Wide Right: "Wall Street" Meets ACC Expansion
by Jeff Cockey, 5/22/03
Recently I sat down with my wife to enjoy a truly classic movie of greed, betrayal, violence, backstabbing, and revenge. No, we didnít rent the video copy of the Big East meetings at Ponte Vedra Beach Florida. We sat down to Gordon Gekko and Bud Fox in the movie which eerily parallels this entire ACC expansion fiasco: "Wall Street." I was inspired, and feel compelled to share my comparisons between the movie and the ACC expansion.
First letís examine the characters in this movie:
Bud Fox, the hard working stockbroker who gets caught up befriending an evil greater than any known to Wall Street. Bud Fox will be played by Virginia Tech.
Next we have Gordon Gekko, a man that runs on pure deceit. A lying, conniving, backstabbing, money hungry, evil that cares for nothing but an extra buck and his over-inflated ego. Gekkoís part has earned The University of Miami and President Shalala an Oscar for their uncanny portrayal. They really embodied the true characteristics of Gekko Ė "Bravo!" on their performance. "And Iíd like to thank the Academy for the opportunity to play a role for which I was so very well suited. It was like I didnít even need to get into character." Careful Shalala, you might just get typecast.
Then there is the blond puppy dog, always nipping at Gekkoís heels. This part is played by Darryl Hannah. She knew the right thing to do was to stay with Bud Fox but she didnít want to cross the all-powerful Gekko. So, much like Dorothy and "her little dog too," she followed the yellowbrick (read: greenback) road and bounded after Gordy. While this part could conceivably have two players, it is my opinion that Boston College is the more deserving. . . and what a job they have done. Maybe not Oscar-worthy, but as you know, it is such an honor just to be nominated.
As the movie opens, we are introduced to Bud Fox, a struggling broker looking to make a name for himself, much like VA Tech was a struggling football team looking to step up to national prominence.
Eventually, Bud teams up with Gordon Gekko, a seasoned veteran of the finance world, much like VT teamed up with Miami, a football school with a storied history of gridiron dominance.
As we watch, we see Bud growing stronger in his position, becoming more confident in his abilities and gaining ground on Gordo. This reminds us all of a time in the '90s when VT grew stronger and gained ground on Miamiís storied football tradition by beating them five straight years.
We come to a pivotal scene in the film when Gekko has falsely earned Budís trust - enough that Bud offers a plan to save his fatherís airline. A plan contingent upon the investment of Budís "good friend" Gordon. Rent the movie tonight and watch this scene over and over again. You can truly see the double-crossing look in Gordonís eyes as he sits there, basking in Budís falsely earned trust, all the while knowing that he is going to stab him in the back and sell off his fatherís airline as soon as he gets his hands on it. One has to wonder how many times Shalala had to watch that scene before she perfected the exact same look. See any parallels to our good friend Shalala, who, as we all know, was quoted as saying that she would not leave the Big East, that the Big East is where Miami belongs? My question is, did she put the ACC on hold to supply that quote, or did she put them on speakerphone so that they could all have a good laugh about it later?
The most memorable part of the movie has to be the "greed is good" speech by Gordon Shalala (Freudian slip). At least Gekko was talking about hundreds of millions of dollars - Shalala is nowhere near the size a player she likes to pretend to be. Miami is making this move for fewer than three million bones (according to most reports), with no real guarantee that she will actually see that much money (due to the reliance on projected TV contract values).
The next great scene: Gordon punching Bud in the face in Central Park, talking down to him as if he (Gordo) is the better person, much like Miami is backhanding VT.
The movie ends with Bud going to jail for several months for his association with the evil Gekko much like VT will be hurt - for a short while - as Miamiís short-sighted greed and holier-than-though attitude destroys the Big East.
My favorite part of the movie comes when Gordy realizes that Bud gets the last laugh. You see, Gekkoís judgment was clouded by his own childish pride. His blatant lying, back stabbing, (and in the case of Syracuse who does not want to go) bullying, reminds me of the big kid on the playground in elementary school. You know the guy that failed kindergarten twice and was held back in the 6th grade because his social skills were not up to the level of the 7th graders who were already two years his junior. He was the kid that took your Juicy-Juice, and square piece of three-day-old cafeteria pizza - not because he really wanted it but because you really wanted it. This kid was taller than the entire 6th grade class combined and the fact that he could grow a mustache faster than your father was, at the very least, a little intimidating. Gekkoís lifestyle clouded his judgment so much that he was unable to see that Bud had become the bigger fish. Bud took the high road and would be getting out of jail fairly quickly while Gordo had damned himself for the rest of his life.
I can not wait until Miami and Shalala play this scene over and over in their heads a few years from now, when they are again operating in the red as a member of the ACC. Hey, maybe then they can jump to the PAC-10 for an extra million, after which they could jump to the Big 12, and then maybe they could move to the MAC and WAC as well. Like some stockbrokers who jump from firm to firm, Miami and Shalala can take those checks every couple of years, each worth just a little more than the last. What a fabulous way to build continuity, school spirit, rivalries, and a great fan base for their sports programs. Welcome to the Shalala-Palooza tour, coming soon to a conference near you!
But letís not forget that all of these things, these things that make college football the greatest sport around, are not really whatís important. These things are second fiddle to Shalalaís ego. I can honestly picture her in front of a mirror reciting the greed is good segment word for word, practicing for her Oscar acceptance speech.
And what about poor Darryl Hannah? How does she come out in all of this mess? Do you think that BCís feeble neck will get leash burn from being pulled around by its choker collar, forced to sit and stay while Shalala ponders her next conference jump? Oh, but letís not be too hard on Miamiís opening act, Miamiís pawn -- no not pawn Ö groupie -- nope, that doesnít quite work either Ö how about Miamiís "yes-man." Please tell me you have seen the IBM Business Solutions commercial. You know the one, where the executives sit around a conference table wondering if the new truth machine that sits in front of them really works. So as a test they ask the timid, overweight, middle-management lackey what he thinks and he stutters in reply, "I donít think. Iím a yes-man." Classic Boston College.
Just a word of advice to BC; It will be difficult to grow your own backbone if you are constantly bent over kissing Gordon Gekkoís feet. Shalala is using you to get what she wants and you are kidding yourself if you think she wonít dump you like a broke boyfriend when she has the misplaced notion that it will help her in some short-sighted way.
Just remember that in the end, everyone is better off without Gordon Gekko around. The ACC will figure that out soon enough.