Why The UNC Football Team Should Hire Michael Jordan (Updated)

Would MJ be a good football coach? You bet he would. Your eyes are not deceiving you. This article is about why UNC should make the Michael Jordan that you see to your left our new head football coach. You might believe (along with everyone else) that there are far superior and far more likely candidates, and I will discuss those coaches in detail. However, Jordan is the best choice for 2007 because of the crucial point where the UNC program is right now.

(Photo: is MJ our man? You bet! Thank you for putting up with the worst pun ever.)

Given the circumstances of the UNC Football program (talented players, talented young staff, a top recruiting class, and a great football facility), the future is bright. however, I doubt that someone will move from a powerful football program to coach here. It’s more likely that the next UNC coach will either be a coach at a school in a less powerful, mid major conference looking to make a name for himself at a post in a more powerful BCS conference, a coordinator or assistant coach at a major program (for the same reason), or a coach recently fired from a more prominent job looking for success elsewhere. Previous success helps, but what the Tar Heels need is an Alpha, a leader who will take the team in the right direction. With that in mind, here is a short list of candidates for the job:

HE MIGHT ACTUALLY BE WORSE

bobby-johnson.jpgBobby Johnson: Head Coach, Vanderbilt.

  • Source: Charlotte Observer.
  • Why it’s a good idea: He has head coaching experience both at a mid major school and at a BCS school. (Keep in mind that John Bunting and Carl Torbush had no prior head coaching experience.) Vanderbilt seems to have made great strides last year with their QB and now-Denver Bronco, Jay Cutler.
  • Why it’s a bad idea: Johnson is 14-39 at Vanderbilt, the Duke of the SEC. Even with a 1st-round talent at QB, Vandy still finished 5-6 in 2005.
  • Will he be in Chapel Hill in 2007? If UNC gets desperate, then maybe. There are too many good names being thrown around for him to be a candidate at this point.

larry-coker.jpgLarry Coker: Head Coach, Miami.

  • Source: My hunch that Coker will be available after this season-the ‘Canes are in an off year, to put it mildly.
  • Why it’s a good idea: He has coaching experience at one of the nation’s most storied programs, Miami, where he led the Hurricanes to the 2001 National Championship and almost won it in 2002. Between 2001 and 2005, no coach in Division 1A had a better winning percentage than Coker.
  • Why it’s a bad idea: There’s a reason Miami fans are calling for his head. Miami has struggled since joining the ACC, and Coker has been unable to recruit the talent his predecessor, Butch Davis, managed to recruit (and let’s face facts, the 2001 Championship team was assembled by Davis; Coker simply finished the job). Recent developments, including players breaking the law and the brawl against Florida International, cast the belief that Coker isn’t in control of his players. And to boot, he’s like, 127 years old.
  • Will he be in Chapel Hill in 2007?: God, I hope not.

Frank Cignetti: Offensive Coordinator, North Carolina.

  • Source: Dick Baddour (in the press conference, he did not mention him specifically but hinted that he was open to a hiring from within the UNC organization).
  • Why it’s a good idea: He was the offensive coordinator of Fresno State for four years, where the offense averaged more nearly 53 points a game in a six game stretch in 2004 and had a winning record each of his four years. The Bulldogs are 1-6 since he left. Being part of the current program, Cignetti would allow for a fairly smooth transition. His youth would allow for him to build the program for years to come if he is successful.
  • Why it’s a bad idea: Like Bunting and Torbush, Cignetti has no previous head coaching experience, at least not at the college level. Since coming to Chapel Hill, the offense has struggled mightily, scoring no more than 20 points against any Division 1A opponent and averaging 11 points per game excluding 1-AA Furman…not good.
  • Will He Be in Chapel Hill in 2007? Maybe in his current job, maybe as a Head Coach. There are a lot of question marks and it probably won’t happen, but he seems to be the best candidate I’ve listed so far.

REALISTIC CANDIDATES

kragthorpe.jpegSteve Kragthorpe: Head Coach, Tulsa.

