Friday, July 29, 2011

Pink loves Bama: Victoria’s Secret sexy line of Bama gear (with snark)

image Ladies’ sports merchandise is a growing market among top apparel and specialty merchandisers. Victoria’s Secret has had a complete line of “Pink” merchandise for professional sports leagues for years and has delved into the college athletics apparel market.

One of the first lines of school themed apparel for SEC schools was (of course) the gorgeous, flattering and totally sexy color combination of Crimson and White, as shown in the image to the right.

Click it to visit the page (there is no remuneration to IBCR for visiting the site or buying merchandise, but don’t let that stop you if you’re so inclined).

Apparently though, not all SEC schools are represented. A quick search of the online catalog shows that there are lines of apparel for Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, LSU and Tennessee.

Missing are South Carolina, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Vanderbilt and (of course) Auburn.

Not to worry, though. Sources tell IBCR that AU is on this like duck on a june bug. They are in negotiations to secure a line of apparel and get it in Victoria’s Secret online inventory by opening day. Insider Danny Sheridan says the price range is $180,000 to $200,000 and it might be available “in two weeks.”

We’ll keep you posted.

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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Kickin’ it at kiosks in malls

Dammit. Friends of the Program scooped me. What’s worse, they got it first AND got it right.

But I got it better!

If you’re going to claim that you’ve obtained a picture of the kiosk in the center of the Tuscaloosa Mall, and you’re gonna claim that the photograph is slam dunk evidence that players knowingly traded signatures for like… 10 suits or something, wouldn’t you have someone check out the mall and compare it to the photograph? I mean, just to make sure it’s not another mall like… 45 miles away?

We did. IBCR’s crack team of photographic investigative journalists were on this case all afternoon and have produced shocking new evidence that Clay Travis wouldn’t know New York City if he bumped his head on the Golden Gate Bridge.

The allegedly incriminating photo:


A photo taken smack dab in the middle of University Mall in Tuscaloosa, compliments of @ChrisHillD28. Hmm. Something looks odd here, Watson. The lighting is different. The promenade looks smaller. The floor tile texture and layout looks… different.


Undeterred, IBCR had @NailPhyl drive all the way from IBCR HQ in Slap Out, Alabama to another large mall in that part of the state: the famed Riverchase Galleria Mall in suburban Birmingham. Guess what Nail Phyl found, and photographed:


Interesting floor pattern, eh? Here’s another shot from smack dab in the middle of University Mall Riverchase Galleria Mall in suburban Birmingham, 45 miles away from the kiosk that players should have been able to walk right by and see their jerseys on sale:


Yowsers. Look at that flooring! But wait! There’s more! Look at the kiosks! With green barn T-shirts for sale.

Nail Phyl refused to approach the kiosk in question for fear that the owner might have approached him to get signatures on some of the barn memorabilia. Nail Phyl is a person of high moral character and good judgment, and would never falsely or fraudulently manufacture evidence that gets Auburn in trouble.

We’re Bama fans. We don’t play that way.

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Credibility Kicked Out

image Late yesterday afternoon, the University of Alabama released a statement on the T-Town Menswear issue, an issue created by Clay Travis’ start-up website, Travis, a Vanderbilt grad and Tennessee fan, is the author of two popular books on the culture of college football in the Southeast and the host of a sports radio talk show in Nashville. Last Friday, the site had breathlessly “reported” on what appeared to be a questionable relationship between the clothing store owner and several former and current Alabama Football Players.

In his zeal to get the story first, he failed to get the story right. In doing so, he kicked his credibility right out of the park.

We now know that the “reporting” consisted of the site’s owner regurgitating a series of photographs sent from members of a popular Auburn University fansite and lifted from the store’s Facebook page by the Auburn board’s membership. While the photographs appeared to raise improper benefit questions of the tenor seen in the recent Ohio State tattoo scandal, all were older photos stemming from the 2009 and 2010 football seasons.

Accompanying the statement released late yesterday, the University of Alabama also released a letter delivered to the store owner on March 31, 2011, disassociating him from the University’s athletics program for a period of three years. The University had previously released a statement and had also said that it had issued a cease and desist order to the store in December 2010. Both statements and both letters indicate that the University independently became aware of potential NCAA compliance issues related to the store’s display of sports memorabilia many months before Travis and his Auburn “sources” did. They investigated the matter and took appropriate corrective action. The University has said that it found no violations, that none of the student-athletes depicted in the photographs had affected their eligibility and had not determined that Al-Betar was a “representative of the athletics program’s interests,” i.e., a “booster.” Yet, out of an abundance of caution, the University disassociated the store owner anyway and said that it was continuing to monitor the situation. Since there were no violations found, no report was transmitted to the Southeastern Conference or the NCAA, but the University has said that it did coordinate with the SEC during its probe.

Barring the most improbable turn of events that would lead to additional information, the professional news organizations are closing the book and moving on.

Travis has said that following an earlier posting that reported on NCAA investigators visiting Montgomery in connection with ongoing probes of Auburn recruiting, Auburn fans had inundated him with emails and twitter messages containing the photographs. The messages included bare allegations that Alabama football players had gotten into trouble through their association with the clothing store’s owner, Tom Al-Betar. According to Travis, he had read the emails in the wee hours of Friday morning following a Thursday night party celebrating the launch of his website.

Instead of taking the time to investigate the facts and instead of contacting the University of Alabama, the former football players and the store owner and interviewing them for a potentially huge story, Travis ran with the unsubstantiated allegations and published the photographs. Developments yesterday now show that to be a monumental failure of judgment.

OKTC is in full meltdown, today. Travis has uploaded shrill ramblings and is accusing the Athletic Department of participating in a massive coverup scheme. When you get to the bottom of a deep hole, it’s usually not a good idea to keep digging. His latest post purports to depict jerseys for sale outside T-Town Menswear at University Mall in Tuscaloosa. The only problem is, that kiosk appears to be just outside of the Bama Fever store at Riverchase Galleria Mall in Birmingham. Unless Travis has the goods on that store too, it looks like judgment has failed him again.

Last month, this blog featured a column on the demise of the local investigative sports journalist. Here’s a snippet from that piece:

Earlier this week, I had a brief conversation with a senior staff member at one of the state’s major daily newspapers. I won’t say which one because frankly, the man is a complete professional and 100% newshound. I don’t want to risk outing or embarrassing him for speaking frankly with a blogger.

