Big 12: Chuck Long

Roundup: Top 25, legends, KU coach chat

June, 29, 2011
6/29/11
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I’m glad you all made it without me. I'm back. Enjoyed the trip to California. Got some surfing and various other beachery in. There was also some Dodgers baseball, some Disneyland, lots of walking and most importantly, some good times with friends.

Anyway, here’s a bit of what we missed while I was away:

Lots of former Big 12ers on “Simply Saturday” list

You probably got a chance to at least gloss over our Q&A with former Oklahoma quarterback Jason White, who came in at No. 45 on our “Simply Saturday” list, which ranks the top 50 players of all-time who are best known for their college careers.

We’ll have more this week as it moves on, including a Big 12 wrap-up, but White’s not the only Big 12 player on the list.

No. 49: Hart Lee Dykes, WR, Oklahoma State

He’s best known for getting four schools put on probation, but a broken kneecap ended his career early.

No. 45: Jason White, QB, Oklahoma

The Heisman winner took some time out for us at ESPN.com last week.

No. 43: Steve Owens, RB, Oklahoma

One of the Sooners’ other five Heisman winners, Owens racked up 17 consecutive 100-yard games and went 19th overall in the draft, but a knee injury forced him to retire after the 1974 season.

No. 34: J.C. Watts, QB, Oklahoma

He helped Barry Switzer and Oklahoma in consecutive Orange Bowls in 1980 and 1981, but eventually found success in politics, serving four terms in the U.S. House of Representatives.

We’ll have more at the end of the week after we unveil the rest of the list.

Four from Big 12 on Blue Ribbon top 25

The Blue Ribbon Yearbook released its top 25, and four teams cracked the top 25. Here’s where they landed:

1. Oklahoma

8. Texas A&M

12. Oklahoma State

24. Missouri

It’s an interesting list. You could make a case either way on A&M and OSU, but ultimately, I think when the official AP and ESPN/USA Today preseason polls drop in August, you’ll see those two schools flipped. They’re very close in my book entering the season. Assuming they’re undefeated heading into their Sept. 24 showdown, I’d expect the team that’s simply more impressive in nonconference to hold the higher ranking.

Jayhawks OC Chuck Long sits down with ESPN.com



Kansas offensive coordinator, a former Iowa quarterback, helped us out with our Simply Saturday series by chatting with fans on Tuesday.

A few highlights:

John in Kansas City asked: With a lot of young talented running backs, what will be the approach to handling carries? Running Back by committee?

Chuck Long: Well, we still need to figure that out. That's what our training camp is for. We're all going in wide eyed. Miller was here in the spring and came along in a great way. Training camp will play out. We're not talking redshirting at this time. With the physicality of the Big 12, we'll need the guys. We'll let it play out. We do plan on running the football.

My take: Very interesting that Darrian Miller was the first name that came to mind for Long. I’m not taking any larger truths from that, but it’s very, very obvious that he’s going to be a big part of what they do this year.

Daniel in KC asked: How are the quarterbacks progressing this year?

CL: The QBs have been progressing very well. I think they've made some steps forward from last year. They had some rough experiences at times, but experience is experience. They have it under their belt. I thought in the spring that Jordan and Quin improved. We are starting to develop a better foundation there. We feel good about where they're at.

Jeff in Kansas asked: Do you feel the offensive line that will not only allow a good running game but enough pass protection to have an effective passing offense

CL: Yes we do. That's one of the things I wanted to mention before, our OL is better. We were going in cold last year. We had some experience on the OL, but not much. We really have that lined up. We know what they can do. We think we'll make some progress there. A lot of that too goes back to the QB position and our WRs getting open. We feel with a good run game, we'll be able to have better pass protection.

Greg in Kansas asked: What are you looking forward to most about 10 teams in the Big 12?

CL: We pick up teams like Oklahoma and Texas this year. Our schedule got tougher. That's the one thing. The other side of it, we play a round robin schedule. Everyone plays each other. That's good, it makes for a more pure champion of the league. This goes back to the Big 10 days when I was there, when there were only 10 teams there. I've gone full circle.