  • Source: There are quite a few reports list Kragthorpe as a candidate, including ESPN and the Winston-Salem Journal.
  • Why it’s a good idea: Kragthorpe has turned Tulsa from a perpetual doormat into a contender, leading them to a Conference USA championship in 2005, and his Golden Hurricane are poised to repeat in 2006. At 41 he could be able to build long-term success at Carolina. Several analysts consider him to be one of college football’s best young minds and near the top of Carolina’s wish list, although UNC has not officially named anyone they’re seeking.
  • Why it’s a bad idea: He is still somewhat of an unproven talent. He has no familiarity with the UNC program, although considering our recent history that might be a good thing.
  • Will he be in Chapel Hill in 2007? He is considered to be the frontrunner for the job, but he has refused to discuss the matter to the press. He would be a good fit here, but I have issues with his name. Kragthorpe? Yech.
  • UPDATE (11/4/06): Kragthorpe has said he is not interested in the UNC job and that he wants to stay at Tulsa.

paul-johnson.jpegPaul Johnson: Head Coach, Navy.

  • Source: See above.
  • Why it’s a good idea: If Tulsa is a good turnaround story, Navy is an even better one. Once a proud football school, Navy found themselves one of the doormats of Division 1A. Paul Johnson managed to turn them completely around. The midshipmen have had three straight winning seasons, and are 6-3 so far this year. Their 10-2 record in 2004 was their first 10 win season in forty years.
  • Why it’s a bad idea: Navy consistently has one of the easiest schedules in college football; as independents they are free to schedule anyone they please. Johnson might not adjust well to conference play. Navy also runs an option-style offense, which officially went extinct in major college football when Nebraska hired Bill Callahan in 2003.
  • Will he be in Chapel Hill in 2007? With a great recruiting class and the chance to coach in a major conference, an offer from UNC might be too good to pass up.

LONGSHOTS

butch-davis.jpgButch Davis, Former Head Coach, Miami Hurricanes(NCAA)/Cleveland Browns(NFL).

  • Why it’s a good idea: Larry Coker may have won them the title, but Davis is the man responsible for the recent resurgence of the Miami Hurricanes. After the football program was left for dead after severe NCAA penalties in the mid 1990s, Davis rebuilt the program into a power, bringing in players like Edgerrin James, Ken Dorsey, Clinton Portis, Willis McGahee, Jeremy Shockey, Andre Johnson, Santana Moss, Bryant McKinnie, Vince Wilfork, Jerome Douglas, Johnathan Vilma, D.J. Willams, Ed Reed, and Sean Taylor, all of whom are successful NFL players. Through it all his team stayed out of trouble with the NCAA.
  • Why it’s a bad idea: He proved to be a very unsuccessful coach at the professional level; but so was USC coach Pete Carroll. At 54 Davis is unlikely to be a long term solution (unless he stays until he’s as old as JoePa). Miami has its own problems at head coach, so they will likely become the premier suitor.
  • Will he be in Chapel Hill in 2007? According to the Charlotte Observer, Davis has expressed interest in the job, so maybe he’s not such a longshot after all. My advice is that if he’s available, grab him.
  • UPDATE (11/4/06): According to ESPN, Davis is now the frontrunner for the job.

David Cutcliffe, Offensive Coordinator, University of Tennessee.

  • Why it’s a good idea: Cutcliffe was the offensive coordinator at UT when they won the title in 1999, and is responsible for their offensive resurgence in 2006. He also has head coaching experience at Ole Miss from 2000 to 2004. He has coached both Peyton and Eli Manning, as well as running backs Jamal Lewis and Deuce McAllister.
  • Why it’s a bad idea: Cutcliffe was fired from Ole Miss for what appeared to be underachieving; despite the weapons at his disposal, he failed to win even an SEC West division championship. He isn’t exactly a spring chicken, either.
  • Will he be in Chapel Hill in 2007? There are several candidate whom are better fits, but UNC could do a lot worse than this guy.

MY MOM’S CHOICE
Steve Marriuci: Head Coach, 49ers and Lions (NFL).

mariucci.jpg
Never underestimate a mother’s wisdom.

NO CHANCE IN HELL

rich-rodriguez.JPGRich Rodriguez: Head Coach, West Virginia.