One thing was very clear—He’s not any happier than you are about his desk being unable to get the story first, but his professionalism demands that he get the story right.  He’d prefer to get it right and get it first but if he is forced to choose between the two, he’s going with getting it right. I admire that because as a blogger, credibility is lifeblood. I’d love for you to read it here first, but I’m really concerned over your ability to take what you read here to the bank. That’s why you will never see this blog float anything like that Brent Calloway story that’s Jeffery Lee ran with several weeks ago.

You can add the T-Town Menswear story as another example of what you won’t see here. The T-Town Menswear story doesn’t get broken by professional news organizations. Their standards—including double or corroborated sourcing, editorial and policy review and legal review—would simply never permit such bare allegations as those raised Friday to be published. The problem here is that professional news organizations are competing for circulation with people possessing neither the ability nor the willingness to determine fact from fantasy.

I don’t have the resources of a professional news organization. But out of the same abundance of caution exercised by the University of Alabama, I’m going to go as far as I can to find the truth and bring it here.

This blog receives tips on a daily basis. Some of the juicier tidbits turn out to be dead ends. Sometimes, seemingly trivial tips lead to other information being developed and truthfully reported. As a blogger, it’s always satisfying when your shocker ends up being verified by professional news organizations. But that only happens when you are certain of the facts and Travis was certain of nothing.

Some bloggers understand their responsibility to their readers. Some don’t. But sooner or later, both flavors will be judged by the answer to this Exit Question: “Can I really trust this guy?”

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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Alabama Compliance releases statement regarding clothing store, finds no violations, disassociates owner anyway

Per @IzzyGould on Twitter:

“Alabama has released a statement addressing recent inquiries of T-Town Menswear and its owner.”

“From Alabama associate AD for compliance Mike Ward: ‘We found no evidence that any student-athlete received any extra benefits.’ ”

“Alabama also sent a copy of a disassociation letter sent to Albetar. An Alabama source confirms he was never deemed a booster. “

Per @CecilHurt on Twitter:

UA release: Albetar disassociated last March. No evidence of NCAA violation. More to come at

Clearly, this is about as unlike the the Ohio State memorabilia case as it could possibly be. There is absolutely no indication here that someone from Alabama attempted to deceive compliance officials or hide an improper benefits relationship.

UPDATE: Full Story at Tuscaloosa News. Gotta love these MONEY QUOTES from the former Bama players.

"He never tried to approach me during football or tried to do anything like that while I was still eligible," McElroy said. "My only dealings with him were all legal. I organized a signing with him through my marketing people, once I was done and my eligibility was complete. He was fine - he paid the right amount, and we organized a signing to benefit my foundation."

Former UA defensive end Luther Davis, who signed a free-agent contract with the Buffalo Bills Tuesday as an undrafted rookie, said he purchased the only suits he ever owned at Alabama from Al Betar, and paid for them in full.

"I probably have two, maybe three suits in my whole closet. I bought those within my first two years of being at Bama," Davis said. "To my understanding, he's just a very proud fan, maybe he was overzealous with being a fan. I think I may have taken a picture or two with him."

Asked why some UA players may have frequented the store, McElroy said: "Tom can always see from his store into the mall, he can see people as they walk by because of where his counter is located, so I'm sure he calls out. ... They go in there because they're walking through the mall. You go into shops. You look around. There is nothing corrupt about it."

Exit Question: Why would the school find the store to be in compliance, but send a cease and desist letter and three months later, disassociate the owner? Answer: “Abundance of Caution.” 

Monday, July 25, 2011

BAMBI gives Clay Travis a Thumper?

Clay Travis, owner of the recent upstart website,, has recently written several blog posts discussing Alabama football players and their clothes. We aren't really sure why Clay is so obsessed with the attire of Alabama football players, but he does seem to have a hard-on for the young men of Alabama and their fashion.
One would think that because of Clay's obsession with young men and their clothing, he would have been the one to do the initial digging into the issue. Well, he wasn't. It was the Bunker, aka BAMBI (Bureau of Auburn Message Board Investigators). Apparently the Bunker, and its many BAMBI agents, all share Clay's obsession with young Alabama men and their clothes. You can clearly see from these message board screenshots exactly where the plan was hatched and the information discovered...

This post from the Bunker was made on July 21, 2011, which is prior to Clay Travis' first article published about the Alabama football player's clothing habits.

So, how does a message board post get all the way up the ladder to such an esteemed blog as Mr. Travis’ Well, you’re in luck. Through our double secret agents deep within BAMBI, we have received the actual transcript of the Google chat conversation between one BAMBI agent and Clay Travis.
Begin transcript
BAMBI agent: Hey, Clay. We have a HUGE story about Alabama. You interested in breaking it?
Clay: I'm listening.
BAMBI agent: Well it appears a black football player at the University of Alabama has a lot of clothes.
Clay: Seriously? A BLACK football player has a lot of clothes?
BAMBI agent: YES! Can you believe it?
Clay: How can we prove it?
BAMBI agent: we have pictures of him in LOTS OF DIFFERENT CLOTHES.
Clay: Can you send me the pictures right away?
BAMBI agent: ygm
Clay: Oh, wow! JACK POT BABY!!! Wow, there are so many clothes. This is unreal. There is no way a black Alabama football player can have that many clothes.
BAMBI agent: I know, right? Glad we’re on the same wavelength. He’s got to be cheating.
Clay: We’ve got to expose this. The NCAA must find out about this! We have a duty to keep blacks from owning this many clothes and I’ll make damn sure I’m on top of these young men exposing this as hard as I can.
BAMBI agent: Excellent, Clay. If we come across any more pictures of young black Alabama men in clothes, we’ll shove your inbox full of our stuff.
Clay: Shove away!
End of transcript.

Gimme some feedback in the comments.

Outkicking the Coverage

In the game of football, outkicking the coverage is a busted special teams play in which the kicker or punter kicks the ball too low and too fast for his coverage team to keep up with it. This lets the receiving team organize a more effective return, often leading to game changing plays.



Whoops. Looks like somebody outkicked their coverage. Sorta like a bad lawyer asking the witness a question without already knowing the answer.

