What’s new with Neuheisel? Putting on a good face for the Pac-12

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Pac-12 photo by Kelley L. Cox/KLCfotos.com
Rick Neuheisel, far right, poses with Mike Yam, Summer Sanders, Glenn Parker, Curtis Conway, Ashley Adamson and Ronnie Lott during the first show on the Pac-12 Network on Wednesday.

Rick Neuheisel was about to hop into a make-up chair at the Pac-12 Network studios in San Francisco this morning when the moment hit him as he looked in the mirror.

“I mean, for God’s sake, what’s happened to me?” the 51-year-old with perpetual beach boy looks said with a laugh. “I’m never going to get used to this. I’m just a pig with spats.”

Last summer, when Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott officially announced that the conference would embark on its own TV network and multi-media venture, Neuheisel was about to start his fourth season as the UCLA head football coach. He could only imagine how this concept would help with things like nationwide exposure and future recruiting.

Before he knew it, Neuheisel was being recruited by the network.

Released by UCLA last November, he was a Pac-12 employee by March. When the network launched Wednesday, he was on the set with Ronnie Lott and Summer Sanders as the new faces and voices of this thing.

So far, not so bad, Neuheisel said.

“I know I’m new at all this, so maybe I’m not the best to judge it, but there wasn’t a fire, and nothing blew up,” Neuheisel summed up the first day of his newest TV career. “I did talk to my sister in Arizona, and she said there were some glitches when maybe the sound went out or something, but I’m sure when you’re starting anything like this, there’ll be growing pains.”
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Another way to look at the Melky-gone-bad factor: Vegas odds shift to Dodgers’ favor

From the numbers provided by the online better service Bovada, the Dodgers’ chances of winning the NL West have improved from 11/10 to 2/3 after the announcement Wednesday that San Francisco’s Melky Cabrera must serve a 50-game suspension for elevated levels of tesosterone.

The Giants, meanwhile, went from the same 11/10 to 5/4.

Bovada sportsbook manager Kevin Bradley adds that the Dodgers’ World Series chances also improved from 14-1 to 9-1, while the Giants went from 12-1 to 15-1.

“Once the news came out about Melky, an instant move by the bettors towards the (Washington) Nationals was made with constant money pouring in on the Nats,” said Bradley, “but a position player can only affect the line so much. We moved about 5 cents from -120 to -125. The next few games will give us a better understanding of how much he really meant to the Giants.”

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Melky’s suspension only makes the NL West more murky

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With the breaking news that the San Francisco Giants’ Melky Cabrera must serve a 50-game MLB suspension for a positive testosterone drug test where he admits guilt, the Dodgers’ chances for winning the NL West can be described as:

== a) Improved far better than they were before Wednesday

== b) No better, no worse

== c) Actually, it puts more pressure on them.

We’d tend to go with the later at this moment.

There’s too many things up in the air to make this any kind of grand momentum change.

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Pac-12 Network has a ‘palpable pregame buzz’ going a day before its launch

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http://www.flickr.com/photos/tuggerdave
More UCLA and USC women’s crew? There’s gotta be a way to see it on the new Pac-12 Network that launches Wednesday.

Take it to the bank: When the spankin’ new, multi-tiered Pac-12 Network flips the switch Wednesday at 6 p.m. from its San Francisco studios, it’ll do more than just print money for its dozen members.

In the sports media business lingo, it’s built to be one of those game-changing moments: A conference takes a calculated leap of faith by running its own TV and Internet platforms, delivering specific athletic events into home-team markets.

Prepare to be dazzled, says commissioner Larry Scott.

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“This is going to be a major change in terms of the national exposure
and recognition our conference gets,” Scott has proclaimed, noting that, for starters, the days of regional football broadcasts on Fox or ABC are “gone.”

“The studio is already busy, the edit rooms are busy, the digital people are busy – there’s a palpable pregame buzz,” said Gary Stevenson, the president of Pac-12 Enterprises, which runs the television networks.

“When Ronnie Lott (one of the networks’ studio analysts) was just here, he said it felt like right before a Super Bowl to him. We’re ready to show the world what we’ve got.”

It’s barely more than a year after Scott officially announced the plan on July 27, 2011 to generate this ground-breaking media business model.

Its foundation is in six regional channels – including one in Los Angeles for USC and UCLA programming. The other five cover Arizona, Oregon, Washington, the Bay Area (Stanford and Cal) and the Mountain regions (Utah and Colorado).

Time Warner Cable, Cox, Comcast and Bright House cable systems are already signed up and have those channels as part of the basic package.

