Transitioning Away from the Big Ten the Right Choice for ND

Notre Dame Football

One of the more frustrating and difficult concepts in life is hindsight. Every one of us stumbles across a defining moment where a decision must be made to better secure our future, a matter made problematic given the rarity of complete information when selecting a concluding path. Adding to the pressure, hindsight often taunts our decision-making with its omnipotent weapon, the passage of time. I personally can recall far too many instances where hindsight made a decision of mine seem foolish, like talking up my track record of responsibility at a job interview only to later realize I had locked my keys inside my car in the parking lot. But there are certain instances where hindsight appears as a kind friend, offering a clear view of the wise decision that was made.

The fathers are holy on Sunday, and they’re holy hell on the rest of the week. You just can’t trust those damn Catholics on a Thursday or a Friday, and so, literally, I can say that,” said E. Gordon Gee, Ohio State’s president, in regard to the University of Notre Dame at an Ohio State Athletic Council meeting in December.

The Notre Dame, that rivalry, which they’re chickening out of…they’re still going to play Michigan State, they’ll play Purdue, they don’t want to play Michigan,” said Michigan Wolverines head coach, Brady Hoke, at the West Michigan Sports Commission several weeks ago.

With friends like these…

The fact is, the underlying tension and animosity between Notre Dame and the Big Ten has always been present, and the quotes from Gee and Hoke are nothing new. Former Penn State head coach, Joe Paterno, publicly stated the Big Ten should pass on Notre Dame as a member, as ND has “had their chance.” Former Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema didn’t mince words in 2007 when Notre Dame landed a BCS bowl over his Badgers.

I understand why certain teams get exemptions. I don’t understand why Notre Dame does. If they want to play by conference rules, join a conference. They don’t take, maybe, into consideration past bowl history. Notre Dame hasn’t won in the last nine bowl appearances, or whatever it is. And to me, we’ve proven over time that we deserve the opportunity.”

This week has offered horizon-wide images of hindsight upon Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick’s decision to affiliate Notre Dame with the Atlantic Coast Conference, and the results are extremely positive. Notre Dame made the right call. In addition to escaping the intermittently overt hostility between Notre Dame and the Big Ten, the ACC is simply a better fit. Yes, Notre Dame is geographically closer to Big Ten members, and the Fighting Irish and the Big Ten share a rich tradition. But the similarities end there. Most of the Big Ten consists of large public universities, with the lone exception being Northwestern. The ACC possesses a multitude of private college (Boston College, Syracuse, Wake Forest, Duke and Miami) akin to Notre Dame in design, a comforting welcome mat compared to the anomaly the Fighting Irish would have been had an affiliation been struck with the Big Ten.

The biggest boon Notre Dame has netted with its relationship with the ACC is access to talent. As the table below illustrates, 152 recruits listed on the Rivals 250 are from the South, roughly 61%. And with ACC members peppered throughout the Southern region of the United States, Notre Dame will have its brand invading the Mason Dixon line and familiarizing itself with the best of America’s talent in ways it simply could not have accomplished in previous years.

Class of 2014 Rivals 250


Number Listed in Rivals 250









North Carolina








South Carolina












The strength of Notre Dame’s relationship with the ACC extends far beyond access to talent – it includes excitability and income. It surely wasn’t lost on ACC officials that when Notre Dame headed to Atlanta in 2006 to play Georgia Tech, tickets were sold out within the first two hours of availability to the public, and the 450 members of the media that descended upon Bobby Dodd Stadium were the most in Georgia Tech history. Such anticipation already has the Clemson-Notre Dame matchup in 2015 at Death Valley, the first matchup between the two since 1979, being tabbed as one of the hardest tickets to get by the local media two years before kickoff.

Hindsight illustrated very clearly this week to the Irish faithful that Notre Dame made the right decision by taking the ACC route. And despite the South’s emergence as a superpower of football talent and production, the Big Ten has recently announced its intention to increase its conference schedule to nine games. Instead of reaching out to Southern talent, the Big Ten has opted to build a wall and slowly asphyxiate itself from the inside.

Notre Dame’s affiliation with the ACC will begin soon enough, and the hostility-fueled utterances of the likes of Hoke and Gee will be nothing more than sound waves echoing off a wall of fading glory that only ghosts of Big Ten past will be able to hear.