  • Source: Winston-Salem Journal, ESPN, InsideCarolina.
  • Why it’s a good idea: Rodriguez has some familiarity with the ACC, spending two years as a offense coordinator for Tommy Bowden’s Clemson team. He’s led a resurgence for West Virginia football, lifting them among the nation’s elite. At age 43, Rodriguez will be a successful college coach for years to come.
  • Why it won’t happen: Just try and convince him that it’s a good idea to leave the great program he has now. Go ahead, just try. He is the toast of an entire state now, but in Chapel Hill no matter how successful he is he would still be second fiddle to Roy and friends. My suggestion is if he does express interest in the job, kidnap him and hide him in a cardboard box before he changes his mind.

MY PERSONAL CHOICE
michael-jordan.jpgMichael Jordan, Greatest UNC Athlete of All Time. He doesn’t even need a link.

  • Source: My Brain. You got a problem with that?
  • Why it’s a good idea: Jordan is the ultimate Alpha; it was apparent in the way he led the Bulls to six championships. It’s obvious he’s the biggest name for this job; recruits would beat a path to our door just to meet coach Jordan. He has already tried his hand in baseball, so being a football coach is the next step as far as his hubris is concerned. I’d pay 40 bucks just to see him on the sidelines every Saturday. Honestly, who wouldn’t?
  • Why it’s a bad idea: I can’t think of anything wrong. Critics might say “he doesn’t know any football”, but he was on his high school football team in Wilmington, NC. Besides, football knowledge is what the coordinators are for! Head coaches need to be good leaders above all else, and Jordan is precisely that.
  • Will he be In Chapel Hill in 2007? I will lead the search to find a suitable MTV Cribs style house for His Airness. I will give him my bedroom and sleep on the living room couch if it means he coaches the football team. If UNC were smart, they would sign him up, make Rich Rodriguez our offensive coordinator and Butch Davis our defensive coordinator. It would certainly be expensive, but UNC’s $1.49 billion endowment(PDF) has to go somewhere.

If you’ve made it this far through the article, congratulations. That was a lot of information to digest. There are a lot of good coaching candidates for UNC to consider. If UNC chooses a good coach like Butch Davis, Steve Kragthorpe, or Rich Rodriguez, the Tar Heels will become a contender in the ACC for years to come. But if they want to reach the promised land (a championship), they must select MJ, a man who knows how to get to the promised land.

A man who has been to the promised land seven times before.

Next Week: Blogging the football game against Wake was so much fun, I’m going to do it again! Tune in November 4 against Notre Dame as I will almost certainly say something that will get me expelled.

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Blogging a Football Game-UNC vs. Wake Forest

(Note: for the next few weeks, I’m going to be writing as a sportswriter for the Daily Tar Heel. Today I’m going to blog the game between UNC and Wake Forest from a bar in West Franklin Street. For my Professor Brian Carroll, this is the Week 11 Assignment.)

Okay, I think I owe you an explanation. You must be thinking, Why isn’t he blogging this from the game? I have several reasons:

  • It’s a HUGE hassle trying to get a computer into Kenan Stadium, especially since I am technically not a member of the press. Hassles include getting a computer into the game (which I can’t), accessing the Internet (which I can’t), and accessing power (I can’t plug it in anywhere, and my battery is toast).
  • A ticket costs $40. I just looked into my pocket and found exactly $24.56.
  • If the game is going to go the way I think it’s going to go, I’m going to need a drink. (Now would be a good time to let you know that I am 19 years old).

So there you have it. Today I’m reporting from Shorty’s Bar and Grill on West Franklin Street, Chapel Hill, NC. I would have reported from the Carolina Brewery, but they have neither wireless Internet nor ESPNU, on which today’s game will be shown.

Interesting subplots: John Bunting’s firing, our QB issues, and Wake Forest’s surprising season.
3:35 pm. The game has just started (on ESPNU). Tar Heels get the ball first.

3:45 pm. Tar Heel offense quickly sputters. They line for the punt…and its blocked! Wake recovers and returns the ball for a touchdown. It isn’t looking good. I am not the least bit surprised; mistakes like this have been characteristic of this season (and really, Coach Bunting’s tenure, but that’s another entry).

3:50 pm. Heels get the ball back, and are showing signs of life on offense. Quarterback Joe Dailey seems to be getting a rhythm.

3:55 pm. Touchdown! on 3rd and goal from the 1, instead of running it in UNC uses the play action, Dailey runs to the right and throws to a defensive lineman (Andre Barbour) in the end zone. It’s now tied, 7-7.

