Proactive Measures Give Plaintiffs the Edge

The actions of the five schools who are suing for damages in the ACC's raid on the Big East have been a classic demonstration of keeping an opponent off balance.

Study just about any treatise or tome on the art of conflict fron Sun-Tzu to Schwarzkopf, and you'll find that one of the major tenets is to strike hard, maintain pressure, and keep your opponent off balance.

Those tactics are very evident in the actions of the plaintiffs and their attorneys. Have you noticed that every time the ACC has something planned, such as a conference call or a campus visit, that the plaintiffs always make another announcement or take another action before the ACC can talk about the results of their activities?

So far, it has been an almost flawless execution on the part of the five universities, and without a doubt has had a major effect on public perception.

The people at the ACC office, and the presidents and athletic directors of the ACC in favor of expansion, aren't dummies, though. There has been a change in their actions over the past couple of days that could make it more difficult for the plaintiffs to continue beating the ACC to the punch.

First, ACC attorneys and spokesmen have been decrying the tactics of the plantiffs in recent days, saying that their barrage of press releases and conference calls are "baffling", and "out of the ordinary", among other things. That response, although rather weak and mostly overshadowed, at least signified that the ACC finally acknowledged one of the strategies of the plaintiffs. It also shows that the ACC realizes that the plaintiffs are winning the battle of public perception.

Second, and perhaps more importantly, the ACC appears to have become a bit more vague about their future plans, saying only that another presidential teleconference "would not happen before next week".

By keeping their activities more quiet, the ACC might hope to avoid another plaintiff blast (legal or otherwise) that could again have an effect on the voting process or blunt the effect of whatever statements the ACC has to make.

These small tidbits might not mean much individually, but it does seem as if the ACC is finally adapting to their opponent's tactics. The ball now may be back in the Big East's court after a relatively quiet couple of days and an apparent change in the behavior of their opponents.

As Sun-Tzu wrote, "the general who thoroughly understands the advantages that accompany variation of tactics knows how to handle his troops." Will the plaintiffs, who have been magnificent so far, be able to master this "art of war" as well?

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