Lots more later today as the Big 12 Blog gets back to full speed.
Spring football is in full swing. Three teams from the Big 12 (Texas Tech, Baylor, Texas) are already done, and the last team in the Big 12 to start (Kansas State) kicked off on Wednesday.

That leaves seven teams in the Big 12 on the field, but who's coaching them? We've had plenty of teams shift coordinators this season, so here's a quick refresher if you've been busy following basketball since the season ended and the coaching carousel began spinning.

BAYLOR

Defensive coordinator: Phil Bennett. He replaces Brian Norwood, who moved to associate head coach and secondary coach. Bennett was previously the defensive coordinator at Pittsburgh, where he coordinated the nation's No. 8 defense.

KANSAS

Offensive coordinator: David Beaty. He spent a year at Rice, but returned to Kansas to coach receivers and serve as co-offensive coordinator alongside Chuck Long. He replaces Darrell Wyatt, who left to coach receivers at Texas. Long retained play-calling duties.

OKLAHOMA

Offensive coordinator: Josh Heupel and Jay Norvell. They'll share offensive coordinator duties, with Heupel calling the plays. He did so during the Sooners' 48-20 win over Connecticut in the Fiesta Bowl. They'll replace Kevin Wilson, who left to become the head coach at Indiana. Heupel will continue to coach quarterbacks as he has since 2006. Norvell will continue to coach receivers as he has since 2008.

OKLAHOMA STATE

Offensive coordinator: Todd Monken. He'll replace Dana Holgorsen, who took over as offensive coordinator at West Virginia and is scheduled to replace Bill Stewart as the head coach in 2012. Monken previously coached receivers for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

TEXAS

Offensive coordinator: Bryan Harsin and Major Applewhite. Harsin spent a decade at Boise State and five years as offensive coordinator, and will replace Greg Davis, the longtime coordinator under Mack Brown who resigned after the 2010 season. Applewhite is the co-coordinator after coaching running backs since 2008, but Harsin will call plays.

Defensive coordinator: Manny Diaz. Another young coach, Diaz was at Middle Tennessee State in 2009 and coordinated the defense at Mississippi State under Dan Mullen last season. He replaces Will Muschamp, who left to become head coach at Florida.

TEXAS TECH

Defensive coordinator: Chad Glasgow. Previously the secondary coach at TCU, Glasgow helped the Horned Frogs win the Rose Bowl last year and parlayed his recent excellence into a coordinator gig in Lubbock, where he'll replace James Willis, who left the program in December, before the Red Raiders beat Northwestern in the inaugural TicketCity Bowl.

Lunch links: Diary gives look inside

September, 1, 2010
9/01/10
12:30
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Mystery Link Theater 3000!

Lunch links: Former Baylor star found dead at 26

July, 7, 2010
7/07/10
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Sad news from Texas.

Lunch links: Leach speaks

July, 2, 2010
7/02/10
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SPOILER ALERT: No. 1 on the Big 12's top 25 list: Garrett Gilbert.

Lunch links: Huskers, Buffs to escape penalties?

June, 23, 2010
6/23/10
12:30
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Lunch links: Kansas OC sued by former player

March, 11, 2010
3/11/10
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Back in Dallas from my visits to Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. More coverage of both teams is on the way, but I'll be dropping by all 12 schools this spring, so hold your complaints, North fans. Only two North teams, Colorado and Missouri, are currently practicing.
What do I want to see this spring? How about everything?

Turner Gill will give a first look at how he and coordinators Carl Torbush and Chuck Long run their program, and will no doubt be watched closely after Mark Mangino’s resignation amid allegations of player abuse.

On the field, sophomore quarterback Kale Pick will look to cement a spot at starter, but JUCO transfer Quinn Mecham arrives with 40 touchdowns last season at Snow College in Utah on his resume.

Though once fall arrives, Gill might not have to pick, and Kansas could very well employ both Pick, a runner who averaged almost 12 yards per carry last season, and Mecham, a more precise passer.