TWC, which has 40 percent of the Southern California cable market covering two million homes, has the L.A. regional on basic cable channel 370.

As in most recent TV network launches, there are some final arm-twisting involved to get everyone on board, usually precipitated by viewer demand and the ability to find space on the channel menu, while the cost-per-subscriber cost is taken into consideration.

DirecTV and Dish Networks, as well as AT&T and Verizon Fios have not yet been able to come to an agreement yet, but representatives of each say discussions are ongoing and something could come soon.

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One last pint of Olympic TV: We won’t get fooled again, right?

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(AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
The Who guitarist Pete Townsend, left, and singer Roger Daltrey perform during the Closing Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics late Sunday night.

By Frazier Moore
Associated Press

Viewers were incensed Sunday night when NBC cut away from the Olympics’ conclusion to air a sitcom featuring a monkey.

During 16 days from London, the sprawl of Olympics coverage was seemingly indomitable, running roughshod through the NBC schedule. Yet Sunday’s package of highlights from the closing ceremony deferred meekly to the preview of a new NBC comedy, “Animal Practice,” which then was followed by a half-hour of local news.

When taped Olympics coverage came to a grinding halt at 11 p.m. Eastern time, viewers were advised that the festivities would resume in one hour.

Accordingly, at midnight Ryan Seacrest greeted viewers who had chosen to stick it out.

“Welcome to the London closing party,” he chirped. “Now it’s time for the big finale.”

That would be a medley pounded out by The Who. Songs included such favorites as “Baba O’Riley” and “My Generation.” After all the build-up, The Who were on hand for just eight minutes.

Olympics host Bob Costas then delivered a rhapsodic postscript before declaring a wrap for NBC’s Olympics coverage at 12:35 a.m. For this, viewers had waited an extra hour on a work night.

And by then, many of them might have been wondering why the ceremony package couldn’t have aired intact, ending conveniently at 11:08 p.m. and only slightly delaying NBC’s monkey business.

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Play It Forward: Aug. 13-19 on your sports calendar

A look at the week ahead in sports, both here and afar:

THIS WEEK’S BEST BET

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Eric Risberg / Associated Press
Beau Hossler hugs his mother Amy Balsz after the third round of the U.S. Open Championship on June 16 at The Olympic Club in San Francisco.

Golf: 112th Men’s U.S. Amateur Championship, Monday through Sunday, om Cherry Hills Village, Colo.:

Gain custody of the Havemeyer Trophy, and there’s an exemption to the British Open, a probable invite to the Masters and, according to protocol, “an exemption from local and sectional qualifying for the next U.S. Open, provided he is still an amateur.” Former UCLA star Patrick Cantlay almost had that a year ago, but lost in the final, then changed his non-amateur status, so he’s not coming back here anytime soon. In his absence, UCLA will have three in this year’s field: Senior Pedro Figueiredo, sophomore Jay Hwang and incoming freshman Lorens Chan. Jeffrey Kang, a 21-year-old playing at USC, also qualified.

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Others with local ties: Tim Hogarth (right), the 46-year-old from Northridge who wno the ’96 U.S. Amateur Public Links title and is one of the most winning amateurs in SCGA history; Brandon Hagy, a 21-year-old from Westlake Village who was second-team All-Pac 12 at Cal last year; Paul Misko of Thousand Oaks, Bobby Holden of Simi Valley, Max Homa of Valencia, Walker Huddy of Studio City and Jeremy Sanders of Chatsworth.

And then there’s Beau Hossler (above), the 17-year-old who had the outright lead at one point in the recent U.S. Open, having earned his way into this event through sectional qualifying and will be entering his senior year at Santa Margarita High in Orange County (so expect more TV shots in the gallery of his mom, Amy); Gary Nicklaus, the 43-year-old son of Jack Nicklaus; Andy Zhang, who at 14 is the youngest in the field; Philip Pleat, who at 56 is the oldest player, and Eli Cole, a 22-year-old out of Beverly Hills who sat out the 2011-2012 season at TCU because of a leg injury.

Funny story: A friend rented out the Rose Bowl for a soccer game, and while Cole was playing goalie, he broke his leg attempting to make a save. He now has a titanium rod — but is not penalized for having too many clubs in his bag when going through a metal detector. More storylines? Go to this link.

After the 18 holes of stroke-play qualifying Monday and Tuesday, the first round of match play begins Wednesday on Golf Channel (1 p.m.), The network also has first-round matches Thursday (3:30 p.m.) and quarterfinal matches Friday (5:30 p.m.), while NBC has the semifinal matches Saturday (1 p.m., Channel 4) and the final match Sunday (1 p.m., Channel 4).

