published Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

5-at-10: Gruden rumors, Fab 4 picks, college hoops dude scores 138 and Thanksgiving requests

Remember your mailbag entries and to pace yourself over this extended holiday weekend.

From the "Talks too much" studios, away we go.

Gruden-mania, Day III

The level of Jon Gruden-hype from Johnny Vols Fans everywhere has taken on a life of its own. Seriously.

We've had no fewer than three people tell us point blank, "It's a done deal," and before you even think, "Well, where there's smoke, there's fire," we want to remind you about Cam Newton. No, where there's smoke there's smoke, and in coaching searches, where there's smoke there's usually a few smoke screens, too.

Here's what we know:

Gruden is obviously — OBVIOUSLY — choice No. 1. In fact, he's choice Nos. 1, 2, 3, 5 through 8, and all of the even numbers beyond that.

We know the UT athletic department is going to get some financial help from the university during the next thee years. The Vols athletics department routinely donates $6 million annually back to the school, but the school has allowed athletics to skip that pledge for the next three years. With buyouts and new contracts coming, an extra $18 million will be most useful.

Of the 10 or more former UT players, either the 5-at-10 or someone on our staff has spoken with, Gruden is respected. But Charlie Strong is far and away the preferred pick of the former players because of his familiarity with the SEC and recruiting. Just thought that was interesting.

Here's what we think:

No matter how many folks say it, believe it, or even want to believe it, Gruden is not a done deal until it's a done deal. The rumors of staff assembly and such are just that — rumors. When there is a story this coveted, if there was something truly solid it would be out there. Period. There are too many folks fighting for this one.

The Tennessee fan base has turned Gruden into a combo of the Loch Ness Coach, Coach Chuckie Norris, and Tampa Tim Tebow. Seriously, if the Vols announced they were in talks with Bill Belichick, there are some Johnny Vols Fans that would be bemoaning how Gruden was the one.

Do not sleep on Strong, Jimbo Fisher or even Bob Stoops. Seriously.

There will be no announcement this week. If Gruden really is the next UT coach, we would expect the announcement sometime next week in an effort to steal some thunder from two of the Vols' biggest rivals facing off in the SEC title game and a likely BCS semifinal.

————

Fab 4 (plus 1) picks

Since Thursday is Thanksgiving, we're trotting out our picks a day early. Consider it a holiday treat, like pumpkin pie or college hoops on in the afternoon. It's pretty much a win-win.

That said, we've had our fair share of success picking games this fall. We're 42-18-2 against the spread this year, and even though these picks are for entertainment purposes only, if you had put 100 entertainment dollars on each pick, you'd be up 2,200 entertainment dollars. That's some high-priced entertainment.

We try to separate the picks from the passion, and last week, making early picks cost us a couple of wins — case in point we had Oklahoma as a pick last week, and while we liked the Sooners, as Saturday approached, we liked Oklahoma State over Texas Tech more. so it goes. We say this as a caution that if the Alabama-Auburn line gets under 28 (it's currently right around 31), we'd advise taking the Tide and laying the points.

Here's this week's Fab 4 (plus 1) — and yes, we know there's only three here, but we're rushed and making them a day early is tough:

Mississippi State plus 2 at Ole Miss: Not sure how the Bulldogs are the underdog here, and that sends off warning bells. And as strong as the signs are of this being a "Lines that are too good to be true usually are" we like MSU and we really like MSU quarterback Tyler Russell.

Utah State minus-38 against Idaho: Sometimes you have to ride the hot hand, and there is no hotter hand in betting circles than the Utah State Aggies, who are 11-0 against the spread. And yes, 38 is a bucket-load of points, but Idaho is 1-10 overall and 2-9 against the spread, and one of those covers was on a field goal on the final play of a 52-13 loss when the Vandals were getting 40 points.

LSU minus-12 at Arkansas: The Tigers have something still left to play for — a 10-win season and a potential trip to the Sugar Bowl. The Hogs are cooked and were waxed against Mississippi State last week. The only two games the Hogs have covered this year were against SEC dregs Auburn and Kentucky. That seems like a bad sign, no?

