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Subject: Kerfuffle: 5% Probability That Eisgruber Forfeits The Win


Author:
An Observer
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Date Posted: 13:52:43 10/25/21 Mon

Well, well, well, quite a situation we've got here.

An intoxicating confluence of two of our favorite topics in the world of 2021: officiating competence or lack thereof, and what to do to redress wrongs.

The world of sports meets the world of ethics and social policy.

First of all, let's start by saying how delicious it is that the two teams involved are Harvard and Princeton. There's an old saying around Yale that the alumni would rather beat Harvard, the players and students would rather beat Princeton, but the coaches want to beat Dartmouth.

I'm not privy to the inner workings of Tim Murphy's brain, but I'll bet that, of all Harvard's rivals, he most wants to beat Princeton.

Murphy's had a Hall of Fame career or nearly so, and he knows that he's only got a few more laps around the racetrack to post a couple more championships. Who is his biggest obstacle? There's no question that it's Surace and Princeton. Prior nemesis Penn is a shell of its former self without Bagnoli. (See what I did there?) Dartmouth under Teevens and Yale under Reno obviously are major obstacles. But it's Surace who has proven that he can match Murphy on the recruiting trail and perhaps do more with as much, if that literary construction makes sense. I'm quite confident it's Surace that Murphy worries about most.

So that leads us to Saturday. Quite a contest, right? I predicted in our pregame thread last week that the Princeton defense which looked so helpless against EJ Perry and Brown would be better built to counter a Harvard offense which depended on the run. I think that came to pass. (See what I did there?) Who would have predicted that a quarterback who previously completed 25 of 27 passes for four touchdowns would instead throw four interceptions and no touchdowns?

Let's get to the matter at hand: officiating mistakes.

The referees made two mistakes during the third overtime, one a mistake of omission and then a bigger one of commission. They missed Surace screaming for a timeout and then they took Harvard's two points off the scoreboard when the game should have been over and in the record book.

What I love about this kerfuffle is that Harvard partisans are totally comfortable having an on-field mistake of omission *NOT* overturned by an extrajudicial video replay, but now are absolutely in a fit when the off-field mistake of commission is *NOT* overturned by an extrajudicial awarding of victory to Harvard by the League office or by Princeton forfeiting its win.

Sure, that's the technical ruling in the rule book, but we're just dealing with arbitrary distinctions, not principles of fairness or ethics.

Don't get me wrong. If I were a Harvard supporter, I'd be pretty angry as well. I fully concede that. But don't talk to me about "right and wrong." Harvard's claim to a win is just about the fact that the NCAA says certain calls are subject to review and others are not. It's all arbitrary.

There is indisputable video evidence which makes it clear that Surace was out on the field trying desperately to get an official's attention to call time out. Obviously, the zebras missed him. They made a mistake and then tried to fix their first mistake, in the process committing a second, bigger mistake.

So here we are.

There will be continuing cries from certain quarters for Princeton to forfeit its victory. And I think that is a non zero probability outcome. I'd say that there is a 5% chance that Eisgruber will sense either the principle involved or the public relations cost of doing nothing and forfeit the game.

I note that this "problem" for Eisgruber comes only days after he wrote a vacuous puff piece for, I believe, the Washington Post, about the harm that college rankings do for American higher education. Pretty easy to say for the guy running the consensus #1 college in America. Blah blah blah, we've all read the identical puff pieces which came before his. So it's obvious that Eisgruber is not immune to managing both Princeton's and *HIS* personal public image.

Eisgruber is no doubt getting ready for the standard five-year fundraising campaign which marks the culmination of every Ivy president's tenure. He's sensitive to how he looks.

Finally, Michael Valmas. While I am sympathetic to the Cornell-Dartmouth example, it's not a precedent, per se. I won't argue the similarities or differences, as those are apparent. My question is the following:

Why is it always those who have not donned the helmets and sweated in the August heat, those who have not won great victories and suffered painful defeats, those who have not battled through sixty minutes of sweaty football (and five overtimes), who demand that others who have done exactly that, after-the-fact forfeit their victory?

