Posted on May 27th, 2011 by Brandon Priddy
With the Big East meetings coming to a close, the expansion talk is once again heating up. So I thought, why not throw my hat into the ring and give my take on strategy. And what better way to analyze a set of strategic moves than comparisons to “The Godfather,” a study in strategy if there ever was one. This post turned out to be pretty long, so I split it up into 2. Part I is all the moves that I think would be less than ideal: the Don and the Brothers’ moves. Part II will be my new vision for the Big East: Michael’s moves. Let us now speak, as men. Vito – Add Villanova or Central Florida This is the safe move. When Vito politely denied the offer of a business partnership with Solozzo, he did so in the spirit of prudence. He was an old man, had been doing this awhile and was in no hurry to take risks. He had his empire, was in the process of handing it over to his sons and simply wanted to maintain the status quo. Unfortuately The Don learns that you’re either growing or dying, and standing pat is never an option. His decision, which appeared prudent and intelligently conservative in the moment, unwittingly leads to his attempted assassination and open warfare. A bad move. Similarly, a move to add Villanova or Central Florida (and those attractive TV markets), while on the surface a safe move that doesn’t devalue the league, also doesn’t strengthen it for the next round of realignment (more on this in Part II). You dilute the football payout pool with a team that, in the case of ‘Nova and their 20k person sellouts, will not pull it’s weight. With UCF you add a basketball program with no value whatsoever. It’s just not a long-term visionary move and, much like the Don’s decision, attempts to maintain the status quo for the next round of realignment. But as we said, there is no status quo, you’re either growing or dying. After this past season of Big East football, which direction do you think things are going? Fredo – Add Memphis Fredo was weak. Fredo knew he was weak and more importantly everyone around him knew it, too. Unfortunately, Fredo wasn’t willing to just accept this about himself and settle for simultaneous cocktail waitresses (the poor bastard). He got in over his head trying to prove himself and set off a course of events that he never had a chance to control and ultimately ended in the worst fishing trip ever. This would be adding Memphis. You’d be adding a team just to do it. You might as well start shouting “I’m smart! Not DUMB like everybody says!” No good comes from this. No potential big TV market (‘Nova), no prime recruiting ground (UCF). Nothing. You get free overnight shipping, that’s about it. This team has no fan base, no tradition and no chance to be competitive. “A homeless man’s Cincinnati” is not a compliment. You’ve brought in someone with no chance of bringing in their share of required revenue, in effect costing every other team money. Aside from that you further dilute the conference, create fodder for more jokes and add (another) weak conference game to the schedule of any team that seeks to challenge for a national title. On the basketball side, you’re adding a marginal “power” to a league that already carries around big time basketball programs “like so many nickels and dimes.” There is nothing good that comes from this move. Sonny – Add Central Florida, Villanova & Another team of similar stature, most likely Houston Sonny was a hothead but when he acted, took a full swing. You shoot his father, he puts 100 button men on the street and goes to the mattresses. You smack his sister around, you’re getting beat with a trashcan lid. Unfortunately Sonny’s decisive actions were born of the moment and seldom thought through, exposing him to bad situations. You know, like getting shot roughly 1,537 times in 30 seconds on the causeway. Adding a 3 piece combo of UCF, ‘Nova and Houston is a big move that does a lot of good things. You get to 12 and qualify for a conference title game. There’s a reason that 2/3 of the AQ 6 do this currently. You bring in some extra revenue and give a possible late season push to any title contender. Make no mistake, 12 is the way to go. Unfortunately, you’re still bringing in teams with unproven track records and fledgling fan bases. Scenarios like this year’s UConn Fiesta Bowl fiasco (setting fire to piles of money) would become more likely. You quite possibly over-expand strictly for the sake of getting to 12 and weaken the overall product. And this is all aside from basketball, where you will have created a mega mess of a conference 2/3 the size of the NBA. I won’t even go into the resulting SNAFU. Suffice to say it would be horrible, the conference tournament would have to start in February. Seriously, if you need me to explain to you all the ways that a 20 team basketball conference would suck just stop reading now. Godfather Part III was probably your favorite of the series, too. On balance, this doesn’t amount to a terrible move, but it a) doesn’t significantly upgrade football in quality (even if it does in quantity) and b) fails to address the elephant that’s been in the room since 1991, started a family, died and now has left a room full of baby elephants – the co-existance of basketball and football in a conference where all members don’t do both. Tom Hagen – Add SMU Stop laughing. STOP DAMMIT! You done? OK, let’s begin. Tom was smart. He was the one whom people turned to for thoughtful advice. And if you read the book you know he was a shrewd businessman: finding hidden value, sneaky smart, buying low and selling high. He makes the family truckloads of money by getting them into the movie business after flying out to meet with Johnny Fontaine. I’ll confess, this is by far the biggest stretch I’ve presented but a) I couldn’t in good conscience leave out Tom and b) I really wanted to trot out my crazy SMU theory. When I was watching that fantastic “Pony Exce$$” 30 for 30 documentary, I couldn’t shake the feeling that program is a sleeping giant that just might be ready to awake. This is a fanbase that’s tasted success in a region that lives for football. The school seems to have righted the ship and at worst it seems you’d get someone at least as competitive as Rutgers, and if they start winning, you’ve got an instant power. You’ve already planted your flag in Texas with the TCU aquisition, why not give them a good regional rival and siphon off a little more of that Lonestar State talent. They’re at LEAST as damn good as Villanova – and quite possibly UCF or Houston. If you’re just going to add one team, why not one that actually brings something to the table. The potential upside of having a football power in Dallas would seem to make it worth the gamble. So there’s Part I – what the Don and the brothers would do. But as we know none of them possessed that special combination of intelligence, creativity, audacity and ruthlessness it took to save the family. That special blend was Michael’s alone and tomorrow we’ll unveil the grand plan for Big East re-alignment.
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