More to come... (Updated Friday night)

Virginia at Virginia Tech under the 49: Virginia Tech is this year's Clemson. Last year, the Fab 4 picks finished 58-30-2 picking games against the spread, and we were 1-8-1 in picking games involving Clemson. Some might say that we should have stopped picking games involving Clemson, but never let anyone tell you that just because you're stubborn does not mean you're not willing to be be occasionally bull-headed too. Anyhoo, Virginia Tech is this year's Clemson and we're 0-4 in games involving Virginia Tech this year (had them covering against Georgia Tech, Miami and BC and had FSU over the Hokies). So it goes. We actually like Virginia getting 10.5 here, too.



South Carolina at Clemson under the 61: Speaking of Clemson, last year's prodigal Tigers have been a blessing this fall. We're 4-0 picking games involving Clemson, and our preference on the under here is based primarily on our college football ace David Paschall, who told us that going over that number would be historic in this rivalry. We countered with the fact that Clemson has scored less than 37 points once, and that was in the season-opener against Auburn without the receiver you know better as Joe the Policemen from the What's Going Down episode of "That's My Mama" Mr. Sammie Watkins. Paschall countered that the Tigers' lowest scoring game was against the worst team in the SEC. South Carolina is far from the worst team in the SEC and is the best team (and defense Clemson has played).

Bonus picks: We like Miami (minus 6 at Duke) and Ohio State (minus 4 against Michigan) on Saturday. The Hurricanes and the Buckeyes will end their seasons this weekend because of NCAA violations and will not be able to go to the postseason. We expect inspired efforts from each team.

————

College hoops record-breaker

At tiny Grinnell College, a Division III school in Iowa, the basketball is about offense. Forget Norman Dale's four passes before a shot, the Pioneers' up-Up-UP-tempo style has produce the two most recent individual single-game scoring records, including Grinnell's Griffin Lentsch scoring 89 last year.

Well, 89 was little more than a twinkle in Jack Taylor's eye Tuesday night. Taylor smashed just about every scoring record anywhere with 138 points in Grinnell's 179-104 drubbing of Faith Baptist Bible.

Here are some mind-bending numbers from Tuesday:

— Grinnell's hyper-frenic style forces mass substitutions; normally no Pioneers player gets more than 20 minutes. In fact 20 players saw the floor Tuesday, but Taylor played 36 minutes — the same number Lentsch played when setting the record last year. Side note: Lentsch scored seven points Tuesday. Off the bench. So yes, the Division III single-game record holder for scoring doesn't start for Grinnell.

— Grinnell had 63 points off 49 turnovers and allowed FBB to shoot 61 percent (50-of-82).

— No Grinnell player attempted more than six shots; Taylor was 52-of-108 from the floor, 27-of-71 from 3, and 7-of-10 from the foul line. Taylor had as many assists as you and the 5-at-10 did — bagel — and in 36 minutes averaged three shots a minute. Sweet buckets of IcyHot, that makes your elbow sore even thinking about it.

— Completely lost in the shuffle was an incredible night for FBB's David Larson, who scored 70 points on 34-of-44 shooting.

— Taylor is now averaging a tasty 61.7 points per game for Grinnell (3-0).

————

This and that

— In a tradition that is roughly 150 years old, President Obama is going to pardon two turkeys this Thanksgiving. Ingrid Newkirk, the president of the People of Ethical Treatment of Animals, is opposing the move. Buckle up. Here's what Newkirk wrote: "It makes light of the mass slaughter of some 46 million gentle, intelligent birds and portrays the United States' president as being in some sort of business partnership with the turkey-killing industry," Newkirk wrote in a letter sent to President Obama. "Turkeys do not need to be 'pardoned'-they are not guilty of anything other than being born into a world of prejudice. They are innocents who should be respected for who they are: good mothers, smart birds, and interesting animals. You understand so well that African-Americans, women, and members of the LGBT community have been poorly served throughout history, and now I am asking you to consider other living beings who are ridiculed, belittled, and treated as if their sentience, feelings, and very natures count for nothing."

Ingrid, shut your pie hole, enjoy all the Tofurkey you can stand and move along. Sweet buckets of wasted energy, we got kids hungry in the streets and we have huge organizations spending millions to compare a bird's struggles to the plights and fights for equality among human beings and worried for a turkey's feelings. Our head may pop.