Why is it always those who have not done and achieved, who are so quick to demand the return of trophies and spoils from those who HAVE done and achieved? That's a broader question for the America of 2021.

Like I said, a unique confluence of 2021 topics right here on Ivy League football fields.

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Replies:
[> Subject: Re: Kerfuffle: 5% Probability That Eisgruber Forfeits The Win


Author:
Old Lion (Poor Robin Harris)
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Date Posted: 13:59:40 10/25/21 Mon

How about some sympathy for her worst nightmare coming to pass—-having to chose between Harvard and Princeton. And who can she least afford to infuriate under those circumstances?

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[> [> Subject: IL Commissioner


Author:
ivy guy
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Date Posted: 14:28:09 10/25/21 Mon

This decision is way above Robin Harris's paygrade.
If she has good judgement, she will stay out of the decision-making and "take the bullet" for the decision made by the Presidents.

As we have discussed--to death--the Ivy League is unlike all other major athletic conferences.
The 8 Presidents maintain very close institutional control, and cede very limited authority to the Commissioner.

This is very different than the SEC, ACC or Big 10 where the league office has considerable power and influence over the competitions and participants.

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[> Subject: AO: I really enjoyed reading that. Thank you.


Author:
Valmas (Stimulated)
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Date Posted: 15:32:43 10/25/21 Mon

I'll only add that the so called error of omission was about judgment; and wherever we have mere mortals at work, we'll be witnesses to less than perfect judgment. Only ONE man need exercise less than perfect judgment for it to have adverse impact on the game.
On the other hand, the error of commission was about rules misapplication and misinterpretation. On any given play, only one man needs to fully know a particular rule to ensure that the rule is thus applied correctly in response to such a given play. And so the Ivy League is hard pressed to countenance rules based mistakes-afterall, they're paying seven, eight or nine individuals per event to steer clear of them!

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[> Subject: Thank You, Michael, and "Your Honor, Instruct The Jury That New Evidence Has Been Submitted "


Author:
An Observer
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Date Posted: 18:58:02 10/25/21 Mon

Thank you for the kind words, Michael.

In the best tradition of Calvin doing primary research while the rest of us bloviate and pontificate, here is some language from Page 5 of the 2019 NCAA All Divisions "Instant Replay Coaches Manual."

Limitations on Reviewable Plays
ARTICLE 7. No other plays or officiating decisions are reviewable. However, the replay official may correct egregious errors, including those involving the game clock, whether or not a play is reviewable. This excludes fouls that are not specifically reviewable.

So the Ivy League office and even Erin McDermott, who in all her unsolicited graciousness kicked the game day officials while they were down, should really stop criticizing the referees.

According to the NCAA rules manual, the replay official essentially has what amounts to a "in the best interests of the game" Get Out of Jail Free card to "correct egregious errors" that he believes have affected the game.

I think that's what the guy on Saturday in Princeton Stadium thought he was doing.

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[> [> Subject: Re: Thank You, Michael, and "Your Honor, Instruct The Jury That New Evidence Has Been Submitted "


Author:
sparman
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Date Posted: 19:28:22 10/25/21 Mon

Seems to put a new light on the subject. Surprised no one has cited this rule.

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[> [> Subject: Re: Thank You, Michael, and "Your Honor, Instruct The Jury That New Evidence Has Been Submitted "


Author:
joiseyfan
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Date Posted: 19:54:52 10/25/21 Mon

Also answers the question of why the booth was solely cited in the Ivy statement, which seemed oversimplistic. No matter the immediate chaos onfield (and it was significant) the booth review was both 1) the ONLY possible source of reviewing an unreviewable call and 2) SOLELY capable of changing it, whatever anybody else thought or not.

I do wonder whether that was really the literal intent of writing the rule, but that sure seems to be precisely what it says.

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[> Subject: Re: Kerfuffle: 5% Probability That Eisgruber Forfeits The Win


Author:
cbfan123
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Date Posted: 20:07:42 10/25/21 Mon

Every time someone tells the story, Coach gets further and further onto the fiekd. Coach was located on the 26 yard line, 2 yards from the sideline when trying to “call a timeout”. This is no position of a head coach trying to call a timeout when the ball is located on the 3 yard line. Just watched the video again that a player posted on social media. Plus the noise of the crowd at that moment would have made it impossible to hear a timeout being yelled from his positioning. The excuse of “we should’ve been granted a timeout” does not work.