Scott Janssen is a blogger for the Huffington Post and has authored several nationally-featured articles as well as co-founded a nationally-featured non-profit organization. In his spare time he takes his NCAA Football ’13 online dynasty way too seriously and alienates those around him by discussing football 24 hours a day. Scott can be reached at

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  1. Bob R 2 years ago

    Interesting to look back on this with hindsight. 🙂 ND did the right thing to join the ACC, but it looks like that asphyxiating wall that the Big 10 is building just ain’t there. Seems they’re doing OK these days, both in success against the other Power 5 conferences and in recruiting in the south.

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  2. JC 5 years ago

    Rather than duranko’s meandering QB psychobable BK said this:

    “And just like the guy who can’t make tackles, you’re not going to be on the field if you can’t tackle and you’re probably not going to be on the field if you throw interceptions, whether you’re Tommy Rees or Malik Zaire or Everett Golson, so that’s pretty established within our program as to what the expectations are.”

    Factual QB prognosis determined by BK
    South Bend Tribune

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  3. JC 5 years ago

    Really? “Hatred, by any name is decidely unCatholic.”
    Ah yes, how about another bi-facial quote from our infamous duranko!

    January 13th, 2013 at 8:27 p.m. Author: duranko

    “But the posters on the board. They blink, they emote, they babble, they wine, they wall, Some collection of infantile bedwetters, who resort to profanity and name calling.”

    WOW – feel the LOVE being spewed Guys! Hahahahahaha!

    Nice baseball ball technique on your readership duranko. If you hate your readership so much, do us a favor and go back to retirement old fella.
    Not to worry, we won’t miss you! Yes, I already know..wishful thinking. However in your case:

    barba crescit caput nescit

    duranko, you would only have to seek these realities from an experienced psychologist.

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    1. Ron Burgundy 5 years ago

      Quisque comodeus est

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  4. duranko 5 years ago

    What is extraordinary here is that Kelly has been insistent that he can prepare three, but not four, quarterbacks. That is just the right amount.
    Rees just completed his fourth spring. Hendrix received serious minutes
    against Stanford in 2011. And, while working on smoothing out Zaire’s throwing motion, they can prepare a limited package for him.

    This might be erroneous, but I’d venure a wild guess that Hendrix and Zaire, combined, will see more serious minutes that Rees did in 2012.

    The Michigan game is key. If we can get past that one, there could be good things ahead.

    Second, this may also be a minority opinion, but I expect the defense to be much improved over 2012. We have seldom had this level of depth and competence at linebacker (and it’s allowed Ishaq to be cross trained at defensive end).

    and our secondary, at both positions is far advanced of where we were in 2012. With Baratti, Collinsworth, Hardy, Wood and Luke we can both nickel and dime.

    And the cherry on top of the defensive sundae? Jaylon Smith. He will be impactful.

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  5. Ron Burgundy 5 years ago

    “We have Tommy Rees, who is an established player, and he will be our starter,” Kelly said. “We think Andrew Hendrix and Malik Zaire can contribute, but Tommy will be our starter.”

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    1. Toulmin H. Brown 5 years ago

      A senior is Rees however, not to be paranoid, but to play Hendrix in pressure situations effectively would bolster ND’S power + ranking.

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  6. C-Dog 5 years ago

    Well we can say that we did get the first victory over the Big 10. Gee is gone from that Ohio School. Turns out the board of Trustees does trust those damn Catholics after all.

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    1. JC 5 years ago

      Kudos C-Dog,

      Divine justice prevails…

      “I believe in equality for everyone, except reporters and photographers.” –

      Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi
      AKA Mahatma Gandi – 1869 -1948 Indian political and spiritual leader, and social reformer

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  7. HURLS 5 years ago

    “Hindsight”? Hindsight is wasted time…unless you must illustrate the ridiculousness of Butt-head Brady Joke-Hoke and/or the sheer idiocy of OSU. It’s a good thing we (NotreDame) must not. But wait a sec…isn’t it kinda fun to shed light on that bunch of idiots – because they are just idiots?
    Yes, it is.
    So “hindsight” is for people walking backwards. Not NotreDame.
    Congrats and thank you, Swarbrick.