— OK, Thanksgiving is a monster meal, there's no doubt. But here are some eye-popping numbers: Most Americans will consume roughly 3,000 calories on Thursday. For a normal-sized person to burn off that many calories, they'd need to run a marathon. And then run three more miles. Pass the gravy.

— UTC lost 71-63 to La. Tech on Tuesday to drop the Mocs' record to 1-4. From what our ace columnist Mark Wiedmer says here, there were plenty of good seats available. And, yes, StuckinKent, we know it's the holidays and all the other rationalizations and reasons, but crowds in the hundreds scream apathy. And we contend there is no emotion more damning in college sports than apathy.

— Congrats to the NFL for making the right call and lifting Ed Reed's suspension. It was the right call and it shows the NFL may be learning from its heavy-handed mistakes in the Bounty-Gate stuff.

— Congrats to Davis Tull, the UTC defensive end who was named SoCon defensive player of the year.

————

Today's question

This one was to be expected.

Since tomorrow is the big turkey day and all, and since we'll have a short 5-at-10 and not that many folks will swing by, let's do our traditional, "What are you thankful for...?" today.

Here's the twist, though. Since this is a family-oriented, interweb-based sports column, it has to be sports related. And since, this is the day before the Thanksgiving Thursday that is before Black Friday that precedes Small-shop Saturday and Cyber Monday, let's give this a Wacky Wise-acorn Wistful Wednesday spin.

We'll start:

"We're thankful that despite the dumpster fire that is Auburn football that Jordan-Hare was still 90-percent full last week on senior day. Classy way to end."

That said, beyond our great family and friends, and the chance to live in this great country, we have a lot more to be thnakful for, and here are two of them:

We're thankful to all of you folks who make this fun to do;

We're also thankful that Ingrid Newkirk will have nothing to do with our Thanksgiving feast. Pass the turkey and enjoy the day.

Discuss.

about Jay Greeson...

Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...

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Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.
orangeguy said...

Ooooh! Announcing Gruden as head coach the day before the SEC title tilt which features 2 of UT's top rivals? Sign me up. However, "done deal" is usually the kiss of death with Gruden rumors. He was a done deal to Miami just a couple years ago. Still feel like Strong's eventually the guy.

I'm thankful that even though UT got crushed at Vandy, we've had big, exciting news every day since. Even if Gruden doesn't work out, Dooley's gone & the day dreaming about Chucky has given some hope to a hopeless fan base... Not to mention Cheek finally getting a clue.

November 21, 2012 at 10:30 a.m.
JonathanMCook said...

Jay,

I am thankful for what Russ has brought to the program with another successful year and now that he has "trailerload after trailerload" of experienced players, maybe we can start winning some championships.

I'm also thankful for the forum of the 5 at 10 as it gives me the opportunity to have a typed-out discussion with people that can actually explain their sports-related position on anything and no one tries to railroad the other.

Moving on..

To the tune of Adam Sandler's "Lunch Lady" song: Sloppy Mocs! Sloppy, Sloppy Mocs! Sloppy Mocs! Sloppy, Sloppy Mocs!

The only true highlight was hearing JR on the streaming video say "The referees have completely lost control of the ballgame!" (literally thought he was fix'n to melt down).

Say all the reasons presented in Mark's well-written column, apathy is HEAV-EE in Mocland. I do find it refreshing that the Lady Mocs are actually outpacing the men in attendance but to counterpoint StuckinKent as well, I've been following Mocs basketball on and off since 1994-95 (my freshmen year at UTC). Even during holiday breaks, the Roundhouse always, ALWAYS averaged eight to nine thousand a game regardless of the team being played. To say this is not a rebuilding year is an understatement. Even if John was able to get them to jell by conference time, no one is going to venture out to the Roundhouse when they read about one mounting loss after another. Heck, it's taken Russ four years to bring the football program up to something "resembling" a healthy following.

Only in America can an organization like PETA even exist. 'nuff said.