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[> [> Subject: Also, active players and enter substitutes can request a team timeout. prior to the snap.


Author:
Valmas (Salty)
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Date Posted: 20:53:02 10/25/21 Mon

When the ball's on the 3 yard line; and most of the officials have their backs to the coaches; and the crowd noise won't permit normal verbal communication to occur, Bob Surface can still motion his face-to-face defensive captain; telling him to find the nearest official and request a timeout.

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[> Subject: Response From The Ivy League Office and the NCAA


Author:
An Observer
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Date Posted: 14:39:45 11/04/21 Thu

What have we learned over the years from Calvin? Always go to the primary source, or as close as you can get.

So that's what I've been working on. Here's what I've got.

Nobody at the Ivy League office will say a thing about the Harvard-Princeton game. It's crickets chirping over there. Now I don't want to leap to any conclusions prematurely, but silence from any party in any controversy does not inspire confidence that they want to defend their actions. To be fair, dealing with fans is probably a part of their jobs they would be happy to discard from time to time.

The NCAA was initially very helpful, though now less so. Too early to know if this is a policy, or just busy people who have better things to do. Here's what I've been able to piece together.

(1) The NCAA is very, very familiar with what happened at the end of the Harvard-Princeton game. They are on top of this situation.

(2) The NCAA very much wants to define a timeout as granted when an onfield official begins any physical motion of his arms overhead to signal a stoppage of play. The NCAA wants this physical act to mark a timeout so that, consistent with the current kerfuffle, it can be reviewed by instant replay.

(3) Specifically, the NCAA is trying to avoid a situation where, immediately before an important play, a head coach quietly or discreetly signals for a timeout without being recognized by an official. He then waits to see whether the play is beneficial to his team before drawing attention to his request and asking for a replay.

That is clearly not what Surace was doing as the NCAA was able to describe to me in detail his exact path onto the field of play in his attempt to call timeout. Nobody disputes that Surace was trying hard to get the attention of the officials.

(4) Because of points (2) and (3) above, the NCAA supports the Ivy League's position that Surace's timeout request should not have been granted retroactively.

(5) It's much less clear whether the NCAA supports the Ivy League office issuing a formal statement on Sunday, October 24. The NCAA does not want to change any game result after the final whistle has been blown. Indeed, the NCAA was clear any statement that Harvard "should have" or "would have" won the game is inappropriate, even though we know that, in the absence of Surace being granted a timeout, the third overtime period would have ended with Harvard ahead.

(6) Despite how the NCAA wants to define the moment that a timeout has been granted (when an official starts the upward movement of his arms), there is no language in the rule book which appears to supersede Article 7, which states that the instant replay official is entitled to "correct obvious errors that may have a significant impact on the outcome of the game."

(7) Although Article 7 clearly supports what the instant replay official did in the game, the officiating crew was reprimanded and punished.

So I think we have conflicting principles here. The narrow principle is that a timeout is only granted when an onfield official signals for the timeout. The broader principle is that the NCAA wants to get calls correct and has bestowed broad authority onto the instant replay official to make that happen.

A lawyer who was given the NCAA rule book and videotape of the game would be very likely to adjudicate this conflict in favor of Princeton. The letter of the law in the rule book is Article 7, which says that the instant replay official is the last line of defense in getting calls right. His job is to "correct obvious errors."

But the NCAA also does not want to go down the slippery slope of giving coaches any more leeway in claiming that they have asked for a timeout.

That is what I have been able to discern so far. I can see both sides of the issue, but clearly one side of the argument has a stronger case.

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[> [> Subject: Re: Response From The Ivy League Office and the NCAA


Author:
ivy guy
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Date Posted: 15:31:26 11/04/21 Thu

A simple rule change would allow one coach from each team (likely the HC) to stand outside the sideline box for all 3+ OT situations.

This would allow the coach to position themselves at the line of scrimmage and more easily communicate with the line judge for a time-out.