Who catches those passes could be another question mark. Dezmon Briscoe and Kerry Meier are gone, and Johnathan Wilson, Bradley McDougald and Chris Omigie have to prove they're ready this spring. If they don’t, those opportunities might not be there long in the fall. Of Kansas' 18 signees in 2010, four are wide receivers.
Here are some lunch links to send you into the afternoon on a cold, blustery day across the Midlands.

Call it my own version of "Chicken Soup for the Big 12 Fan's Soul."

Enjoy them.

Mailbag: Scott still could help Buffaloes

February, 9, 2010
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If it’s Tuesday, it must be a day for a reader’s mailbag.

Here are some of the better offerings from the last several days.

Victor Romero from Boulder, Colo., writes: Hey Tim, If Darrell Scott were to come back to the Buffs, I think the Boulder community would rejoice and might actually soften its "Fire Dan Hawkins" stance a little bit, as it could be seen as Hawk getting Scott into the program twice.

I still think the kid could be a special back, and if he's eligible next season should get 15-20 carries per game. The fact that he wasn't is the biggest reason he wanted to transfer. I think he sees Demetrius Sumler's transfer as the opportunity to get those carries that Hawkins kept from him. What do you think?

Tim Griffin: Victor, you raise a very interesting point. Obviously Rodney “Speedy” Stewart will be the Buffaloes’ No. 1 back coming into the season. But there are still a lot of carries for another back. Scott averaged 7. 9 carries in 2008 as a freshman and saw those numbers drop to 4.6 carries per game in an injury-riddled 2009 before he quit the team.

I agree that Scott could be a productive back if he’s healthy and used correctly. But I don’t see him as a player who could withstand 25 to 30 carries per game.

It will be interesting to see if he returns to the Colorado program. There has been limited interest from other schools. That might lead me to believe that the best place for him is Colorado -- if he and Hawkins can put their differences behind them.


Brad Williamson of Killeen, Texas, writes: Tim, I claim to not get confused about things, but when I do become confused, I make it a point to do my research to find the answer myself. However, there have been a few blog postings you've put on here that I will freely admit I am at a loss on. You have mentioned how Eric Morris and Graham Harrell have been hired by Houston and (I believe) Oklahoma State as assistant coaches.

However, both of those players played last year and are currently still on the roster for the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the CFL. I bleed Red and Black and like to follow the pro careers of former Tech players, but I was wondering if you know how this works. Are both players still playing for Saskatchewan and on staff with the schools, or have they given up their roster spots? I know most people don't care about the CFL, but I was just curious, and it gives me an opportunity to type Saskatchewan a few times. Thanks for your blog!

Tim Griffin: Both Morris and Harrell have given up their professional football careers to start coaching careers with Oklahoma State and Houston.

Both had a chance to play a little in the CFL, but have decided that starting a coaching career is their best path to future employment. I think it's a wise choice for Morris and Harrell.

And I know all about Saskatchewan and Taylor Field. I was in Regina on a windy day back in 1995 when the Baltimore Stallions became the only American team to win the Grey Cup by beating Doug Flutie and the Calgary Stampeders. It remains one of the most vivid memories of my reporting career.


Jon from Topeka, Kan., writes: Do you see more kids signing up and playing soccer in Nebraska than ever before, because of Ndamukong Suh? And where do you think Neb will finish out next season? Can they be a top 5 team?

Tim Griffin: Maybe those kids have seen the value of playing soccer because of Suh, or maybe the multipurpose kicking talents Alex Henery developed before beginning his football career. Both are role models for what soccer players can later accomplish if they decide to play football.

And as far as Nebraska next season, I think the Cornhuskers will be the team to beat in the Big 12 North, but top five might be a little optimistic. I’ll say they will be a top 12-15 team and finish up with a 10-2 record. That should be good enough to get them back in the Big 12 championship game for a second straight season.


Josh Saunders from Tampa, Fla., writes: Tim, in last week’s mailbag, you stated that "Nebraska desperately needs those big-time receivers to consistently challenge Texas and Oklahoma." Correct me if I'm wrong, but Nebraska beat Oklahoma and had Texas beat until the officials (rightly or wrongly) put one second back on the clock. And they did this with an injury-plagued offense that was the worst statistically at NU in almost 40 years. What gives?