If it weren't for the Internet, I wouldn't know anything about the campaign for Gruden. Simply because here, it's ALL Cowboys, ALL the time (excluding Fridays for HS football and Saturdays for college). I like me some Cowboy football down here, but overkill is the word of the day.

Which means I'm also Thankful for both SportTalk and timesfreepress.com because they actually "spread it out a little"

Chattanooga media: 20% Vols (flucuites) 20% Bama, 20% Georgia, 20% Mocs, 20% Other SEC news.

Dallas media: 100% Cowboys Sunday through Thursday.

November 21, 2012 at 10:57 a.m.
biff_loman said...

I would be thankful if John Shulman was out of a job.

November 21, 2012 at 11:17 a.m.
chas9 said...

Boxer Hector "Macho" Camacho took a shot to the jaw yesterday that could paralyze him. Literally, he took a shot to the jaw, and is hospitalized, but expected to survive.

So did the Grinnell coach scorch the team at halftime and after the game with: "Dagnabittt! You can NEVER let the other team shoot 61%, you miserable scum suckers. Now run the stadium steps until you drop." I know Coach Cal wouldn't stand for it.

Has anybody seen a shot chart? Any lay-ups do you think? And was it 20 Grinnell players, or 20 both teams?

So Larson gets 70 points shooting 77% while Taylor shoots a paltry 48%, and nobody will remember Larson. Don't hardly seem fair.

November 21, 2012 at 11:19 a.m.
BIspy4 said...

One thing turkeys ain't is intelligent. Apparently, neither is Ms. Newkirk. Maybe she needs to round up Lebeau and Kinch and go blow up another ammo dump while Klink is on a date with Burkhalter's sister.

How'd you like to be Faith Bible Baptist's leading scorer today? Your team put up 104 in a game ... and still got outscored by one dude?

November 21, 2012 at 11:25 a.m.
jgreeson said...

OrangeGuy —

Excellent spinning optimistic thankfulness. We too are thankful Dooley is no more, because the hopelessness that had consumed Johnny Vols Fans everywhere was starting to become apathy. And that's no fun for anyone.

And yes, if Gruden's a done deal, here's how we'd play it to get the most bang for the buck: Leak it that Gruden was going to be in Atlanta on Friday for the SEC title game. Have a slew of young go-getters like Homer J. Simpson try to track him down (even though the leak hints that he'd be at Jock's and Jill's downtown from 4-4:15, let those "can't comment on anything until it's official" stories trickle in Saturday and then announce Saturday there will be a SUnday news conference.

So across the South — and even in Atlanta — you get Gruden and UT stories Saturday, Sunday and blowout Monday overlapping the SEC championship and one of your rivals heading to the BCS.

JMC —

Sloppy Mocs.... that's good stuff.

And thanks for the kind words.

And great point — we're thankful to be in a country where Ingrid Whosherpants has the chance to be a pain in the neck.

— 5-at-10

November 21, 2012 at 11:28 a.m.
jgreeson said...

Biff —

Zinger. Well-played indeed.

9er —

Have not seen a shot chart, but that's 19 Grinnell players rotating around Shooter.

No doubt. It's the one-game version of 1941 in the American League: Teddy Ballgame hits .406 and the big story was Joltin' Joe's 56-game hitting streak.

Spy —

We know nothing. Nothing.

And hey, FBB coach, ever hear of a box-and-one or even a triangle-and-two? C'mon.

— 5-at-10

November 21, 2012 at 11:35 a.m.
BIspy4 said...

c'mon, 5, you know Gruden won't be at Jocks n Jills, not the one downtown or the one at Galleria. Now, Hooters at Cumberland, there he might be. Or Hooters Kennesaw.

November 21, 2012 at 11:48 a.m.
JonathanMCook said...

I love Jocks -n- Jills. The one on Piedmont is my personal favorite. The downtown one is too small for my tastes.

When I was younger, I always wanted for them to open a franchise restaurant in Chattanooga (top heavy decor with Mocs and Lookouts decor with a splattering of Vols and Titans) but unlike Mellow Mushroom, they have yet to escape the A-T-L. BTW, D-F-W just got two new 'Rooms. One in Southlake (DFW to CHAT translation: Ooltawah in five years or less) and one in Firsco near Stonebriar Mall (Hamilton Place on steriods). Not a Krystal, but a taste of home is a taste of home. :D

November 21, 2012 at 12:01 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Spy —

Thanks for cleaning up your locales. It's a F-O-I-B sports column after all.