Helmet tap to @HunterLJohnson for the pic.

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Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Dark Side of Social Media and College Athletics

image Earlier today IBCR featured a column on the difficulties of enforcing NCAA rules and monitoring social media networking technology such as Twitter and Facebook.There is significant potential for rules violations that could get schools in trouble and affect the eligibility of a student-athlete, and there is a high likelihood that ordinary fans don’t have any idea that they are actually harming their school by trying to help.

Everyone should just leave recruiting to the coaches authorized to make contact with prospects.

But in doing the research homework leading up to the earlier post, IBCR found a Dark Side of student-athlete and prospect engagement on Twitter, Facebook and other social media networks.

Recall the hypothetical scenario of a top college football prospect with active Twitter and Facebook accounts. But instead of having naive but well-meaning fans and boosters inadvertently breaking NCAA rules by encouraging him to enroll at their favorite school, there are fans who know the rules quite well and who know exactly what they’re doing. They’re setting out to “poison the well” by pretending to be representatives of the rival athletics program’s interest. In other instances found by IBCR, rival fans have exploited the fact that a prospect or student-athlete has not yet created a Twitter or Facebook account, created a fictitious one, and promptly began sending out embarrassing updates.

In one case, an obviously fake account for a high profile current student-athlete purported to show the student-athlete holding a large amount of cash. In another, the fake account bragged of acquiring an expensive new vehicle. In yet another, several Twitter accounts purporting to be fans of one school actually turned out to be operated by fans of a heated rival, who bragged about their own exploits on an “insider’s” message board. In the 2011 recruitment of at least two prospective student-athletes, what appeared to be the accounts of fans of one school turned out to be fans of another, and the operators of those accounts openly and brazenly campaigned for the prospect to sign with the rival school with fake offers of impermissible benefits that included jewelry, electronics and suggesting sexual favors might be gained (ed note: Under advice of counsel, the student-athletes, schools and prospects will not be named here and all information has been forwarded to the schools’ compliance offices, the NCAA and the conference compliance offices).

How in the world does a compliance office wrap its arms around that?

Jon Solomon’s article in today’s Birmingham News highlights the start-up of Centrix Social, a firm with software technology designed to mine for and identify these types of activities and alert school officials when something appears to be a problem. While that technology holds the promise of knowing early-on that foul play is afoot, there doesn’t appear to be a way to actually prevent that from happening, short of the draconian measures of preventing student-athletes from using Social Media—a step with significant implications on free speech and conjuring up notions of “Big Brother” invading and limiting the freedom of student-athletes to associate. Even more problematic is the fact that the school has no control whatsoever over a prospect’s access to social media.

With no way to prevent Dark Side offenders from trying to poison the well, and no readily available means of positively identifying offenders or punishing them, the Dark Side appears to be a much more difficult problem to tackle. Compliance offices with effective programs of social media monitoring and education of fans and student-athletes will, hopefully, make it much easier to spot Dark Side offenders. As monitoring programs grow in capability and confidence in their intelligence gathering activities, the likelihood of a successful Dark Side effort should diminish over time. But programs with smaller budgets and understaffed offices may find it harder to separate the instances where corrective action is effective and those cases where an incorrigible rival is trying to make problems.

Social media is here to stay. So are both the people who don’t know they’re causing harm, and the people who know exactly what they’re doing. We’re watching…

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook, but only if you are NOT a prospective student-athlete.

The NCAA tries tackling Twitter and Facebook

image Imagine this scenario. A top college football prospect has both a Twitter account a Facebook page. He posts often on his Facebook and tweets just as frequently. His accounts are “open,” meaning anyone can follow and contact him. The fans of one of the schools he is considering decide to “help” him make his decision. So they start a Facebook fan page, addressing the prospect by name and inviting fans to post messages of support and encouraging him to sign with their school. They also post messages to his “wall,” extolling the virtues of their family atmosphere and telling him how great it would be if he signed with their school. Separately, another group of fans of the same school start a Twitter hashtag chain, again addressing him by name, and again inviting other users to help persuade him to choose their alma mater.

The NCAA is ramping up the daunting task of ensuring that universities, coaches fans and boosters don’t run afoul of the league’s recruiting rules by jacking into social media technology. Prospective student-athletes are using Twitter, Facebook, Myspace and Youtube just like 17-19 year olds do. They’re staying connected with friends and family and interacting with the public in a rapidly growing cultural phenomenon. But the social media landscape is rich for potential rules violations and, in at least one case, a school has already been cited for “failure to monitor”  after an Enforcement investigation found instances of impermissible behavior.

I was saving this post for publication later this week, but Solomon’s excellent column in today’s Birmingham News has ripened the topic a bit early.

Let’s get some ground rules out of the way.

  • NCAA Regulations
    The University is responsible for insuring that its various constituencies (e.g., University staff and faculty, coaches, student-athletes, alumni and friends) abide by NCAA rules and regulations. Under NCAA rules, all alumni, friends and employees of the University are categorized as "representatives of the University's athletics interests."
  • Representatives of a University's Athletics Interests - Who is a representative of the University’s athletics interests (i.e., a "booster")?
    NCAA Bylaw 13.02.11 defines the term "booster." In part, the rule states: 
    "A booster (i.e., representative of the institution's athletics interests) is an individual, independent agency, corporate entity (e.g. apparel or equipment manufacturer) or other organization who is known (or who should have known) by a member of the institution's executive or athletics administration to:
    • Have participated in or to be a member of an agency or organization promoting the institution's intercollegiate athletics program;
    • Have made financial contributions to the athletics department or to an athletics booster organization of that institution;
    • Be assisting or to have been requested (by the athletics department staff) to assist in the recruitment of prospects;
    • Be assisting or to have assisted in providing benefits to enrolled student-athletes or their families; or
    • Have been involved otherwise in promoting the institution's athletics program.
    The NCAA stipulates that once an individual has been identified as a "representative" of the University's athletics programs, the individual retains this status forever. This is true even if the individual no longer contributes to the athletics program.
  • The emphasized statement above casts a wide net, especially in the age of blogs, message boards, Twitter, Facebook and other social media and networking technology. For example, IBCR is a blog that features content on college sports, NCAA compliance matters, current events and politics. But there is also a lot of material here that would be interpreted as “promoting the athletics program” of the University of Alabama. Technically, the authors of the blog posts here would most likely be interpreted to be Alabama “boosters.”