Tim Griffin: I hope you noticed that the key word in my answer is “consistently.” Before last season’s victory in Lincoln, the Sooners had won the last four games in the Nebraska series. Texas’ victory in the 2009 Big 12 championship game is the Longhorns’ fifth straight against Nebraska. During the Big 12 era, Texas has won eight of its last nine games against the Cornhuskers with the only loss coming in the 1999 Big 12 title game.

I still think the Cornhuskers need more offensive firepower to compete against the very best teams in the Big 12 -- which in the last decade has been Texas and Oklahoma. Both those teams have the offensive pop to make big plays on a consistent basis. The Cornhuskers need a couple of playmakers to get closer to both of them. That’s still the biggest deficiency I see in Nebraska as the Cornhuskers prepare for the 2010 season.


Ryan S. Williams of Keller, Texas, writes: Hey Tim, thanks for the updates in this college football downtime. I'm a longtime Kansas fan and I'm hoping you could give your opinion on the KU running game this upcoming season. Do you think Toben Opurum will be the lead back with a few doses of Brandon Bourbon or do you think it will be a legitimate two-back system?

Personally I feel like KU should use a lot more of a ground game this season. Thanks for your input and keep it coming.

Tim Griffin: I look for the Jayhawks to run more of a balanced offense this season, along the lines of the one that Chuck Long ran when he was at Oklahoma and at San Diego State. In both situations, Long tried to run the ball to set up the pass.

I know Jake Sharp will be gone from next season’s team, but the Jayhawks return all five starting offensive linemen and their starting tight end. I think a running game also would relieve some of the pressure on the Kansas quarterback -- whether it’s Kale Pick or Quinn Mecham -- as they try to get acclimated to running Long’s offense.

Look for Opurum to get the first shot at becoming the Jayhawks’ featured back. But it wouldn’t surprise me to see Bourbon get more and more carries as the season progresses.

Thanks again for the consistently good questions. I appreciate them all.

Five to watch in Big 12 spring practices

February, 8, 2010
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Spring is a pivotal time for all players across the Big 12.

But several have the opportunity to really make a push for playing time in the fall during spring practices.

Here's a look at five players who could be ready to challenge for playing time this spring.

Kansas quarterback Quinn Mecham: New Kansas offensive coordinator Chuck Long personally recruited him to the Kansas program, meaning he'll get a legitimate shot to win the starting job this spring in a battle with Kale Pick. Mecham threw for 3,091 yards and 40 touchdowns last season at Snow College. He had the kind of moxie that Long thinks will make him a productive player and an immediate contributor for the Jayhawks.

Oklahoma linebacker Tom Wort: A fast early start had him in contention for a starting job with the Sooners before he sustained a season-ending knee injury last August. His recovery has been complete and he should be in the mix for the vacant starting job at middle linebacker this spring for the Sooners.

Kansas State quarterback/running back Chris Harper: The Oregon transfer and Wichita native moved to be closer to home and for a shot at quarterback. The field is crowded with the Wildcats, but Harper's athleticism might give him the opportunity to play particularly with Bill Snyder's interest in Wildcat formations.

Nebraska offensive lineman Jermarcus Hardrick: The 6-foot-7, 315-pound former LSU commitment and transfer from Fort Scott Community College could contend for immediate playing time with a strong spring effort. Nebraska coaches love his size and his tenacity as he already shown well in early conditioning drills.

Baylor offensive lineman Robert Griffin: All eyes will be on the recovery of quarterback Robert Griffin, as he recovers from knee surgery. But Baylor coaches are also eager to have "Big" Robert Griffin playing for them as well. His experience at Navarro Junior College and his size (6-foot-6, 345-pounds) should enable him to immediately contend for the starting job at right tackle.

New Kansas staff will earn 16.61% more than previous staff

February, 5, 2010
2/05/10
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The eight members of Turner Gill's new coaching staff at Kansas will earn significantly more than Mark Mangino's 2009 staff did.

