So, if you read yesterday’s post, you know I’ve spent the past few weeks working on a pathfinder assignment for one of my library school classes. You also know that I’m indecisive, and changed my topic a BUNCH of times.
What you may not know is that one of the topics I considered for this project was Manti Te’o. You see, I happened to attend Notre Dame as an undergrad, and I’m just a tad bit proud of my alma mater right now. In case you are not a college football fan, Notre Dame had an undefeated regular season and, one month from today, will be playing for the national championship against Alabama.
My competitive nature lends itself well to winning football seasons, but in the decade since I enrolled at Notre Dame, we haven’t had particularly impressive football teams. However, I’m also proud of the fact that Notre Dame has high academic standards for all students, including athletes; Notre Dame has led the pack in terms of athlete graduation rates for a number of years, and this year is the first time that a team has been ranked number one in both football and in graduation rates. I also like that Notre Dame students generally want to do something good in the world; people care about things at Notre Dame, and demonstrate this through their actions both during college and after.
Manti Te’o, of all the athletes I’ve watched since I started paying attention to college sports, is truly the epitome of a Notre Dame student. He’s a great football player, sure; but he’s also a strong student and a caring, empathetic person. He thinks before he speaks, doesn’t disparage others, and goes out of his way to do kind things for others. So I thought that, since Te’o embodies all of the good things for which Notre Dame stands, I’d put together a little unofficial Manti Te’o pathfinder for all you curious readers (and any undecided Heisman voters who may have stumbled across this post).
Well, first of all, you may be wondering just who Manti Te’o is. You can check out his Notre Dame profile for statistics and a little background information. This article, from the Notre Dame student newspaper, The Observer, provides a nice profile of Te’o as a student athlete. Also, earlier this season, Te’o graced the cover of Sports Illustrated; the article in that issue, “The Full Manti”, details important events in the course of Te’o’s recent life and football career (SU students can access the article here; others will need to find a copy of the magazine).
That’s a lot of text, and there’s more to come, so let’s take a video break:
Manti Te’o is an excellent football player; this season, he had 103 tackles and 7 interceptions, his presence on the field during goal-line stands against Stanford and USC was instrumental in securing victories during those games, and he played an integral part in victories over Michigan, Michigan State, and Oklahoma as well. But Te’o’s presence is important not only because he is good at football; these articles illustrate how Te’o leads by example and is the heart of the Notre Dame football team. A student who interviewed him extolls his virtues off the field, and concludes in her article that he is “one of them,” a regular student. He takes time out of his busy schedule to comfort a family going through a difficult time, even in the wake of his own grief.
Te’o has a history of inviting fellow students into his dorm room for impromptu conversations, posing for pictures with young superfans, taking a fan he’s mentored out to eat every time he returns to Hawaii, emailing grieving parents, jumping into the student section to celebrate football victories, and turning down millions of dollars to return to Notre Dame and have Senior Day with his family. Is it any wonder that people wanted to make sure he got the sendoff he deserved, the public address announcer from Notre Dame Stadium wrote him a personal farewell, and Notre Dame fans everywhere are clamoring for him to win the Heisman?
To be fair, Te’o doesn’t really need another trophy. He’s already picked up the ARA Sportsmanship Award, the Walter Camp Award, the Butkus Award, the Lombardi Award, the Maxwell Award, the Nagurski Award, and the Bednarik Award, setting a record for most postseason awards won. Oh, he’s also been named a national scholar-athlete. No big deal.
But the Heisman is the biggest of them all. And for those of you who do not know, the first sentence of the Heisman Trust Mission Statement reads: “The Heisman Memorial Trophy annually recognizes the outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity.” Manti Te’o is an outstanding football player, on the best football team in the country, and, given all you now know about Te’o, there is no way you can question his excellence or his integrity. So you would be right in believing that Te’o is the most deserving Heisman candidate. And, in fact, you would not be alone in that belief. You see, there are others who think Te’o best fits the Heisman ideal, and that his statistics are more impressive that Johnny Manziel’s, and that he embodies all things Heisman, and that his performance, team results, and integrity put him ahead of Manziel, and that he flat out deserves the award. There’s a website devoted to this pursuit. And a video:
In his four seasons at Notre Dame, Manti Te’o has made an indelible impression on the hearts and minds of students, alumni, and fans throughout the country. He is humble, empathetic, hardworking, intelligent, and an excellent athlete. Aside from a national championship and the degree he will receive in December, the Heisman trophy would be the crowning achievement of his college football career. There is no doubt in my mind that Te’o should win the Heisman, as he is outstanding both on and off the football field.
I hope that this unofficial guide to Manti Te’o has provided you with sufficient information on the country’s best student athlete, and shown you why Te’o embodies the spirit of Notre Dame, and has had such an incredible impact on the university and college football communities. If not, here is one last video to illustrate my point:
#HeIsManti. Go Irish.