During a press conference Wednesday evening, Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick likened the alleged hoax perpetrated by at least two individuals on Manti Te'o to the plot of Catfish, a current MTV show based on a documentary released in 2010.So what is "catfishing," the term Swarbrick used to describe what happened to Te'o in his relationship with Lennay Kekua?
In short, it's the process of developing a fake online persona with the express purpose of deceiving a love-struck significant other. (To what end, especially with Te'o, remains unclear.) In Te'o's case, the people behind Lennay Kekua were participating in "catfishing."
"To think about the definition of 'Catfish,' it's really anybody that is willing to take a risk, push the envelope, leave their comfort zone. The people who reach out to me are in many ways Catfish because they're looking to take a chance, take a risk, and then there's always a chance the other person we haven't met could also be doing the same thing. [They] might not be being totally honest: We don't know until we get there and we find out."
Schulman also announced on his Twitter account Wednesday night that he would be looking into Te'o's specific case. "I am working on finding out more about this @MTeo_5 #Catfish story," Schulman tweeted. "I have been in contact with the woman involved and will get the truth." Yes, the host of the show Catfish is on the case.
Swarbrick believes Te'o to be a victim. If true, what happened to Notre Dame's star linebacker is the stuff of movies (and television).