The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Gill's staff will earn $2,059,999.96 this season. That figure is up 16.61 percent from the $1.766,500 that Mangino's staff pocketed for their work last season.

Here's a look at Gill's staff and what it will make.
  • Chuck Long, offensive coordinator: $350,000
  • Carl Torbush, defensive coordinator: $350,000
  • John Grimes, offensive line coach: $250,000
  • Darrell Wyatt, wide receivers coach: $249,999.96
  • Reggie Mitchell, running backs coach/recruiting coordinator: $240,000
  • Buddy Wyatt, defensive line coach: $200,000
  • Vic Shealy, cornerbacks coach: $150,000
  • Aaron Stamm, tight ends coach/special teams coordinator: $150,000
  • Robert Wimberly Jr., safeties coach: $120,000

On Mangino's 2009 staff, former offensive coordinator Ed Warinner was the highest-paid member at $300,000, while defensive coordinator Clint Bowen's base salary of $260,000 was second. None of the members of the old staff were carried over by Gill onto his new staff.

Much has been made about Gill's experienced staff, which will feature former FBS head coaches in Long and Torbush and a couple of the nation's top recruiters in Wyatt and Mitchell. It's obvious that Kansas isn't paying lip service to the cost of assembling a top staff when these salaries are analyzed.

And Gill's starting salary of $2 million per year on a five-year contract is the highest salary that Kansas has ever started a football coach when he begins his work with the Jayhawks.

Big 12 North recruiting needs

January, 21, 2010
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Signing day is just around the corner, and each Big 12 team is doing what it can to keep together its class while adding a late upgrade in talent.

Here's a look at what immediate recruiting needs each North Division team must address first.

Colorado

Running back: With the departure of Darrell Scott and Demetrius Sumler, Dan Hawkins needs to find some talent at running back. With only three scholarship backs on the roster, an immediate talent infusion is needed. Tony Jones is the only commitment and the Buffaloes could use size from a bigger back.

Tight end/H-back: All of the positions are important in Kent Riddle’s offense, and six players graduated from those positions in December. The only player who will return with experience includes junior tight end Ryan Deehan, so Hawkins needs players at the position who can help immediately.

Quarterback: With Tyler Hansen set at quarterback and Cody Hawkins set to graduate after next season, the Buffaloes still would like to add some depth at the position. Nick Hirschman has enrolled early to get a head start on his development, and Josh Moten appears ready to enroll after failing to make his grades before last season.

Iowa State

Across the board talent infusion: The Cyclones already have added 24 commitments for the upcoming season. Junior college players like massive offensive lineman Jon Caspers, defensive end Rony Nelson, wide receiver Anthony Young and tight end Ricky Howard should provide an immediate lift. And look for coach Paul Rhoads to add a couple of more to capitalize on the late momentum from the Insight Bowl victory.

Running back: Preparing for the future will be important as Alexander Robinson will be entering his senior season. Freshmen Beau Blankenship still has some developing to do and Jeremiah Schwartz has left the program. The Cyclones have added depth with the addition of Duran Hollis and Shontrelle Johnson. Don’t be surprised if Hollis moves positions once he comes to college if Johnson develops as expected.

Wide receiver: The Cyclones had trouble making big plays and could use a talent boost at the position. Leading 2009 receiver Marquis Hamilton has graduated and Jake Williams will be a senior next season. Recruits Jarvis West and Chris Young appear to have addressed those needs.

Kansas

Defensive end: The Jayhawks could use a talent upgrade here with occasional starters Jeff Wheeler and Maxwell Onyegbule graduated, and Jake Laptad and Quintin Woods entering their senior seasons in 2010. It became more of a need after Oklahoma beat out the Jayhawks for top defensive end prospect Geneo Grissom earlier this week.

Quarterback: With unproven Kale Pick set to take over for Todd Reesing, the Jayhawks have added junior college transfer Quinn Mecham of Snow Junior College to immediately contend for playing time. Meacham threw for 3,091 yards and 40 touchdowns last season and has already captured the attention of new offensive coordinator Chuck Long because of his experience in the spread offense.