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  8. JC 5 years ago

    “You can’t depend on your eyes if your imagination is out of focus.” –

    Mark Twain

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  9. JC 5 years ago

    Really, now your a mind reader of intent too. Hahaha! Your to be pitied duranko. Furthermore, when does your indirect interpretation trump all others old fella? Ultimatums seem to be your specialty here lately.

    Dogma? Nah, not you! Hmmm….doctrinal not one of your best attributes? How dare me! Hahaha! Not to mention, your sincere humility and oh yes cogently humble opinions too, while attacking are regular fans/alums here.

    It’s unfortunate duranko, who put you in charge of oil and water on this site? I know you expect all to acquiesce to your superior absolutism, not I old fella. Why? I’ve already used up all four of my ‘turn the other cheek'(s) for your bold and brazen holier than thou attitude.

    Just keep digging the hole and I’ll be happy to throw dirt in it for you. Empowering respect at it’s finest since your the only real nd man and perfect christian on this site.

    Any more worth while self-serving questions old fella? Or is that not an immediate grasp of the obvious to you?

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  10. duranko 5 years ago

    jc, once again, your post is more illuminating about thee than me.

    Where did I post “my” dogma? I actually picked up the information I posted in a pretty good place. I merely pass info along.

    And, this may be new to you, the hatred portrayed was visceral, not comedic.

    The poster conflated Catholicism and hatred. That’s oil and water, young fella.

    Either we follow Christ or we don’t. The choice is individual. And pretty important.

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  11. JC 5 years ago

    What’s next duranko? An online exorcism? The Catholic Church has 1.2 Billion members in the world and we’re stuck with your dogmatic sorry a$$.

    I’m sure your mental disorder will not except the possible concept of ‘football hate’ in jest vs ‘real hate.’ So, your overlordship, are you suffering from a severe case of acatalepsia?

    If not, may I suggest a course in cephalometrics? so you can relocate your brain where it should be Mr. Comfy.

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    1. Shazamrock 5 years ago

      You mean duranko could preform an on line exorcism?


      Think he could help me?

      I’ve had this dreadful feeling that there is some wicked, un-natural evil dwelling deep inside of me.

      On second thought, it’s probably just that second helping of Tex-Mex Chili and the six beers that I consumed last night!

      Now that I think about it, perhaps church isn’t the best choice for seeking absolvement in this matter.

      As Confucius say: “Man who fart in church… sit in his own pew”

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      1. JC 5 years ago


        Shaz, I have to work real hard on satire. Man, your out right funny, when am I going to see you on SNL? Without you, there would be ZERO humor on this site!

        THANK YOU! SHAZ!

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  12. Damian 5 years ago

    Anti-Catholic sentiment seems to be alive and well at some Big 10 schools. Funny to think that’s what kept ND out of the Big 10 in the first place and it lives on. Not to say I wan’t ND to drop Big 10 teams from the schedule. It’s good they’ll continue to play Purdue and Michigan State, and yes, I’ll admit I’ll miss the yearly series with Michigan because there’s nothing like a shared hatred to make a good game (hopefully they can still arrange home-home series every few years to keep this rivalry alive).

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    1. duranko 5 years ago

      Hatred is decidedly unCatholic. Being hated for being Catholic does not allow a “catholic” to hate back. Au contraire. Jesus said so, with extreme prejudice, inter alii, in Matthew Chapter 5.

      Christ drew quite the line in the dirt there! You’re either on his side or you ain’t. Choose. There’s a good bit at stake.

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      1. Damian 5 years ago

        Hatred as in football hate, the rivalry. Not hate as in ND hopes all the Michigan players die horrible deaths. But as in we hope ND beats the pants off Michigan. By no means am I speaking of any sort of visceral hatred. It’s only a game, after all.

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      2. duranko 5 years ago

        Really? Football hate is a “gateway vice”. And again, you are disingenuous if you are averring that you can bifurcate hatred or if you endorse the anti-Michigan venom that is spewed on this site, including the main board, as permitted Christian behavior. Hatred, by any name, is decidely unCatholic.

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      3. C-Dog 5 years ago

        I agree. Really, I can’t say I have ever hated Michigan. The school, it’s students, alums and fans frankly aren’t all that exciting. I get annoyed that they think they deserve to win every game. I also don’t like that people think we Domers feel the same way. We want to win every game and we expect our teams to achieve. But I’ve never heard any serious statements that we’re better than the score.