4:10 pm. The quarter ended without much else happening. Wake is moving the ball nicely; I don’t whether that means their offense is good or our defense is bad. Wake has been the story of the ACC this year. They’re 6-1 and would probably be 7-0 if not for a few 4th quarter mistakes that Clemson took advantage of. It’s especially remarkable because Wake was predicted to finish last in the ACC Atlantic Division and has played nearly its entire season without starting Quarterback Ben Mauk or starting Running Back Micah Andrews. After that, almost everyone else in the ACC has underachieved this season. The commissioner of the Big East and its three undefeated teams (Louisville, West Virginia and Rutgers) must be laughing right now.

Interesting side note: Wake Forest actually began as a university in 1953 in its namesake town of Wake Forest, NC, but moved to Winston-Salem to expand. The old campus is now occupied by the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. I know this because when I went to Louisburg College from 1999 to 2001, I would commute to Louisburg (in Franklin County, NC) from Chapel Hill, and I would pass by the Seminary off NC Route 98 every day. I should note that I was 12 at the time and thus had to be driven back and forth by my parents. Perhaps this information is unimportant to you, but now your brain is stuck with it.
4:15 pm. The Deacons run a reverse and the UNC defense was completely fooled. Touchdown Wake, it’s now 14-7.

4:20 pm. Out goes Joe Dailey, in comes Cam Sexton. He has a completion percentage of 41% and twice as many interceptions (8) as touchdowns (4) this season. With the exception of the Furman game, Carolina has scored 8.8 points per game with Cam at QB. Something tells me this isn’t going to end well.

4:25 pm. I have to give credit to the folks at ESPNU. They only went to one commercial break in the entire first quarter. On an attendance note, I just took a look into the stands; at the beginning of the game the stands were practically empty; now the stadium has filled up. I have no idea what to make of this, but ‘fair weather crowd’ comes to mind.

The Heels just went three and out. I could have seen this coming a mile away.

4:35 pm. I stand corrected. Cam and Ronnie McGill led the Heels to another score to tie the game 14-14, AND ESPNU is showing ads galore.

4:40 pm. An ambulance just drove through West Franklin Street, sirens ringing. Just thought you should know.

4:45 pm. Checking the other TVs in here, Ohio State is leading Minnesota 17-0, Florida is leading Georgia 14-0, Miami leads Georgia Tech 13-10, and Oklahoma State just scored a touchdown but still trails Nebraska 16-13.

4:50 pm. Out with Cam, in with Joe Dailey. Huh? This is either strategy or someone not paying attention to the game. A certain someone who won’t be here in 2007. I don’t know what to think.

4:55 pm. Well, we knew this was coming eventually. Dailey throws an interception on 3rd and long. Wake runs out the clock to end the first half. Wake 14, UNC 14.

5:20 pm. Just got back from stuffing my face with a cheeseburger. Ronnie McGill rushed 22 times for 100 yards and a touchdown in the first half. Where was this all season? In other games, USC is down 16-7 at halftime to Oregon State (upset watch), and Nebraska now leads 23-20 versus Oklahoma State.

5:25 pm. The second half has started. Wake gets the ball first; they get a few good runs but are forced to punt.

Interesting side note: One of the commentators at the ESPNU studio at halftime complimented offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti‘s playcalling. Before today, UNC has scored more than 10 points against Division 1A opponents exactly once. You can just taste the irony, and the flavor is E.coli infested spinach.

CORRECTION: UNC scored 20 points against USF on October 14th. But you get my point.
5:30 pm. Joe Dailey stays in the game, right after he threw an interception; this comes not long after they pulled him for Cam after Dailey threw a touchdown pass. Way to go, Frank!

5:35 pm. Joe throws a deep pass downfield, caught by Brooks Foster for a 40 yard gain. Wake Forest challenges the call (it looks like the catch might have been broken up), but the call stands. The play leads to a field goal, and UNC leads 17-14, the first lead for UNC against a Division 1A opponent this season. Have I mentioned how happy I am that we’re going to get a new coach in 2007?