Secondary: New coach Turner Gill also needs help in the secondary where starters Darrell Stuckey and Justin Thornton were seniors and Philip Strozier, Chris Harris and Calvin Rubles will be seniors next season.

Kansas State

Adjust time-held notions to recruiting: Bill Snyder said recruiting seemed “out of kilter” in his first season back because of how teams now are in a hurry to link up with rising juniors. This strategy has caused Snyder to change his recruiting strategy, looking into signing more players earlier than in his previous coaching strategy.

Junior-college additions again will be critical in the trenches: Snyder has attacked the junior colleges with his traditional fervor as he attempts to unearth a couple of under-recruited gems in the offensive line and defensive lines -- the Wildcats’ two primary needs. Also, the Wildcats need some immediate help from the junior colleges after a recruiting imbalance during the last two seasons under Ron Prince that has left them with a need for immediate contributors. Snyder has estimated that up to 13 players will enroll at the semester break to contend immediately for playing time.

Quarterback: Even with a crowded group of potential contenders at the position, Snyder is still considering another quarterback. Carson Coffman, Sammuel Lamur, Collin Klein and Oregon transfer Chris Harper all are in the mix at the position heading into spring practice.

Missouri

Wide receiver: The Tigers have a lot of talent returning, but still will lose leading 2009 receiver Danario Alexander and Jared Perry. The opportunity for eventual playing time will be there for new arrivals, although Jerrell Jackson, Brandon Gerau, T.J. Moe and Wes Kemp will be back.

Nose tackle: The graduation of Jaron Baston and Bart Coslet’s senior-to-be status opens up a position for a contribution in the trenches for the Tigers.

Secondary: All four of Missouri’s projected starters next season -- cornerbacks Carl Gettis and Kevin Rutland and safety Jarrell Harrison and Jasper Simmons -- will be seniors. The Tigers need to restock depth at the position and perhaps move it forward from this class.

Nebraska

Defensive end: The Cornhuskers could use an additional player with Barry Turner graduating and Pierre Allen set to enter his senior season in 2010. They are in the hunt with Oregon for Owamagbe Odighizuwa, a heralded speed rusher from Portland, Ore., who would be the crown jewel in the Cornhuskers’ incoming class if he commits.

Wide receivers: Many players are back, although the Cornhuskers could use an infusion of speed at the position. Niles Paul will be a senior and more talent is needed to make the Cornhuskers competitive with the athletic teams in the South Division like Texas, Oklahoma and Texas Tech.

Safety: Starters Matt O’Hanlon and Larry Asante both will be graduating and Eric Hagg will be a senior in 2010. The Cornhuskers will need some help to join with youngsters Courtney Osborne, Austin Cassidy and P.J. Smith at the position.

Big 12 links: Missouri would profit from move

January, 18, 2010
1/18/10
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It's a little quieter than normal with today's holiday to honor the life and contributions of Dr. Martin Luther King.

But there's still some news percolating around the Big 12.

Here are some of the stories people are talking about.

Gill announces new Kansas coaching staff

January, 5, 2010
1/05/10
2:02
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New Kansas football coach Turner Gill has finished the hiring of his coaching staff with the announcement of six new coaches.

Joining Gill’s staff are offensive line coach J.B. Grimes, running backs coach/recruiting coordinator Reggie Mitchell, cornerbacks coach Vic Shealy, safeties coach Robert Wimberly, defensive line coach Buddy Wyatt and co-offensive coordinator/wide receivers coach Darrell Wyatt.

Mitchell and Darrell Wyatt both coached previously at Kansas.

Gill previously had hired co-offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Chuck Long, defensive coordinator Carl Torbush and tight ends/special teams coordinator Aaron Stamm.

Considering the circumstances of throwing the staff together quickly, Gill did an admirable job in cobbling together a respected staff that is loaded with recruiting ties throughout the Big 12 area.

The 10 full-time staff members, including Gill, have combined to coach 213 seasons and 72 bowl games at the collegiate level. Four members of the staff -- Long, Torbush, Gill and Shealy -- have spent a combined 15 years as a college head coach.

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