    But where is the bottom of this slippery slope? Would a frequent poster on a fansite’s message board be considered a “booster?” How about someone on Twitter with an avatar and page background prominently featuring a particular university’s athletic program, and who regularly posts Tweets promoting the individual’s favorite team? If that individual has attended games, has season tickets, graduated, attended or currently attends classes at the school or has made financial contributions, the answer is a slam dunk “yes.” But what about a Tweep who just loves the school and the team so much, they can’t help but be “all in?”

    Another grey area and potential source of violations are the so-called “recruiting services” that combine information about recruits and recruiting with content favorable to the school they are associated with AND have message boards and chat rooms dominated by the fans of that school. Would the operators/employees of that site be classified as “media,” or “boosters?”

    Define any of these people as a “booster” and the potential to pile up NCAA violations regarding contact with prospective student-athletes is staggering.

    Several schools are being proactive in addressing these issues. In conducting some research for this post, IBCR reached out to several compliance officers at schools in various parts of the country. What follows is an amalgam of advice being given by schools to fans and boosters in the form of do’s and don’t’s:

    1. THINK BEFORE YOU TWEET! Breaking NCAA rules can render prospects and student-athletes ineligible for competition at the University you support.  The NCAA holds the University accountable for the actions of fans and friends. In some cases, impermissible fan/booster behavior will cause the school to cease recruitment of the prospective student-athlete.
    2. You MAY NOT make recruiting contacts with prospects, relatives, legal guardians or “mentors.”  This prohibition includes written and telephone communications and social media networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook.
    3. You MAY NOT contact a prospect via social media and encourage them to enroll at the school you support, even if you don’t think you qualify under the definition of the term “booster.” Assume that you meet that definition and avoid contacting prospects.
    4. You MAY NOT contact a prospect’s coach, principal, or counselor in an attempt to evaluate the prospect.
    5. You MAY NOT become involved in arranging for a prospect, a student-athlete, their family or high school coaches to receive gifts, money or financial benefits of any kind. This includes organizing or participating in the creation of fan sites designed to raise money or collect donations of any items of value.
    6. You MAY NOT provide transportation to a prospect, student-athlete or their friends and family.
    7. You MAY NOT spend funds to entertain prospects, student-athletes or their friends and family.
    8. You MAY send newspaper clippings and other information about talented prospects to the coaches at your institution.
    9. You MAY continue established relationships with friends and neighbors whose children are prospects or current student-athletes, provided the relationship pre-dates reaching prospect status and is not based on their status as an athlete.

    Boosters are subject to very strict limitations on their contact with prospective student-athletes. Only the authorized coaches may recruit on behalf of the institution. This promotes competitive equity by ensuring that every program has the same number of people available to recruit for their program. Boosters are not permitted to recruit prospective student-athletes on behalf of the institution. These limitations extend to social media.

    Unfortunately, the fanbases of many large FBS programs aren’t getting the memo. The Facebook walls and Twitter timelines of prospects are slap full of potential NCAA recruiting violations.

    It is a violation of NCAA rules for a booster to contact a prospective student-athlete by Twitter or Facebook to encourage them to attend their favorite school. It is also impermissible for boosters or fans to create or organize a fan page or Twitter hashtag chain in order to encourage a specific prospect to attend their school. A Facebook fan page called “State Fans Love Johnny Linebacker” is against the rules. So too is participating or organizing a “#Tigers4Jake” Twitter hashtag chain. Because the institution is held responsible for the conduct of its boosters, doing so would require the University to self-report a violation of NCAA rules, and could result in the school ceasing its recruitment of the prospect.

    In the hypothetical scenario leading off this column, the school would do just that. It would be forced to self-report a violation of impermissible contact and break off recruiting contact. That increases the likelihood that the prospective student-athlete signs with the hated rival of the school that the fans were promoting. Congratulations, zealots. You just pushed a potential future Heisman Trophy winner and leader of a National Championship contender right into the arms of your most despised rival. That would totally suck, wouldn’t it?

    Later today, the Dark Side of social media and college athletics.

    And naturally, you should only follow me on Twitter and Facebook if you are NOT a prospective Student Athlete.

    Did Chris Landry Call Auburn a Crime Syndicate?

    Chris Landry is a veteran NFL Scout, owns Scouting Consulting, a business that provides scouting consultation for NFL teams, helps universities and the NFL in coaching searches, and you can hear him on FOX Sports Radio as their college football and NFL analyst. One particular segment from the Petros and Money show on May, 30th involved an interesting question from one of the hosts where he wanted to know if the Ohio State incident was isolated or widespread throughout all of college football. Landry went into a nearly two and a half minute analysis of what the NCAA expected out of it's member institutions. Check out this excerpt:

    "I do think that the NCAA is really concerned about a couple of things, and we saw this with USC, lack of institutional control. You see, the NCAA, they want their schools...because the NCAA IS it's member institutions, they want the schools to police themselves and when they do NOT police themselves, when they clearly have major pro...they're not...believe it or not, people don't believe this, but they're not concerned, eh, they'd never say this, they are not concerned if a guy goes and he gets a free meal and somebody picks up the tab."

    "The problem is, when you have, like you had at Auburn, where you have Bobby Lowder, who ran the big bank there, and they were funneling money and it was like, you know, it was organized crime. You know, they are not concerned, I hate to use this term, they're not concerned with the "drug users", they're concerned about the "drug dealer" that's smuggling it into the country. Well, they, that's what they want to get. They want to make sure you are policing yourself as best you can, knowing full well you can't control if some kid goes out for a meal tonight and gets it free. But if there's a, you know, pipeline, and you got, you know, they're all going to this car dealership, or this place and that place and getting a lot of free stuff, and it's organized, that is really what they are going to hammer you on, and..and uh, that's where I think the programs get into some real trouble."

    Wait a second. One more time. "The problem is, when you have, like you HAD at Auburn, where you have Bobby Lowder, who ran the big bank there, and they WERE funneling money and it was like, you know, it WAS organized crime." I find it interesting how he talks so non-nonchalantly about money laundering and organized crime at Auburn University as if it's common knowledge. I don't recall any major media outlet releasing any story about Bobby Lowder running an organized crime syndicate out of the loveliest village on the plains.