        If not for Brent Musberger, Michigan is a bit of a yawner as far as so called rivalries go. And no one should get too upset. Michigan and ND will play just not every year.

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      4. Damian 5 years ago


        You need to relax man (or girl, I guess don’t assume anything). You’re taking my comments way out of context and way too seriously. It’s a rivalry series. A series where both teams hope they kick the crap out of the other team (which frankly, makes for good rivalry games). I’m only talking about football here. Some of my best friends are Michigan fans 🙂

        No need to go all self-righteous. Geez.

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      5. Shazamrock 5 years ago

        Ut Oh…

        You used the word “Geez”

        That could be considered as slang for “Jesus”

        Shame, shame, he knows your name!

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      6. Damian 5 years ago

        I should have said “Gosh”. My bad.

        He really did seem to get bent out of shape over an off-hand comment about a fierce rivalry.

        I really had not considered the religious implications of my comments about a football rivalry.

        But whatever.

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  13. C-Dog 5 years ago

    Caterpillar lays off 25,000 workers mostly in Illinois. GM and Chrysler go bankrupt and get bailed out. Michigan has been in the top 5 in foreclosures. Many jobs are moving south. The Uppper Midwest has some nice places, like the shoreline of Lake Michigan, and Superior, and perhaps some areas of central Wisconsin and upper Minnesota. But by and large it’s a place that is on the downward spiral and the land grant schools are going to churn out folks who want to pretend that isn’t so.

    Notre Dame is located in South Bend, but truly is a national experience. And definitely Notre Dame can identify with academically competitive schools that are smaller. In all other sports, Notre Dame has very little in common with the Big 10, and definitely aligns better with the ACC. In football, it would be better to seem many more independents.

    The notion that conferences are a better or more moral alternative to independents has the idea turned on it’s head. Conferences are among the most corrupt bodies in the country, creating regional monopolies and fostering graft, cheating and pressing to lower academic standards.

    And now we have the Anti Catholic statements – once again. This by itself and the Big 10’s mandate that Notre Dame give up it’s Catholic morality to engage in research that is Anti Catholic and Anti Life is reason enough. I voted it down in the mid 1990s. Football just doesn’t stack up to moral principals.

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    1. JC 5 years ago


      You just described the US Goverment too. Hahaha!

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    2. Patrick 5 years ago

      Actually, you’re describing – perfectly well I may add – the commonality shared among staunch “blue” states.

      The Midwest is a dying region as far as attracting newcomers. It’s a dying region for economic growth (outside of farming). Traveling through it, it is rundown, has an “old, past its prime” feel. And I say that as someone who travels through IL, IN, MI and OH regularly.

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      1. JC 5 years ago

        Kudos Patrick,

        I won’t bore people with my South Bend Indiana Diatribe. I will say however, If not for Notre Dame there would be no South Bend Indiana. Yes, indeed the landscape speaks volumes.

        I moved deep south four years ago from SB with ZERO regrets!

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      2. Fielding Yost 3 years ago

        Yeah tell that the Upper Midwest is Dying to North Dakota and Northern Minnesota. I think we lead the country in employment and new jobs. Detroits Automobile Industry is doing just fine. All four of this years NFL Championship teams are from Northern States. The big ten just won the NCGame. Maybe if we could relocate Northwestern to another state and exile Illinois and Indiana to another Area we would be even more competitive. Global warming will be a bitch when she finally makes up her mind and get to business.

        By the way have you even taken a look at how many Catholic Diocese have filed for bankruptcy? Ouch!

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  14. Rich 5 years ago

    I guess Gee and Hoke have nothing better to do? If Gee wasn’t such a good fundraiser he’d be gone and what has Hoke done lately? ND doesn’t need the Big Ten! Hey, they added a top notch school, Rutgers, recently. Did a say top notch? Sorry! They added Rutgers recently and the Big Ten experts were overjoyed. Why, because RU is like many Big Ten schools in football…..not very good. Good riddance to the Big 10. Maybe had Paterno paid more attention to his own program he might have not been disgraced like he was. Go ND!

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    1. duranko 5 years ago

      what Hoke has done lately is a list of achievements including the following:

      (1) Ending a long losing streak against top rival Ohio State

      (2) Ending a not as long losing streak against secondary rival Michigan State

      (3) leading a charge to bolster a defense that was giving up over 30 points a game to give up just 20 points a game in his first two years

      (4) WIN a BCS game

      (5) Go unbeaten at home in his first two years

      That’s enough to say grace over.