5:40 pm: TAR! HEELS! TAR! HEELS! TAR! HEELS! TAR! HEELS!…

5:45 pm: About that last statement: there are few, if any, better people in college football than John Bunting. I would like to borrow perhaps the most backhanded complement I’ve ever heard, courtesy of the Athletic Director of Notre Dame describing the tenure of their former head coach, Tyrone Willingham: “From Sunday to Friday, he’s the best coach in college football.”

CORRECTION (10/29): I found the actual quote in an ESPN article: “From Sunday to Friday he exceeded all expectiations, in every way. But on Saturday, we struggled.” The one you saw above was a paraphase, and I should have said so.

5:50 pm: I just saw the following ad: “Are you tired of feeling fat? Has your sex life slowed down or even come to a halt? Hi, I’m Dan Marino, and I lost 22 pounds on Nutrisystem for Men.” Completely Bizzare. Four things about that ad:

  1. Dan’s before picture and his after picture don’t look much different.
  2. During the ad I saw Dan bite into perhaps the wimpiest burger ever. The roach whom I’m sure is under my fridge would consider that an appetizer.
  3. Nutrisystem actually sends you their meals by mail, without refrigeration. Do you have any idea how many preservatives are needed for that kind of transport?
  4. Nutrisystem is actually a publically owned company in the American stock market. I’d sell it now if I were you. Seriously, stop reading this, go to your online broker and sell Nutrisystem NOW!…I don’t care if the stock market’s closed! Now means NAAAOOOOWWWWWWH!!!

CORRECTION (10/29): Have you seen Dan’s before and after photos on the Nutrisystem website? It looks like they photoshopped Abraham Lincoln’s head onto Dan’s body!

Also, I looked at Nutrisystem’s stock, and it might actually be worth buying. It’s Price-to-Earnings ratio is slightly high, but it has strong support from both Wall St. analysts and institutional investors, it has a high 1 year target estimate, and its competition is sparse. Perhaps you should keep an eye on it.

5:55 pm. Wake Forest holds the ball for the rest of the 3rd quarter. UNC 17, Wake 14. I might actually cover a win! I don’t know how to describe this.

6:00 pm. Wake kicks a field goal to tie it, 17-17.

6:10 pm. Why am I not surprised by the following course of events? UNC completely abandons the run, the tight end catches a pass and fumbles, Wake recovers, they throw a 39-yard pass for the touchdown on the very next play, the Wake constituency in Kenan Stadium cheers their lungs out, Tar heel fans fall silent, it’s 24-17 Wake, and guess what ad ESPNU shows? “Hi, I’m Dan Marino and I lost 22 pounds on Nutrisystem…”

6:15 pm. Cam is in the game. When I think of a quarterback who can get us back into this game, I think of a struggling Freshman QB. I’m convinced Bobby Bowden is controlling John Bunting’s mind using voodoo headphones after we beat FSU 41-9 in 2001. That is the only possible explanation for everything that’s happened since.

6:20 pm. Upset Watch: Oregon State 33, USC 17. UNC gets into a quick 3-and out. Then I see the only ad wierder than the Nutrisystem one, courtesy of GEICO and Mini Me: “Yeah, I got the check. Got my car fixed, it’s my birthday, fixed my bumper, new taillights, go GEICO, its my birthday…”. This is the kind of subplotting and free association you just couldn’t be reading if I were in the stadium.

6 :30 pm. Less than 4 minutes to go, and Joe Dailey’s back on offense. I can’t stand the ready to play rule in college, which means the clock runs on first down after a change in possession. It robs college football of valuable and exciting football.

6:35 pm. Upset Watch: Oregon St. 33, USC 25. UNC converts on 4th down, but time is running out. If not for the blocked punt and the fumble, it’s 17-10, UNC. That’s Coach Bunting’s specialty: snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. I can think of at least ten different games lost precisely this way.

6:40 pm. Once again, I’ve spoken too soon: UNC converts on fourth down AGAIN! 55 seconds left, 24-17..and Dailey throws a bomb caught by Hakeem Nicks and taken to the 3 yard line!…

…And then it all comes crashing down. Joe Dailey slips on first down, on second down he spikes the ball, and on third down Wake picks it off in the end zone. Game over, 24-17 Wake. This game was lost in the worst way. The only thing that could make it worse? “Hi, I’m Mini Me and I lost 22 pounds on Nutrisystem.” Did I mention how happy I am that we’re getting a new coach in 2007?