JMC —

The taste of home that used to be the Krystal is now the taste of the A-T-L since they packed up their onions and hauled their buns south.

— 5-at-10

November 21, 2012 at 12:07 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

I just have never been all that impressed with Gruden as a coach. I wonder if his done deal with UT includes a supply of wings, grilled big fish sandwiches and Key lime pie.

November 21, 2012 at 12:32 p.m.
chas9 said...

I am thankful for Weeds. Yeah, really. And thankful that The TFP sports editor allows him the ink and paper to display a major column containing his projected SEC Roundball Superlatives, even in early November when almost nobody cares.

It's hard to argue much with Mark's musings. He knows his stuff. But here are a few supplementary thoughts.

Mark rightly calls KY's frontline of Noel, Cauley-Stein and Wiltjer the SEC's best, but come March I bet Poythress will be in the top three bigs in PT and contributions.

It's right to give Pressey a spotlight (best newcomer) since he's a veteran, but in the end the conference POY will likely be dressed in Big Blue.

Mark says Goodwin will be UK's MKG-style Energizer bunny this season, and he'll be great. In fact, I expect him to outscore B.J. Young, whom Weeds picks for top SEC scorer. But Noel may be the player who best exemplifies hustle that inspires the team to play hard.

Mark (on November 4) gave Nerlens his due, but at that point he hadn't seen The Big Fade dive for loose balls, as he is showing he will do. It's not easy for a 6'10" aircraft carrier to do that. Do you remember Jabbar getting a lot of floor burns?

So far, NN hits the hardwood as often as any Wildcat, and he is getting a lot of steals, too. Put these crowd-pleasers together with his well-known shot blocking, and he'll be fun to watch as he fires up the champs.

November 21, 2012 at 12:36 p.m.
JonathanMCook said...

Yes Jay, I read all about that. That was more sad then the day they decided to close down one by one all five Krystals in the DFW area. Yet somehow, the literally "tasteless" burgers and fries that is "In -N- Out" are thriving down here. I'll stick with Whataburger thank you.

Now back to regularly scheduled topic already in progress.

November 21, 2012 at 12:39 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Here are some Thankfuls:

We're thankful that Chipper exited on his terms.

We're thankful we got to see Jeter play in Yankee Stadium this year. (And Big Papi hit a homer there, Spy.)

We're thankful that the Final Four will be in the A-T-L this year. May try to take our Pop, who is a college hoops nut.

November 21, 2012 at 12:47 p.m.
Todd962 said...

I am thankful for the fact that Gruden-mania will soon be over, one way or another. The story I heard last night out of Nashville was Gruden was getting a 10 year, $60 million contract, with a clause that he could bring Peyton "The Sheriff" Manning in as a OC after his Broncos contract ran out. I am also thankful for the abuse of smelling salts with the person that thought that one up.

Gruden is becoming William Wallace pretty quickly. Consuming the SEC East with fireballs from his eyes and lightning bolts from his arse. Yeah, I am sure he will be better than what we have had in the past few years, but what are us as Tennessee fans going to do if we do get him and dont immediately start rolling off SEC Titles like predicted. In true UT fashion, we are setting ourselves up for disappointment.

November 21, 2012 at 1:35 p.m.
Stewwie said...

I'm thankful for the 5@10. 'Nuff said.

Biff! Long time no see, man.

As for attendance at Mocs games, didn't Weeds write a very similar article around this time last year? Despite the Mocs having a very disappointing year, attendance ended up being pretty good compared to other schools in the conference. And let's remember that it is only November, and it still doesn't yet feel like basketball season.

The days of 8k-9k in McKenzie are long over. And they're not coming back no matter who the coach is. The technology these days makes many options available like never before in choosing which games to watch. Plus, the ADD generation is growing up, and those folks get jittery with the mere thought of attending and focusing on one game for 2 hours. Maybe the economy still has a role to play in low attendance, but college basketball attendance has been sagging the last few years overall as well.