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      1. Jack 5 years ago


        I disagree with your analysis of Brady Hoke.

        #1. He won a game against a weakened OSU team with a interrum coach Luke Fickle and a freshman QB. What happened when he played OSU this year, he lost.

        #2. Again MSU down year freshman QB. I would use the phrase “OVERRATTED”.

        #3. Defense I will give you, but look at the offenses they played. A prolific offense in the Big Ten is Indiana. It’s not like they are playing Big 12 teams spreading them all over the field.

        #4. BCS win against a weak Va Tec team.

        #5. To go unbeaten at home is a valid point.

        I like to look at Hoke like everyone looked at CW. Great first two years, but couldn’t keep it going. Let’s face it if you don’t beat OSU you get fired. I don’t see him beating OSU with Urban. Urban left the SEC not because of a sickness, he left because he would get his butt kicked by Saban. I don’t see Hoke being at Michigan past 2016.

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      2. dru 4 years ago

        Notre dame has been weak forever…cya

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  15. Dan Newcomer 5 years ago

    Great read couldn’t agree more with all that was said here.

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  16. Shazamrock 5 years ago

    More important than any conference affilliation is ND’s continued status as an independent.

    With the college football playoffs starting next year,(replacing the current BCS format) Strength of Schedule (SOS) will be critical for any program wanting to even have a chance to play for a National Championship.

    A independent ND team that continually ranks in the top 10 will be a very hot comodity for any top conference team wanting to improve their SOS by improving their non-conference games.

    This will be especially true for those teams who happen to be stuck in a conference that may be in a bit of a downward trend.

    The key for ND is to remain highly competitive. If they can do that their independence gives them the schedulling flexability that will become a real advantage.

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    1. JC 5 years ago

      Good Morning Shaz,

      Excellent points.

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    2. C-Dog 5 years ago

      100% agree!

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    3. Shazamrock 5 years ago

      As far as ND transisitioning away from the big 10, and more directly…. Michigan, it is the mighty wolverines who will bear the brunt.

      Michigan absolutly loves to start their season as close to home as possible.
      (in 2011 they opened with 5 streight home games)

      With exception to last years season opener against Alabama where they had to travel South to a neutral site, they either play their non conference at home or schedule an away game that is a short bus ride away. (mostly to South Bend)
      Now that a playoff is just around the corner, Eastern, Western, or Central Michigan at home every year just ain’t gonna cut it any more.

      And that little bus ride to South Bend is gone now too.

      So who are they going to find for a “respectable” non conference? Louisville? Cincinnatti? West Virginia? Pitt?
      All viable options for a program that wants in on a playoff, but they are not going get any of those teams at home year after year. And to do a “home&home” is going to take more than a short bus ride to get it done!

      All I can say to Michigan is be careful what you wish for and watch out for that jet lag, it’s a bitch.

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      1. Toulmin H. Brown 5 years ago

        “As far as ND transisitioning away from the big 10, and more directly…. Michigan, it is the mighty wolverines who will bear the brunt.”

        Michigan has ceased to be labeled ‘mighty.’ Unless we’re discussing Michigan’s history, athletic traditions generally or the 1997 tied NC.

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  17. Toulmin H. Brown 5 years ago

    “The fact is, the underlying tension and animosity between Notre Dame and the Big Ten has always been present, and the quotes from Gee and Hoke are nothing new.”

    Notre Dame can play who it choose to. I strongly support the occasional game with tOSU, NU, OU (which allowed ND into the BCSNC), as well as Stanford + USC …The SEC as it always has over rates itself & its importance but face it the arrogance of the south landed the USA in its bloodiest war in our brief history.
    The “animosity” between ND + B10 universities revolves around discrimination and the B10 gets away with it. I’d still play them on the gridiron with thoroughly scrutinized officials, referees & even color commentators.

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  18. JC 5 years ago

    Amen Scott,

    Elegantly spoken, outstanding post.

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  19. pete 5 years ago

    I agree, Note Dame should have never scheduled Michigan in the first place. Notre me should play some new teams like Oregon State, Texas Tech, Arkansas, Cincinnati, Missouri.

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  20. Mary Janssen 5 years ago

    Last line in your article says it all.

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