MONDAY

MLB: Dodgers at Pittsburgh, 4:05 p.m., Prime:

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The Dodgers’ pitching staff, meanwhile, must dread looking at Andrew McCutchen’s stats: A major-league best .362 average and .605 slugging percentage, fourth in the NL with 23 homers, and according to Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker, “if you had to pick an MVP right now, it would be (McCutchen). When he raised his average to .373 after the 100th game of the season, it was the highest that a Pirates player’s average had been through 100 games since Hall of Famer Paul Waner was hitting .375 at that point in 1937. The series continues Tuesday (4:05 p.m., Channel 9), Wednesday (4:05 p.m., Channel 9) and Thursday (1:05 p.m., Prime).

MLB: Angels vs. Cleveland, Angel Stadium, 7:05 p.m., FSW:

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The Angels are keen this week about celebrating the 10th anniversary of their 2002 World Series victory, with a week of giveaways that includes a “ring figurine” on Tuesday (7:05 p.m., FSW) and a free poster on Wednesday (7:05 p.m., FSW). As long as they don’t keep giving away victories with an AL wild-card berth at stake. Remember, that’s how they won it all in ’02, from that wild-card entry ticket.

NFL exhibition: Dallas at Oakland, 5 p.m., ESPN:

After Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart get their reps in for the Raiders, Terrell Pryor will make an appearance. The Raiders also have a practice match Saturday at Arizona this week (7 p.m. live, 10 p.m. delayed on NFL Network).

TUESDAY

MLB: Texas at N.Y. Yankees, 4 p.m., MLB Network:

Something for Angels’ followers to monitor. The two teams also show up on ESPN Wednesday (4 p.m.).

WEDNESDAY

MLS: Galaxy at Columbus, 5 p.m., NBC Sports Network:

No one will confuse this with a Super Classico. It’s the Galaxy and Crew’s one and only meeting of the year because of the new unbalanced schedule.

MLB: Washington at San Francisco, 12:45 p.m., MLB Network:

Probable starters: Strasburg vs. Lincecum. Interested now?

THURSDAY

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MLB: Angels vs. Tampa Bay, Angel Stadium, 7:05 p.m., FSW:

A four-game set against the Rays comes just as Evan Longoria is back in the swing of things, having missed 86 games with a slow-healing hamstring, David Price (15-4, 2.50) scheduled to throw in the opener, and crooked-hat-wearing Fernando Rodney, who had 17 saves, 31 holds and 11 blown saves in 111 appearances for the Angels from 2010-’11, anchoring the bullpen with an AL-best 35 saves with only one blown save and a 0.86 ERA in 54 games. Price hasn’t lost to an AL team since May 10 and recorded a 5-0, complete game win over the Angels on April 24. The series continues Friday (7:05 p.m., FSW), Saturday (6:05 p.m., FSW) and Sunday (12:35 p.m., FSW).

66th Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa.: Japan vs. Caribbean, 10 a.m., ESPN; West Regional Champion vs. New England Regional Champion, noon, ESPN; Europe vs. Asia Pacific, 2 p.m., ESPN2; Midwest Regional Champion vs. Southeast Regional Champion, 5 p.m., ESPN:

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Petaluma National from Northern California represents the West this year, and a group of kids from Lugazi in central Uganda will be the first African team to make it into the final group of 16 teams (eight from the U.S., and eight international). A Methodist Church that has made annual missionary trips to Uganda since 2004 introduced baseball to the local school, and the team actually qualified for the trip to Pennsylvania a year ago but had problems with it came to documentation. Uganda opens their play against Panama on Friday, and all 32 games of the event will be on ABC, ESPN or ESPN2 through Sunday, Aug. 26.

FRIDAY

MLB: Dodgers at Atlanta, 4:35 p.m., Prime:

The Braves are also ahead of the Dodgers in the NL wild-card standings coming into this week, with Ben Sheets a recent insertion into their starting rotation. Saturday’s game (4:10 p.m., Prime) is designated as the annual Civil Rights Game. The series ends Sunday (10:35 a.m., Channel 9).

SATURDAY

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Victor R. Caivano/Associated Press
Candace Parker, right, holds up her 3-year-old daughter Lailaa as she celebrates with teammate Sue Bird, left, and the rest of the team their victory over France to win gold in the women’s gold medal basketball game final at the 2012 Summer Olympics.

WNBA: Sparks at Seattle, 7 p.m., KDOC-Channel 56:

The U.S. women’s gold-medal hangover finds Candace Parker on one side now, with Sue Bird and Lauren Jackson reunited on the other.