Even this accommodation would be imperfect, but could have avoided the issue at the end of the Harvard-Princeton game.

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[> [> Subject: Re: Response From The Ivy League Office and the NCAA


Author:
sparman
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Date Posted: 15:38:05 11/04/21 Thu

I was hoping someone would take the bull by the horns. Thanks.

It sounds like the NCAA has realized that the rule, as written and read literally, does not accomplish what the NCAA now wants it to accomplish. I will give them benefit of doubt that this was an inadvertent, or at least unforeseen, drafting error on their part for not having carefully thought through all the scenarios. But given the NCAA's consistent approach of ducking responsibility, as evidenced by meting out discipline to officials who merely applied the clear language of the rule as written by the NCAA, I also expect them to phrase whatever "clarification" they issue so as to minimize their own culpability.

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[> [> [> Subject: Re: Response From The Ivy League Office and the NCAA


Author:
Leonlion
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Date Posted: 17:25:07 11/04/21 Thu

Doesn’t the rule as written refer to participant action on the field of play which, arguably, does not include a coach -- unseen by officials on the field of play – calling a time out? An unseen timeout “request” on the sideline outweighs actual play on the field?

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[> [> [> [> Subject: Re: Response From The Ivy League Office and the NCAA


Author:
sparman
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Date Posted: 19:42:46 11/04/21 Thu

Here is the text of the rule:

"ARTICLE 7. No other plays or officiating decisions are reviewable. However, the replay official may correct egregious errors, including those involving the game clock, whether or not a play is reviewable. This excludes fouls that are not specifically reviewable (See Article 8, following)."

Which part are you interpreting as referring solely to participant action on the field?

I read "errors including those involving the play clock" (which is a subset of all errors that are correctable by the replay official) as including errors with the clock for any reason, among them errors attributable to time out issues.

Perhaps you might argue faIlure to grant a properly called time out is not egregious, but that seems like a judgment call, not a black and white prohibition.

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[> [> [> Subject: Re: Response From The Ivy League Office and the NCAA


Author:
joiseyfan
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Date Posted: 19:37:39 11/04/21 Thu

No, it doesn’t. Yes, it can. Read it.

https://www.ncaapublications.com/productdownloads/FR21.pdf

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[> Subject: Re: Kerfuffle: 5% Probability That Eisgruber Forfeits The Win


Author:
Ivy Inquisitor (Refreshing?)
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Date Posted: 20:38:01 11/04/21 Thu

Compared to 2020 is it not refreshing to be debating NCAA charter over a game deciding blown call? Giving Princeton a 5% percent chance of forfeiting is a overestimate. I see the only possibly of that happening is if it won't affect the outcome of their season. I expected them to not to engage on this topic.If their obligated to respond it Will likely be the standard Candy Ass statement " We won't forfeit because it Will debase the game and compromise the officials credibility ". Will they forfeit and share the title? I guess it's possible but it will be a cold day in hell.

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[> [> Subject: Re: Kerfuffle: 5% Probability That Eisgruber Forfeits The Win


Author:
Tad
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Date Posted: 14:48:50 11/05/21 Fri

Strange that the officials had no problem spotting Murphy’s subsequent last minute request for a time out.

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[> [> [> Subject: Re: Kerfuffle: 5% Probability That Eisgruber Forfeits The Win


Author:
Ivy Inquisitor
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Date Posted: 21:19:34 11/05/21 Fri

That 5 % probability is now zero.

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[> Subject: Re: Kerfuffle: 5% Probability That Eisgruber Forfeits The Win


Author:
An Observer
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Date Posted: 17:26:00 11/15/21 Mon

The 5% probability is indeed now zero. The only scenario which would have kept it above zero is Harvard and Princeton both winning out. I would have loved the continuing kerfuffle of a 10-0 Princeton and 9-1 Harvard bickering over this one for the rest of time.

By the way, no more return calls from the NCAA. They've gone silent, too, just like the League office.

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[> Subject: Have Finally Succeeded in Reaching A Television Rules Analyst


Author:
An Observer
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Date Posted: 00:17:13 12/24/21 Fri

I have been trying for some time to reach any one of the college football rules analysts that we watch on television for their take on the Harvard-Princeton kerfuffle. It hasn't been easy, but I've finally gotten through to somebody who was willing to share his opinion.