    You can download the podcast here. Things get interesting around the 9:30 mark.

    Exit question: Was this example from actual information or was it tongue in cheek?

    Helmet Tap to @ThePointnLaugh. We didn’t realize he’d found this already.

    Friday, July 22, 2011

    Brent Calloway Speaks Out

    The state's top 2011 prospect talks about his recruitment, academics and controversy

    At about the 2:30 mark, Calloway talks about the reaction from Auburn fans after he signed his letter of intent to go to Alabama. Scary stuff.


    Helmet tap to Crimson Elephant for the video embed.

    TresselPalooza Bombshell: Now it looks like the school lied to NCAA, too (Updated with tOSU statement)

    image Folks, this is the kind of stuff that gets a school duck-taped to the wall and left as an example of how not to conduct your affairs. According to a report from WBNS TV in Ohio, Former Ohio State Buckeyes Coach Jim Tressel had informed school officials—including the athletic director and university president—that he was aware of the improper benefits scandal that cost him his career in December.

    School officials had told the NCAA that it wasn’t aware of Tressel’s attempted coverup until January, and put that in a written response to the NCAA’s Notice of Allegations.

    The school wasn’t cited for lack of institutional control or failure to monitor, two violations that typically carry harsh penalties. Ohio State wanted the NCAA to believe that the five game suspension already imposed, a vacation of the entire 2010 season and the hari kiri of Tressel would be enough to satisfy the NCAA gods.

    But now you’ve got failure to monitor possibly in the mix, and counts of unethical behavior thrown in for good measure. Most reasonable analysts thought Ohio State’s measly offering of voluntary sanctions would be laughed out of the Committee on Infractions hearing next month. That appears a near certainty now, and Buckeye fans can look forward to a long, painful period of wandering through the wilderness.

    From the WBNS story:

    Multiple sources told 10 Investigates' Paul Aker that Tressel claimed he verbally disclosed the tip he received about his players' involvement with tattoo shop owner Ed Rife around Dec. 16 to compliance director Doug Archie, Julie Vannatta, Ohio State's senior assistant general counsel, and perhaps others.

    10 Investigates asked Vannatta about the claim. She said that she is aware Tressel made such a statement, but that it is not true.

    The university has always claimed that it did not learn about what Tressel knew until Jan. 13, after discovering e-mails on the topic during an "unrelated legal matter."

    Based on interviews with multiple sources who had access to transcripts of Tressel's statement during a Feb. 8 NCAA investigation, Tressel claimed to have told athletic director Gene Smith, Vannatta and Archie of his tip, Aker reported.

    The revelation came during an "informal" investigative meeting held by the school following a letter the university received from the U.S. Department of Justice on Dec. 9.  The letter alerted the university that some players had traded their Big Ten championship rings, football jerseys and gold pants, a pendant that players receive from the University for beating Michigan for tattoos.

    The school is vigorously denying the charges in this new story and will likely take that stance to the Committee meeting, citing a lack of proof that Tressel’s superiors knew about problems a month before they “discovered” emails on January 13.

    But Enforcement doesn’t need proof. All it needs to do is convince the Committee that Tressel and the school administration were all aware of rules violations, and all participated in a ruse to cover them up.

    The black hole in Columbus is growing.

    UPDATE: via @BryanDFischer on Twitter, here is the school’s official statement in response to the WBNS story:

    "The university’s filings to the NCAA; Coach Tressel’s formal, written response to the NCAA’s Notice of Allegations on July 8; and the NCAA’s own Case Summary received yesterday on July 21 all make clear that when Coach Tressel was interviewed by a number of people within the institution on December 9 and December 16, he did not share his knowledge about the NCAA violation.

    As we have previously stated to the public and the NCAA in our filings, Coach Tressel only sought advice from the University in January 2011 -- after the university had discovered e-mails that showed that he had knowledge of the matter and in contradiction to his statements to the University the previous December. That sequence of events is summarized clearly by the NCAA in its Case Summary.

    The University categorically denies anything to the contrary, and such allegations are inconsistent with the conclusions of the NCAA and the University.

    Any attempt to characterize events differently would be unnecessarily damaging, inaccurate and entirely misleading."

    Follow me on Twitter and Facebook.

