On Wednesday, Te'o's inspiring, playing-through-heartache story was exposed as a bizarre lie in an article on Deadspin's website.
Te'o and Notre Dame faced questions from sports writers and fans about whether he really was duped, as he claimed, or whether he and the university were complicit in the hoax and misled the public, perhaps to improve his chances of winning the Heisman.
Te'o and Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick said the player was drawn into a virtual romance with a woman who used the phony name Lennay Kekua, and was fooled into believing she died of leukemia in September.
They said his only contact with the woman was via the Internet and telephone.
Te'o also lost his grandmother - for real - the same day his girlfriend supposedly died, and his role in leading Notre Dame to its best season in decades endeared him to fans and put him at the center of college football's biggest feel-good story of the year.
The new internet trend follows runaway trends such as "Tebowing," "Eastwooding," and "planking."