown fans would say karma, but whatevs) I believe, when we look back on it, the tipping point to Syracuse sports fan's cynicism will be the recent events of Doug Marrone leaving for the Buffalo Bills.

This single event could make us the most curmudgeonly bunch among them all.

See, if a program and head coach are around long enough NCAA infractions will happen, players getting in off-the-court trouble will happen, tough losses will happen.

That stuff hardens your shell to prepare you for the worse, but you can still trust the good in sports figures.

But when one of ours gives us his word - or the belief he's giving us his word - that they're going to be here for the long haul, bolts after just four seasons to the NFL; and takes most of the coaching staff with them. That's a horse of a different color.

Nationally, sports fans have been duped by sports figures since sports became such a huge part of our culture. However, it seems recently - because of 24-hour sports networks like ESPN, the growth of social media and we-have-nothing-to-lose websites like DeadSpin - the hoaxes are popping up more and more.

Think Brett Favre. Think Tiger Woods. Think Lance Armstrong. Think Joe Paterno. Think Manti Te'o.

In all of these cases a majority of us, at some point, believed in the myth (or lie) that these sports figures were rather perfect. We, in a way, do the same with Boeheim, who seemingly can do no wrong as long as he sticks around, wins basketball games and keeps us distracted from all the losing our other favorite sports teams do.

Though, there's one difference between Syracuse fans and the rest of the sports world - nothing shocks us anymore.

If Manti Te'o's scenario happened to Marquis Spruill...Right, bad example...Shamarko Thomas...Oh, right...Ryan Nassib this season we would have bought in, but there's no doubt in my mind TNIAAM's Sean Keeley would have written a witty piece about how unbelievable the story was.

Commentators over at Syracuse.com would have stalked Nassib's "girlfriend" and uncovered the lie themselves making the future Deadspin story confirm our inner, cynical thoughts - it was too good to be true and it is a good thing we tossed an extra survival kit in our lifeboats.

When your heart have been broken as many times as Syracuse fans, you become extremely skeptical and that's why the unmasking of stories like Woods, Paterno, Armstrong and especially Te'o's wouldn't rattle us.

(Syracuse fan: So, you're telling me my team exceeds all expectations by going undefeated, goes to a BCS bowl, gets pounded in said game - which gives college football experts credibility that Syracuse didn't deserve to be playing in said game because of an easy schedule - embarrassing the program on national TV and less than a month later out star player gets caught up in a "Catfish" scam? Yeah, sounds about right.)

It wouldn't rattle us even if it happened to a player like Nassib. In fact it would give us a clearer understanding of why No. 12 played so well during the season (he was playing for his fallen love and grandmother) and why Marrone decided to break his "promise" (he wanted to get the hell out of dodge before the story fell apart). (Because god forbid Syracuse's football team actually won because of X's and O's.)

For Syracuse fans, these unmaskings WOULD make sense if it happened to us. Again, we prepare and expect the worse - now more than ever.

Manti Te'os, Notre Dames and others fall from grace, for us, that's just something we are used to. We could have seen Te'o's story coming months ago.

The only thing we can say to Notre Dame fans now: Welcome to the club.

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