    Bama dominates Media All-SEC team

    First-Team Offense
    Position Name, Team Ht. Wt. Class Hometown
    TE Orson Charles, Georgia (71)
    241 Jr. Tampa, Fla.
    OL Barrett Jones, Alabama (148)
    311 Jr. Memphis, Tenn.
    OL Bradley Sowell, Ole Miss (72)
    315 Sr. Hernando, Miss.
    OL Cordy Glenn, Georgia (71)
    348 Sr. Riverdale, Ga.
    *OL Larry Warford, Kentucky (55)
    340 Jr. Richmond, Ky.
    *OL Brandon Mosley, Auburn (55)
    306 Sr. Jefferson, Ga.
    C William Vlachos, Alabama (97)
    294 Sr. Mountain Brook, Ala.
    WR Greg Childs, Arkansas (103)
    217 Sr. Warren, Ark.
    WR Alshon Jeffery, South Carolina (152)
    233 Jr. St. Matthews, S.C.
    QB Aaron Murray, Georgia (117)
    211 So. Tampa, Fla.
    RB Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina (130)
    231 So. Duncan, S.C.
    RB Trent Richardson, Alabama (119)
    224 Jr. Pensacola, Fla.
    Second-Team Offense
    Position Name, Team Ht. Wt. Class Hometown
    TE Phillip Lutzenkirchen, Auburn (57)
    253 Jr. Marietta, Ga.
    OL D.J. Fluker, Alabama (52)
    335 So. Foley, Ala.
    OL Alex Hurst, LSU (33)
    329 Jr. Bartlett, Tenn.
    OL Bobby Massie, Ole Miss (30)
    325 Jr. Lynchburg, Va.
    OL Chance Warmack, Alabama (24)
    320 Jr. Atlanta, Ga.
    C Ben Jones, Georgia (45)
    316 Sr. Centreville, Ala.
    WR Marquis Maze, Alabama (22)
    180 Sr. Birmingham, Ala.
    WR Joe Adams, Arkansas (17)
    190 Sr. Little Rock, Ark.
    QB Stephen Garcia, South Carolina (23)
    230 Sr. Lutz, Fla.
    RB Knile Davis, Arkansas (50)
    230 Jr. Missouri City, Texas
    RB Michael Dyer, Auburn (23)
    206 So. Little Rock, Ark.
    Third-Team Offense
    Position Name, Team Ht. Wt. Class Hometown
    *TE Michael Williams, Alabama (12)
    269 Jr. Reform, Ala.
    *TE Brandon Barden, Vanderbilt (12)
    245 Sr. Lincolnton, Ga.
    OL Grant Cook, Arkansas (21)
    318 Sr. Jonesboro, Ark.
    OL Kyle Nunn, South Carolina (21)
    296 Sr. Sumter, S.C.
    OL Rokevious Watkins, South Carolina (18)
    334 Sr. Fairburn, Ga.
    *OL Alvin Bailey, Arkansas (14)
    319 So. Broken Arrow, Okla.
    *OL Addison Lawrence, Mississippi State (14)
    300 Sr. Coldwater, Miss.
    *OL Gabe Jackson, Mississippi State (14)
    320 So. Liberty, Miss.
    C Travis Swanson, Arkansas (9)
    305 So. Kingwood, Texas
    WR Jarious Wright, Arkansas (8)
    180 Sr. Warren, Ark.
    WR Emory Blake, Auburn (7)
    197 Jr. Austin, Texas
    QB Jordan Jefferson, LSU (12)
    224 Sr. St. Rose, La.
    RB Brandon Bolden, Ole Miss (5)
    221 Sr. Baton Rouge, La.
    RB Tauren Poole, Tennessee (3)
    215 Sr. Toccoa, Ga.
    First-Team Defense
    Position Name, Team Ht. Wt. Class Hometown
    DL Jake Bequette, Arkansas (100)
    271 Sr. Little Rock, Ark.
    DL Josh Chapman, Alabama (85)
    310 Sr. Hoover, Ala.
    DL Kentrell Lockett, Ole Miss (69)
    248 Sr. Hahnville, La.
    DL Malik Jackson, Tennessee (63)
    270 Sr. Northridge, Calif.
    LB Dont'a Hightower, Alabama (144)
    260 Jr. Lewisburg, Tenn.
    LB Courtney Upshaw, Alabama (82)
    265 Sr. Eufala, Ala.
    LB Danny Trevathan, Kentucky (69)
    230 Sr. Leesburg, Fla.
    DB Mark Barron, Alabama (140)
    218 Sr. Mobile, Ala.
    DB Robert Lester, Alabama (79)
    210 Jr. Foley, Ala.
    DB Stephon Gilmore, South Carolina (64)
    194 Jr. Rock Hill, S.C.
    DB Morris Claiborne, LSU (163)
    177 Jr. Shreveport, La.
    Second-Team Defense
    Position Name, Team Ht. Wt. Class Hometown
    DL Devin Taylor, South Carolina (56)
    248 Jr. Beaufort, S.C.
    DL Nosa Eguae, Auburn (37)
    261 So. Mansfield, Texas
    DL DeAngelo Tyson, Georgia (30)
    306 Sr. Statesboro, Ga.
    *DL Fletcher Cox, Mississippi State (26)
    295 Jr. Yazoo City, Miss.
    *DL Travian Robertson, South Carolina (26)
    298 Sr. Laurinburg, N.C.
    LB Chris Marve, Vanderbilt (61)
    235 Sr. Memphis, Tenn.
    LB Jerry Franklin, Arkansas (35)
    245 Sr. Marion, Ark.
    LB Ryan Baker, LSU (22)
    227 Sr. Grand Ridge, Fla.
    DB Dre' Kirkpatrick, Alabama (50)
    192 Jr. Gadsden, Ala.
    DB Brandon Boykin, Georgia (43)
    183 Sr. Fayetteville, Ga.
    DB Janzen Jackson, Tennessee (34)
    187 Jr. Lake Charles, La.
    DB Neiko Thorpe, Auburn (31)
    185 Sr. Tucker, Ga.
    Third-Team Defense
    Position Name, Team Ht. Wt. Class Hometown
    DL Melvin Ingram, South Carolina (21)
    271 Sr. Hamlet, N.C.
    DL Barkevious Mingo, LSU (21)
    240 So. West Monroe, La.
    DL Sam Montgomery, LSU (20)
    250 So. Greenwood, S.C.
    *DL Tenarius Wright, Arkansas (15)
    252 Jr. Memphis, Tenn.
    *DL Dominique Easley, Florida (15)
    285 So. Staten Island, N.Y.
    LB Shaq Wilson, South Carolina (18)
    233 Jr. Jacksonville, Fla.
    LB C.J. Mosley, Alabama (17)
    234 So. Theodore, Ala.
    *LB Jon Bostic (12)
    238 Jr. Wellington, Fla.
    *LB Jerico Nelson, Arkansas (12)
    216 Sr. Destrehan, La.
    DB Casey Hayward, Vanderbilt (18)
    188 Sr. Perry, Ga.
    DB T'Sharvan Bell, Auburn (18)
    180 Jr. Kissimmee, Fla.
    DB Tyrann Mathieu, LSU (17)
    180 Sr. New Orleans, La.
    DB Tramain Thomas, Arkansas (16)
    198 Sr. Winnie, Texas
    First-Team Specialists
    Position Name, Team Ht. Wt. Class Hometown
    PK Blair Walsh, Georgia (110)
    192 Sr. Boca Raton, Fla.
    P Drew Butler, Georgia (118)
    214 Sr. Duluth, Ga.
    RS Brandon Boykin, Georgia (53)
    183 Sr. Fayetteville, Ga.
    AP Trent Richardson, Alabama (71)
    224 Jr. Pensacola, Fla.
    Second-Team Specialists
    Position Name, Team Ht. Wt. Class Hometown
    PK Caleb Stugis, Floirda (24)
    192 Jr. St. Augustine, Fla.
    P Tyler Campbell, Ole Miss (21)
    227 Jr. Little Rock, Ark.
    RS Onterrio McCalebb, Auburn (29)
    170 Jr. Fort Meade, Fla.
    AP Joe Adams, Arkansas (42)
    190 Sr. Little Rock, Ark.
    Third-Team Specialists
    Position Name, Team Ht. Wt. Class Hometown
    *PK Zach Hocker, Arkansas (10)
    180 So. Russellville, Ark.
    *PK Bryon Rose, Ole Miss (10)
    197 Jr. Raleigh, N.C.
    P Ryan Tydlacka, Kentucky (13)
    185 Sr. Louisville, Ky.
    RS Marquis Maze, Alabama (28)
    180 Sr. Birmingham, Ala.
    AP Trey Burton, Florida (22)
    222 So. Venice, Fla.
    SEC Predicted Order of Finish
    SEC CHAMPION - Alabama (98), LSU (29), Arkansas (18), South Carolina (14), Georgia (4), Florida (2), Ole Miss (2)
    Eastern Division (First Place Votes) Team Points
    1. South Carolina (114)
    2. Georgia (38)
    3. Florida (12)
    4. Tennessee (2)
    5. Kentucky (1)
    6. Vanderbilt
    Western Division (First Place Votes)
    Team Points
    1. Alabama (111)
    2. LSU (30)
    3. Arkansas (23)
    4. Mississippi State (1)
    5. Auburn
    6. Ole Miss (2)

