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The sports world suffered a twitter-breaking case of shock and awe today with Deadspin’s piece detailing what appears to be the phony story concocted about the late girlfriend of Notre Dame star linebacker Manti Te’o.  While the American public and the media sure felt duped, one of Te’o’s teammates wasn’t surprised, telling PepperOnSports.com that the players on the Fighting Irish football team smelled something fishy back in September 2012. 

The Notre Dame football player, who asked for anonymity, told Pepper On Sports, “No we all knew he had only seen her once.  But when the media was saying how he went through both deaths we knew,”  said the source, referring to the back-to-back deaths of Te’o’s grandmother and girlfriend Lennay Kekua, who allegedly died of Leukemia. 

In defense of the Heisman Trophy candidate, the source said he believes the lie may have indeed started with somebody duping Te’o using a phony twitter account, and eventually, faking their own death.

Early in my conversation with the source, the Notre Dame player said, “He lied, but the media blew it up.”  In response to my follow-up question asking if the source thought that Te’o kept the story going because of the media attention, the player replied, “Yeah.  Right after the Michigan [State] game.  He should have never brought her in the media. His grandma passing was enough.” 

Notre Dame’s victory over Michigan State and subsequent media explosion appears to have been the turning point for the source and many of his teammates. 

The source said while the players discussed their suspicions amongst themselves, they never confronted Te’o.

“We would never bring it up.  But we would look at him when he would get all emotional during media about his girl,” the player said.

When asked if he thought Te’o was a good actor, the player replied, “Very good.”  

The most entertaining part of the first half of the SEC Championship Game between Georgia and LSU didn’t involve wasn’t the Honey Badger’s non-touchdown touchdown, but instead, a yucky “cry-face” on live television. 

The culprit?  Ivon Rodriguez-Padilla, winner of the Dr. Pepper Tuition Throw challenge during halftime of a 10-7 game led by UGA at the Georgia Dome.

Rodriguez-Padilla threw for significantly more yards than LSU in the first half as she and Katelyn Watson battled for $100,000 towards college tuition by throwing footballs five yards into specially made Dr. Pepper cans placed in the endzone. 

Padilla-Rodriguez, a freshman at the University of Nevada, Reno threw 13 balls into the cans in 30 seconds while Watson came up short with 10. 

As soon as the buzzer sounded and Padilla-Rodriguez, from Las Vegas, realized she had won the competition, she burst into the crazy cry-face above and the waterworks were at flood level!  It was AMAZING.

You would think that blubbering all over national TV would be embarrassing enough, but Rodriguez-Padilla outdid herself with her response to CBS reporter Tracy Wolfson’s question, asking her how much the money meant to her.  Rodriguez-Padilla replied, while still sobbing, “this is so important to me [puts hand over mouth]… Dr Pepper is seriously the best thing that has ever happened to me!!!”

This moment was an all-time classic.  I bet Saturday Night Live will spoof it.  I think it rivals Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction.  Yes Rodriguez-Padilla’s wild reaction was funny, sending my twitter timeline into a tizzy, but in reality, that young lady had every reason to cry tears of joy.

Between the black hole that is the U.S. economy and the way student loans are absolutely decimating peoples’ finances after college, winning this money probably IS the best thing that has ever happened to Rodriguez-Padilla.  Without knowing what her financial situation is, the money must mean a lot as she took the opportunity seriously. 

"Well I practiced just about every day at Mackay Stadium which is my university stadium with a bunch of stacked trash cans and I had our starting quarterback Cody Fajardo help me out," Rodriguez-Padilla told Wolfson before the contest started.  "And i had a friend who is an aspiring engineer come up with  my technique."

How cool is that?  The Wolf Pack quarterback helped this girl train for the contest.  Love it.

According to an article on the University of Nevada, Reno website, the 18-year-old feels that Wolf Pack athletics brings the school community together and helps to relieve stress among students.  Rodriguez-Padilla said she was honored to have the chance to lessen her family’s financial burden by participating in the promotion.

On the school’s website, UNR student Tiffany Moore wrote that Rodriguez-Padilla hopes to use the money to, “pursue her majors in English and history, as well as her minor in the philosophy of law, ethics and politics. After graduation, she wants to attend law school and become a lawyer.  ‘One day, I hope to become a federal judge and ultimately, a Supreme Court Justice,’ she said.”

Rodriguez-Padilla sounds like a very motivated young lady, and good for her for working hard for that money.  Don’t feel too bad for the runner up as Watson took home $23k for finishing second. 

I give Rodriguez-Padilla’s enthusiasm and overall awesomeness credit for turning the SEC Championship game around.  That halftime spot really got the ball rolling and she might just be the Tigers’ new good luck charm.  I think LSU should offer Rodriguez-Padilla a sideline pass for the BCS Championship game.  If they did, one can only imagine what her reaction would be. 

To watch how the Dr. Pepper Tuition Throw went down, click here for the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NfS7bVBCRLw