The college game could use some improvement starting with better officials. Horrible officiating and several unnecessary delays (mainly in the first half) last night. Also, the timeout allotment MUST change. Currently, it's 8 media timeouts a game, plus 5 timeouts per team. That's potentially 18 timeouts in one game and the games noticeablly drag on at times.

The Arena is getting a slight makeover next season with new seats in the lower bowl. I've been told that the seats will be a bit wider and more comfortable since the average Moc fan has grown more horizontally over the years. Looks like some of those seats will be gray in addition to blue. Not yet sure about that color choice, but we'll see how it turns out.

November 21, 2012 at 1:41 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Spy —

If he doesn't like the big fish sammich and key lime pie, then he can take his Communist self elsewhere. U-S-A! U-S-A! WOLVERINES!

9er —

We thankful for the hoops fans of UK, UNC, Duke and the rest of those schools that make regular-season college basketball bearable.

JMC —

It was a sad day in Smyrna when they closed the Whattaburger. Sigh.

962 —

William Wallace is the perfect comparison for Gruden.

Did you know Gruden kills men by the hundreds.

Aye. And if he were he'd consume the Tide with fireballs from his eyes (Gruden does have a pretty stout glare) and bolts of lightning from his visor.

Gruden is the coaching Paul Bunyon. Or even Big Jon, Big Bad Jon. (And the bottom of this mine lies one heck of a man.)

Stew —

Attendance is down across college hoops, but not like this. If there were 800 in the stands last night, then there were a slew of high school games in our area that drew more than the Mocs last night against a fairly competent D-I foe. Not King's College or Emmanuel or whomever.

Great call on the overload of TOs and the ADD generation that can sit at home and click between 4 college hoops games, 2 NBA games and college football game, X-Box, Vegas and some DVRed signing shows.

So the Mocs fans are growing in at least one way. Like us, maybe they swallowed a lot of agression — along with a lot of pizzas.

— 5-at-10

November 21, 2012 at 2:06 p.m.
JonathanMCook said...

Todd 962 wrote-

"Yeah, I am sure he will be better than what we have had in the past few years, but what are us as Tennessee fans going to do if we do get him and dont immediately start rolling off SEC Titles like predicted. In true UT fashion, we are setting ourselves up for disappointment."

Hince what I wrote yesterday regarding the fact if JVF actually "believes" in such a drastic turnaround, Gunner comes out of the closet as a Bronie and the Market Street bridge is available for purchase (and jumping while in a decommissioned police cruiser)

Note to JVF fans: You know that saying regarding Rome and a day? Exactly. Sincerely, the JMFs.

November 21, 2012 at 2:19 p.m.
sportsfan said...

Jay, I'm thankful for Mrs Sportsfan, Sportsfan Jr, and little miss Sportsfan, all of whom enjoy playing and watching various sporting events. What more could a guy ask for? Keep up the good work on the 5 at 10.

November 21, 2012 at 2:23 p.m.
JonathanMCook said...

I agree with Stew on the other factors. Heck I encouraged it. I watched GA and GSU and Mocs/Elon back and forth until one of the games became one-sided. Although I don't believe college basketball is down overall. To me, my opinion mind you, it depends in the program. Schools like Purdue, Indiana, and Michigan are steeply deep, deep-rooted in basketball tradition while us well..not so much. Plus as jay pointed out lackluster schedules the past 3-5 years and XBox and you might as well call it a program. But I degress, I do hope for the best and like to stay positive. Heck, even though it was one-sided, Mocs vs. Iowa was fire marshall hazzard packed. And we're not even a wrestling school. Just a thought.

November 21, 2012 at 2:33 p.m.
biff_loman said...

good to be back, Stew!

although, sad to see that the roundhouse is not the home court advantage it once was

this team is very young and missing some key players, so i won't be as down on them as last year (Shulman should still be gone...too bad about that contract)

i think whoever is promoting Mocs basketball (if anyone is) needs to find new avenues to get the crowds out.

Viral marketing, cheaper tickets, whatever. Of course a better product on the court is the key.

November 21, 2012 at 3:39 p.m.
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