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    Bama fans… WE. ARE. DOOMED!

    Here’s the video evidence.

    Tattoogate has nothing on this, right?  I mean…  These 10 commercials are actually running on the air in Tuscaloosa.  How did T-Town Menswear ever, ever sneak these blatant violations of NCAA rules past the UA Compliance Department?

    We. Are. DOOMED!  DOOMED, I say.

    “That’s my boy right there, Tom.”


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    Thursday, July 21, 2011

    SEC Media Days Transcripts and Quote Links


    This blog’s expected “live coverage” of SEC Media Days has fallen victim to the bandwidth issues plaguing virtually every media member covering the event. Have you ever been in a large hotel that offers “free wireless internet,” only to have every other guest in the hotel decide that they want to do some NetFlix or Hulu for the evening?

    We do have a comprehensive set of transcripts from players, coaches and officials, compliments of @LivingCrimson.


    SEC Media Days Georgia players quotes 7/21/11

    SEC Media Days Tennessee players quotes 7/21/11

    SEC Media Days Auburn players quotes 7/21/11

    Chizik SEC Media Days transcript 7/21/11

    Steve Shaw, SEC Coordinator of Officials, SEC Media Days transcript 7/21/11

    Richt SEC Media Days transcript 7/21/11

    Phillips SEC Media Days transcript 7/21/11

    Dooley SEC Media Days transcript 7/21/11

    SEC Media Days South Carolina players quotes 7/20/11

    SEC Media Days Arkansas players quotes 7/20/11

    SEC Media Days Mississippi State players quotes 7/20/11 

    Mullen SEC Media Days transcript  7/20/11

    Slive SEC Media Days transcript 7/20/11

    Petrino SEC Media Days transcript 7/20/11

    Spurrier SEC Media Days transcript 7/20/11 | 

    SEC Media Days Florida players quotes 7/20/11

    Muschamp SEC Media Days transcript 7/20/11

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    Who da “Third Party Bagman?” Rounding up the suspects

    In light of Danny Sheridan’s little bombshell on the Paul Finebaum Radio Network yesterday afternoon, the crack IBCR Investigative Team have decided to look high and low for the elusive bagman.

    Here are the most likely suspects.

    Georgia Quarterback Aaron Murray was caught red-handed taking a man purse stuffed with something from a known Operation Red Dog operative. Our undercover photographer snapped this shot.


    This guy swears that it’s not a man-purse. It’s a satchel. But he wouldn’t tell us what was in it.


    Friends of the Program found this guy. And, he’s fabulous.


    We think this might be a little too obvious. But you never know.


    We tried to interview this Auburn fan, but when she realized what this was all about, she went all emo on us and started screaming…

    image We’ll continue our search and let you know what other ne’er do-wells we turn up.

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    Wednesday, July 20, 2011

    Danny Sheridan tells Paul Finebaum that NCAA “has the bagman.”



    Mike Slive opened SEC Media Days with a sweeping agenda for change that had the gaggle of assembled sportswriters oohing and aahing and wondering whether the NCAA might seriously consider such an agressive agenda.

    But The Paul Finebaum Radio Network isn’t going to let Mike Slive dance around the 4,374,489 lb elephant in the room:

    Paul Finebaum had the USA Today's Danny Sheridan on as a guest this afternoon, and Sheridan says the NCAA thinks it has found the bag man who helped Auburn pay for Cam Newton. I didn't catch the whole thing and the replay's not up yet, but this is news big enough to post it now and update later.

    Most of what I have to go on right now is a series of tweets from Finebaum's Twitter feed. Here are the bullet points:

    • The NCAA investigation of Auburn ramped up after the Destin incident. Be careful what you wish for, Gene Chizik.
    • This is a quote from Sheridan: "As I understand it, the NCAA is trying to get an alleged 3rd person or bag man to come forward."
    • Sheridan reports that the investigation is all about Auburn and not about Mississippi State.
    • If the NCAA can put it all together, major sanctions will come along with vacation of the national championship and Heisman.
    • Sheridan closed by reiterating that the NCAA thinks it knows the "third party" who put up the money to pay for Newton's signature.

    Obviously this is huge news. I'll try to update this as soon as Finebaum's web site posts the audio from the interview.

    This follows the news earlier today, blogged about here, in Clay Travis’ half-right story about the NCAA snooping around Montgomery, looking for clues on Cam Newton and the HBO Four.

    But what’s interesting about Sheridan’s comments to Finebaum is that he said that in 25 years, his source has never let him down. This strongly indicates that Sheridan is relying on someone close to or inside NCAA Enforcement. Sheridan would not compromise his source by blindsiding them on PFRN.

    Which means that Sheridan almost certainly got clearance from his source to talk.

    Exit Question: Is it wise to bet against Sheridan?

    SEC Media

    No, Slive is not retiring.... put that rumor to bed.

    Sent from my iPad

    Clay Travis’ post on NCAA – Auburn investigation gets part of the story right

    image Launching his new website,, Clay Travis chose a subject for his first post that was sure to grab attention and make a splash. In the SEC, there is no story sure to drive traffic better than one with “new information” about the NCAA’s ongoing probe into Auburn University’s recruiting practices.