As a courtesy to him, as I did with the NCAA official I contacted, I will decline to name him, only to say that you hear his name and voice on television every Saturday in the fall.

To summarize my dialogue with him, there is no new information.

He started with a good overview by calling the Princeton-Harvard game "an unfortunate situation" that "will be debated" by officials and the teams involved alike.

To fit his opinion within the framework which we have already discussed, here is his "take":

(1) It's a terrible idea to let coaches ask for a time-out after a play has been run, for all the reasons which we have already discussed on this board. The example which this analyst hypothesized is one that we have debated here: What do you do if Harvard fails in its two-point conversion attempt? Let Harvard try another one because Surace called time-out before the snap?

(2) While it's a terrible idea to let coaches ask for a time out after a play has been run, there is no rule in the NCAA rule book forbidding this.

(3) Because this is not expressly addressed by the NCAA rule book, this situation is a judgment call for the officials at the game.

(4) My respondent pointedly said, "Just because the rule book doesn't specifically say you can't do something doesn't mean you can do something."

(5) If you're going to go by the letter of the law, nothing in the NCAA rule book supersedes Article 7. And we know what Article 7 says.

So there you have it. Again.

It's "an unfortunate situation" all right. Except for those of us who find it to be the most entertaining thing to come out of the 2021 season. Maybe any season. Long live the kerfuffle!

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[> [> Subject: Re: Have Finally Succeeded in Reaching A Television Rules Analyst


Author:
sparman
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Date Posted: 08:32:47 12/24/21 Fri

Thanks for bird dogging this. Three comments:

1) Surace was not calling a timeout after the play, he was calling it before the play was run. As for the effect of allowing a timeout, it's no worse than when a coach tries to call a time out an instant before a kicker kicks, or a key final play is being run and the defense wants to see what offensive set is being used. Of course it is SOP to see a play begin and the refs run in to stop it for things like illegal procedure, or for that matter when an offensive penalty is enforced after a play is completed but must be re-run. Not to mention the entire point of replay is allow the possibility of running a play over again, depending upon the situation.

2) Yes, had Harvard's attempt failed, they should have been given another chance. I don't think anyone from the Princeton side has argued for inconsistent application of the rule.

3) This is not a case of doing something the rulebook fails to say you cannot do, rather it is a case of doing something the rulebook expressly says you (the replay offical) CAN do.

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[> [> [> Subject: Re: Have Finally Succeeded in Reaching A Television Rules Analyst


Author:
sparman
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Date Posted: 08:39:21 12/24/21 Fri

Meant to say the "point of allowing challenges and replay", not just "point of replay".

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[> [> Subject: Re: Have Finally Succeeded in Reaching A Television Rules Analyst


Author:
Two Cents
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Date Posted: 09:22:52 12/24/21 Fri

Thanks for following up on this. So did the rules expert feel the timeout should have been given to Surace via a replay review?

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[> [> Subject: Re: Have Finally Succeeded in Reaching A Television Rules Analyst


Author:
2-cents worth
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Date Posted: 10:27:12 12/24/21 Fri

Whatever happens, get that ridiculous Option #2, deciding a 60-munute tie game with a 2-yard,fourth down play.

Regular game ends in tie: Start each team at the 40 yard line, with one timeout and clock set on 2-mimutes.

Limit 2 attempts; no result is tie, like it or not.

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[> [> [> Subject: Re: Have Finally Succeeded in Reaching A Television Rules Analyst


Author:
Watkins
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Date Posted: 19:26:39 12/26/21 Sun

I agree with Two Cents Worth that the dueling two-point conversion attempts are akin to penalty kicks in soccer, entertaining to be sure, but no longer the sport which was played in regulation time.

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[> Subject: Re: Kerfuffle: 5% Probability That Eisgruber Forfeits The Win


Author:
Tiger69
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Date Posted: 10:44:53 12/24/21 Fri

How about simply ending OTs altogether and allowing ties going forward or, if we must have OTs, limiting them to two before a tie is declared.

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