July 22, 2014

UNC must take advantage of opportunity in up-for-grabs Coastal, Larry Fedora says

The Tar Heels received the second-most first-place votes in the Coastal Division in the ACC preseason poll. Can UNC make a move in a wide-open division?

Back in Chapel Hill after two days in Greensboro at the annual ACC Kickoff. My story from Monday, when the league's head coaches spent time with us lowly scribes: North Carolina has the perfect opportunity to make a move in the ACC's parity-ridden Coastal Division.

Has any division in major college football history ever been more wide open than the ACC’s Coastal appears to be entering this season? I'm not sure. Neither was Larry Fedora, who turned that question on us, and asked the reporters sitting in front of him.

Without question, though, the Coastal this season appears to be more wide open than either the Atlantic or Coastal Division has been since the ACC adopted the divisional format entering the 2005 season. Six of the seven teams in the Coastal received at least one first-place vote in the preseason media poll.

That does mean a lot? No. Not necessarily.

It does mean, though, that people covering the league have no idea what to expect. Duke received the most first-place votes, but finished second in the poll behind Miami. The Tar Heels received the second-most first-place votes, but they're behind Miami, Duke and Virginia Tech in the poll.

Georgia Tech? Pittsburgh? Both received at least one first-place vote, too.

So who knows what's going to happen. One thing we do know: UNC might never have a better shot than now to seize control of the Coastal. The Tar Heels are young, yes, but don't lack for talent. Fedora is entering his third season. The offensive systems and schemes have been established.

So why not UNC? Why not now? If Fedora's program is going to turn the corner, doesn't it seem like this would be a good time to do it? Without a dominant team or two standing in the way?

I used this comment from Fedora in the story I linked above, but it bears repeating:

“It is an opportunity that we want to take advantage of,” Fedora said of the chance to win the wide-open Coastal. “I mean, that's the thing. Because if we're going to continue to grow at the rate we want to grow and get to where we want to be, this is an opportunity that we need to seize.

“We don't need to let this slip by.”

Later during his session with writers, Fedora said, “It's time.”

Indeed, it is. Win the Coastal this season, and UNC is set up, potentially, for a nice run. The majority of the team's best players entering this season are sophomores and juniors who, presumably, would be back in 2015.

So the window wouldn't necessarily close if UNC fails to win the division this season. But if it doesn't happen now, it's fair to wonder when it might for the Tar Heels. Or if it might. The division has never been more there for the taking than it is now.

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