    And to drop the story on the opening day of SEC Media Days is internet marketing gold.

    Salut, sir.

    As part of the latest round of investigation in Montgomery, [NCAA investigator Jackie] Thurnes conducted interviews with Montgomery businessmen with relationships to Auburn University. Reached for comment by multiple individuals who spoke with Thurnes declined comment. Those interviews dealt with the NCAA's continuing probe of Cam Newton, but also focused on allegations levied on HBO's Real Sports by former Auburn player Stanley McClover. McClover told HBO that he'd been paid to play football for Auburn. The NCAA investigating McClover's claims is interesting because typically the NCAA statute of limitations on collegiate wrongdoing is four years. McClover last played at Auburn in January of 2006, but the NCAA reserves the right to expand the statute of limitations if there is a connection or pattern of wrongdoing. 

    The NCAA's ten-month investigation is further complicated by the continuing fount of allegations, many untrue, levied by Alabama fans in the state. These allegations have thrust ordinary citizens into the forefront of the rumor machine. One such individual, Thomas Buckelew, a tailor at Buckelew's Clothing for Men in Montgomery, Alabama, finds himself buffeted by allegations that he provided high-priced suits to Cam Newton at reduced costs. The very suits, you guessed it, that Newton wore at the Heisman ceremony. According to sources, Newton's suits, ties included, cost in excess of $4,000 each. NCAA investigator Jackie Thurnes was informed of this allegation, and the NCAA has spent time investigating its validity.  

    Rumors of an impending NCAA visit to Montgomery had been swirling for weeks before the interviews took place. Those rumors had been floated on Twitter, Facebook and fansites and message boards of various SEC schools. So while we can confirm that Ms. Thurnes did indeed visit Montgomery and conduct interviews, the idea that the NCAA’s investigation is being complicated by “untrue” allegations levied by Alabama fans is the part of this story that Travis gets wrong.

    I redirect by pointing you to GulfCoastBamaFan’s post of July 3:

    No one associated with the University of Alabama had a thing to do with Eric Ramsey taping Pat Dye and Larry Blakeney incriminating themselves in 1991. Bammer didn’t have a thing to do with Cecil Newton shopping his son around for a six figure sum. No one wearing crimson paid or encouraged four former football players to tell HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel that they were paid thousands of dollars in improper benefits. There wasn’t any Red Elephant Club involvement in four players committing armed robbery during a home invasion. Alabama didn’t send the NCAA down to Thibodaux, LA to investigate the recruitment of Greg Robinson and Trovon Reed. And there was no bammer involvement in the NCAA’s recent visit to South Florida. Seeing a pattern here, sports fans?

    I see your Harvey Updyke and raise you one John Thrower, one Mark Green and a Jeffery Lee.

    It’s no one else’s fault that an Auburn booster is standing trial on charges of bribery and money laundering. It’s no one else’ fault that the current AD has a documented business relationship with another defendant in that case, who is also accused of money laundering. It’s not bammer’s fault that AU’s most prominent supporter saw his financial empire collapse and may himself see federal indictment under Sarbanes-Oxley. We didn’t do this to you.

    Auburn’s NCAA problems are not being caused by crazy Bama fans making up stories and sending the NCAA investigators on wild goose chases. Most of those fans are just cheerleaders and are regurgitating stuff they see elsewhere.

    There is no Operation Red Dog among Alabama fans. Travis says the NCAA’s interviews focused on Cam Newton and the HBO Four. Alabama fans had nothing to do with those situations, either. Auburn fans might like to fantasize about bammers lurking in dark corners and telling tattle-tales about Auburn, but it really is a fantasy.

    Clay Travis will have a lot of fun with his new site, especially if he likes playing the two fanbases in this state against each other.

    SEC Media update

    Petrino is in the house.... t-minus to the Slive announcement

    Sent from my iPad

    SEC Media Days: Slive has Wynfrey buzzing

    There’s a rumor buzzing around Hoover this morning that SEC Commissioner Mike Slive might have some interesting news to deliver when he kicks off with the annual state of the conference address at 12:30 CDT this afternoon.

    We’ll have more as news develops.

    Listen to BAMS Radio every Wednesday night 8PM CST. BAMS is a growing Blog Talk Radio show that has already had such notable guests as former Alabama assistant coach Joe Kines, former Tide great Siran Stacy, Crimson Tide Sports Network’s Eli Gold, even your beloved Blogger-in-Chief!

    Follow on Twitter and Facebook and follow BAMS Radio here.

    It’s an SEC World

    Rise of the Champs3SEC Media Days can only mean that football is near. And there’s no better place for football than the South.

    The SEC is not only the reigning champion of college football, it also leads all conferences in game attendance for the past thirteen years. 2010 shows the football fanbase is as passionate as ever. One of the only recession proof things in the U.S. is SEC football.

    "The attendance at our games is just an example of how passionate our fans are in supporting our teams and their schools," said Charles Bloom, associate commissioner of the SEC. "Even with all of our games on TV, our fans come out to the games in record numbers. And that says something about the passion and the support of the fans."

    Nine SEC schools finished in the top 30 of Division I attendance led by Alabama (4), Tennessee (6), Georgia (7), LSU (8), Florida (9), Auburn (10), South Carolina (18), Arkansas (22) and Kentucky (25).

    There’s a reason SEC fans support their teams in record numbers. In addition to winning FIVE straight BCS Championships, six of the past eight BCS titles, and seven total since the BCS system began in 1998, the SEC has the most BCS bowl wins with 15.

    The SEC also led all conferences in revenue from the 2010-2011 bowl season with $41.925M, topping its nearest competitor the Big 10 by more than $6.5M and almost doubling the monies earned by the Big East.

    The SEC is national champions off the field as well, leading all conferences in Academic All-Americans in 2010-2011 with 43 (Alabama placed the most athletes). The SEC also had an all-time record of 23 earn first-team honors.

    SEC Media Days has more than 1,000 credentialed members of the media – of course, more than any other conference -- who will all be asking the same question:  Will 2011 bring SIX National Championships in a row?

    There’s only one way to find out … buy your tickets and let’s get ready for some football!

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