NFL exhibition: N.Y. Giants at N.Y. Jets, 4 p.m., NFL Network; Dallas at San Diego, 6 p.m., Channel 2:

Did you see the coverage ESPN gave the Jets’ first exhibition game last week? You’d think they’re already in the playoffs.

MLB: Boston at N.Y. Yankees, 1 p.m., Channel 11:

And, at 5 p.m. Sunday on ESPN. You’ve been warned.

SUNDAY

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NFL exhibitions: Indianapolis at Pittsburgh, 5 p.m., Channel 4:

Headline in the Onion Sports last week: “Andrew Luck cut from Colts after overthrowing wide-open receiver.”

NASCAR: Sprint Cup, Michigan 400, Brooklyn, Mich., 10 a.m., ESPN:

Did we mention the things you might otherwise be missing on the Discovery Channel’s “Shark Week” if you’re distracted by this race? There’s the “How ‘Jaws’ Changed the World” documentary, “How Not to Become Shark Bait,” and “Top Five Eaten Alive” survivor stories. Why not airing of the 2011 Bethany Hamilton movie, “Soul Surfer”?

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Weekly media column version 08.10.12


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(AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
Germany’s Julius Brink is covered in sand during the men’s gold medal beach volleyball match against Brazil on Thursday in London.

What’s included in today’s weekly sports media column (linked here):

The beach volleyball action may have titillated viewers over the last two weeks of NBC’s Olympic coverage, but there are no indications that it will lead to anything more of being an annual summer TV event as it was years ago.

What’s not included:

== Heather Cox, the beach volleyball sideline reporter, says he’s almost positive she’ll have a decision made soon about her TV future, with the prime option taking on the role as the new sideliner for ESPN’s Saturday Night college football prime-time game on the Brent Musburger-Kirk Herbstreit team.

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(AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)
U.S. volleyball player Destinee Hooker spins the ball before serving to South Korea during a women’s indoor semifinal match on Thursday.

== Paul Sunderland, calling the indoor volleyball matches, admits that of all the European countries, England is hardly volleyball savvy. Yet, he says, Earl’s Court has “been packed and rocking every day and night.” The facility was used in the 1948 London Games for gymnastics, wrestling, weight lifting and boxing. Volleyball wasn’t introduced as an Olympic sport for men until 1964.

He said the five-set U.S. women’s victory over Russia last week that went more than two hours and aired uninterrupted on NBC’s daytime part “probably set a world record for the longest consecutive stretch of volleyball ever on an American network. People may focus on what’s going on prime time, but MSNBC and NBC Sports Network have really been given a lot of programming from indoor volleyball.”

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A pint of Olympic TV notes: Let’s hug it out

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The Associated Press

Having watched the U.S. women’s football gold-medal victory over Japan, punctuated by Arlo White’s call and Brandi Chastain’s analysis, some more things to kick around as the weekend nears:

== Did Southern California viewership jump at all during Wednesday night’s NBC prime-time Olympic coverage, considering the all-U.S. women’s beach volleyball final (aired between 9 and 10 p.m.), followed by local Allyson Felix running for the 200-meter gold?

Sorry, we don’t have the data we need for that. Yet.

Nationally, NBC reports a 16.8 rating and 28 share, which was 11 percent better than the same night it had in Beijing in 2008 (15.2/26) and 10 percent better than Athens in 2004 (15.3/26).

All we’ve been able to gather is that the L.A. market remains tied for 23rd overall in the 56 metered markets covering the first 13 days of the Olympics, with a 19.8 rating and 36 share. Salt Lake City (26.5/47) remains firm in the No. 1 spot, with San Diego at No. 8 (22.2/39). You’d think there’d at least be some kind of bump in the average, but L.A.’s 12-night rating was also 19.8/36. L.A. had been as low as 26th in the rankings last week.

By region, the Pacific time zone (20.1/38) trails only the Mountain time zone (21.6/38). The bitter viewers in the East are last (18.9/32), saving their power usage for electric-driven fans and recharging their iPhones.

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It’s in the cards: A Scully announcement soon, as well as his own autographed cardboard for your bike spokes

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It’s been about this time of year for the last couple of seasons when Vin Scully makes his announcement — whether it be in a casual press-box gathering, a between-innings TV game reference while munching on cookies, or something he has to do as the result of an L.A. Times writer writing a panicked column, leaving the Hall of Fame broadcaster to clean up their mess.

Will Scully come back for another season doing Dodgers games? It would be fitting, perhaps, that he waits to make it official until when his a one-of-a-kind bobblehead is given out on Aug. 30.

