- Matt Fortuna, ESPN Staff Writer
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The timeline of events that have become public in the two weeks since it was revealed that Manti Te'o's dead girlfriend never actually existed align with everything Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly knew about his star linebacker's situation.
Speaking with reporters on a conference call Tuesday morning for the first time since the Fighting Irish's Jan. 7 loss to Alabama, Kelly defended Te'o and said he did not notice a difference in the senior leading up to the Discover BCS National Championship.
"I didn't sense it, really," Kelly said. "Manti's a young man that continues to lead, and you don't really see him, because obviously he went through a tough time during the year and we didn't really see anything there that would've set off an alarm that he was under so much pressure concerning the situation. I just didn't see it as we practiced leading into the game."
Te'o, one of two captains of a defense that entered the title game as the nation's No. 1 scoring unit, missed a number of tackles in an uncharacteristic performance that saw the Crimson Tide pile up 529 yards of offense in a 42-14 win.
Kelly acknowledged Te'o wasn't at the top his game against Alabama.
"Hindsight is 20/20. I didn't think going into the game that he was affected by it. But he didn't play his best. Alabama had something to do with that as well, clearly. But I really don't know. It's a lot to weigh on the shoulders of somebody. I think we could make a leap that maybe it did, but I think Manti would know for sure."
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