6:45 pm. That ambulance just went racing down West Franklin Street again. Just thought you should know.

7:10 pm. Upset Watch: This game just went final: Oregon State 33, #3 USC 31. Another Top 5 team goes down. USC came back from 20 points down, but missed the two-point conversion to tie the game.

Final Comments: I have to give credit where credit is due. Wake is a good football team, and UNC played much better that I had expected them to. This game came down to opportunities. Wake took full advantage of the opportunities that were given to them, and UNC did not. UNC inexplicably abandoned the run in the second half; after Ronnie McGill ran for 100 yards in the first half, he ran for 17 yards in the second half, proving the old adage that it doesn’t matter how you start; it’s how you finish. My mom has said from the beginning of Bunting’s career that he was a good person but a bad coach. I had spent 2002 until August 2006 arguing with her about this, defending him. But in the 2006 season his team took away my ability to defend him.

Tune for my next post, as I give my personal eulogy of John Bunting’s career at UNC, and I begin speculating who might replace him, from the “He might actually be worse” to the “realistic” to the “longshot” to the “No Chance in Hell”.

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I Think The Daily Tar Heel Made A Big Mistake-Part 2

Last week I said that for the next several weeks, I will be creating content as though I were writing forĀ  the Sports section of the Daily Tar Heel, the student-run newspaper at UNC.

Every Monday, The Daily Tar Heel has an extended Sports page both in print and online. This is usually the only time a sports opinion column will appear (usually written by either Gregg Found or Sam Shepard). My job will be to try to take their job.
Integrating the potential of the Web medium is not exactly the paper’s forte. What the Daily Tar Heel tends to do is take the articles they print on the newspapers they circulate on campus and essentially paste them onto the Internet. There are very few links (if any), and nothing in the way of multimedia. On the other hand, TarHeelBlue does a much better job of incorporating multimedia into their articles. You can expect my articles to be similar in its integration of multimedia, but with a critical eye that TarHeelBlue just won’t allow.

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I’m Pretty Sure the Daily Tar Heel Made a Big Mistake

For the next several weeks, I an going to write content intended for the sports section of the Daily Tar Heel, a student-run newspaper at UNC. I chose this assignment partly in order to blog a football game this season, because I am lazy.

(Note: What I’ll be writing won’t actually be published in the Daily Tar Heel, it will simply be written as thought that were the intention. I say so that when I run for President in 2032, some TV investigation won’t use this as an example of me lying about myself. Those *&^#@*^#$!s.)

  • The Daily Tar Heel is UNC’s daily student-run newspaper, printed only wehn school is in session. The paper catalouges mostly university and local events. Every day at least one page is dedicated to Tar Heel Sports, and two pages including the back page on Monday. Special sporting events such as UNC vs. Duke, a football upset, the ACC and NCAA tournament, and UNC’s trip to the 2006 College World Series are often front page news, allowing sports to occupy even more newspaper space.
  • The Audience of the Daily Tar Heel is comprised of UNC students, alumni, faculty and staff, with a small portion of Chapel Hill, NC residents unaffiliated with the university. Content of the sports pages thus caters to the very UNC -centric and is heavily subjective in favor of the Tar Heels. Even when the sports pages digress, they often discuss related issues such as the Atlantic Coast Conference, with which UNC is affiliated, and our hated rival Duke (often spelled ‘dook’ in Chapel Hill). TarHeelBlue.com has a similar demographic and a larger audience. I considered writing for that site but decided against it because if I were to write for a website run by UNC’s athletic department, I could not be as critical of what I don’t like (i.e. Dick Baddour and John Bunting) as I could at the Daily Tar Heel.
  • My “Stance” is that of a crazed, die-hard Tar heel fan: optomistic and cynical, sane and insane at the same time. I couldn’t show this attitude in writing for TarHeelBlue.com, but I can at the Daily Tar Heel, because they have a weekly sports opinion column.
  • The Style I will use for these assignments is a “house style guide”, a combination of Strunk’s Elements of Style (for English grammar) and Lynch and Horton’s Web Style Guide 2 (formatting pieces for the Web).
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