Until then, contemplate another new Scully novelty: A baseball card.

One hundred Scully-signed baseball cards will be included in an upcoming Panini 2012 Cooperstown Baseball set, according to the company website.

Panini announced it had received the cards signed by the Dodgers’ Hall of Fame broadcaster this week (linked here), noting that he has “never before appeared on a certified autographed baseball card — until now.”

Scully-signed photos, balls and jerseys have only recently been made available for public sale through Art of the Game (linked here), with kiosks at Dodger Stadium and Staples Center. Jerseys sell for as much as $1,250 with balls going for $399.

(We saw Scully sign a ball for a kid once and deliver this caviat: “You know, that autograph really isn’t worth much today. And if you hang onto it a few more years, it’ll be worth even less.”)

The Panini Group, an Italian-based collectibles company, bought Donruss trading cards in 2009 and has started specialized series in the U.S. with the NBA and NHL. It announced recently an exclusive agreement with the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant for his own set of cards.

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A pint of Olympic TV notes: Ebersol blows Olympic smoke rings again defending the NBC game plan (warning: believing your own B.S. may be hazardous to your wealth)

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While waiting for the start of the women’s beach volleyball all-U.S. gold-medal match to begin (online) and hearing Dan Patrick just advertise the start of the women’s beach volleyball China-Brazil bronze-medal match coming up “live” at the top of the hour on Channel 4 (horribly delayed) with another mind-numbing Jimmy Roberts feature:

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== Dick Ebersol speaks. Because he needs to exhale.

Not that we particularly care to hear from the deposed head of the NBC Sports Olympic movement, who is now in London only in an “advisory” position.. Except that he tells Joe Posnanski on the new site SportsOnEarthblog.com (linked here) — in what he says will be his only interview during the two-week Games — that criticism (again) about tape-delayed coverage versus what you can find live online is “just nonsense”:

“People talk about how we should treat this like sports? You know, we’re getting an 18 rating some nights. Do you know what rating we would get if this was not under the banner of the Olympics? We’d be lucky to get a 1 rating for some of these sports. … This is our business model. The newspaper people have their own business model. We’re in the television business. We’re here to make great television. …

“It amazes me that we are still talking about this. If someone wants to watch the Olympics live, they can do that online. That’s a very small percentage of people. We’ve done study after study where we ask people when they want to watch the Olympics. They say ‘after dinner.’ Every study, I’ve never seen it less than 80 percent, and it’s usually a lot higher than that.

“People want the Olympic experience, to gather around their television, to be told the story of the Olympics. I think we’ve taken my mentor Roone’s model, and we’ve improved it.”

Those were not quotes lifted from 1992, but they might as well have been.

It leads us to this story in Onion Sports with the headline: “Study: Pretending Everything’s Okay Works” (linked here).

== Meanwhile, SportsOnEarth contributor Will Leitch admits he’s cheating (linked here). And from Deadspin.com: “Even U.S. troops ‘screwed’ by tape delay NBC” (linked here) comes from a story on Stars and Stripes (linked here) pointing out how the Armed Forces Network is tape-delaying all Olympic coverage to 365,000 military and family members in Europe, Southwest Asia and North Africa.

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

== The downlow on Lolo’s “Today” show meltdown:

Lolo Jones goes on NBC’s Olympic rah-rah morning show and admits a story in the New York Times about her marketability has brought her to tears:

“It was crazy just because it was two days before I competed, and then the fact it was from a U.S. media (outlet). They should be supporting our U.S. Olympic athletes and instead they just ripped me to shreds. … The fact that they just tore me apart was just heartbreaking. They didn’t even do their research. They called me the ‘Anna Kournikova of track.’ I am the American record-holder indoors. I have two world indoor titles, and just because I don’t boast about these things, I don’t think I should be ripped apart by media. I laid it out there. I fought hard for my country and it’s just a shame I have to deal with so much backlash when I’m already so brokenhearted as it is.”

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Athletes who believe the U.S. media “should be supporting” U.S. competitors are part of the confused issue here. The New York Times isn’t Oxygen For Women magazine.

And putting herself out there as she has done now may backfire.

NBC promoteth, and then helps bring down an athlete just as much as any other “media” in Lolo’s world.

As the Sports Business Daily notes, Memphis Commercial Appeal writer Geoff Calkins wondered: “I suppose the tears, too, were conjured? Maybe those were part of the marketing plan.”

== Best tweet of the day that we’ve found: @DanLevyThinks:

I’m going to start covering my body in brightly colored tape so my words feel more Olympic.

Don’t forget the bright yellow Nike shoes.

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