Down the stretch last fall, a good buddy of mine hopped on the North Carolina Tar Heels’ bandwagon. He’s a big fan of this guy, Ryan Switzer. Why exactly, I couldn’t tell you.
Now, contrary to popular belief, being a bandwagon fan is not a bad thing. If your hometown team sucks, or if you lack one altogether, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with taking up an alternate rooting interest.
Doing so can revitalize your love for the game. Believe me, as a Michigan fan that spent his high school and college years watching Rich Rodriguez and Brady Hoke coached teams, I know. If you have a true love for the game, you’ll be able to pick up that side team no problem.
Anyway, I had been watching last year’s Heels somewhat closely ever since they’d proven me wrong, winning at Georgia Tech in early October. Then, when they popped Pitt on the road at the end of the month, I was ready to ride the Fighting Michael Jordans all the way to a surprise playoff appearance.
I called for the upset in the ACC Championship Game, but the Heels and I can’t get no (dunh nuh nuh) satis-faction. So, I’m here now to double down.
ACC Ripe for Picking
The Tar Heels are the team to beat on the East Coast this fall.
A quick aside: UNC’s athletic director’s name is Bubba Cunningham. Without knowing anything about him personally, that’s a man I want to see succeed, if only because we’ll get to hear the name Bubba Cunningham more often.
Clemson is good, yes. DeShaun Watson will likely be the best quarterback in the draft class. Florida State is also good. Dalvin Cook will be a top pick, too. The Tigers and the Seminoles will come up short this season, though.
What Clemson did last year was captivating. We all wanted that team to succeed so we could watch Dabo Swinney act a fool after big wins. Realistically, a repeat performance will be tremendously difficult.
Say goodbye to seven key members of last year’s defense, including ends Shaw Lawson and Kevin Dodd, corner Mackensie Alexander, and safety T.J. Green, who all went in the first two rounds of the draft.
Overwhelming firepower only takes you so far when you lack proper fortifications. I’ll err on the side of Clemson’s replacements not being as sturdy as the now pros they’re taking over for.
Florida State is the new USC. That 2013 national championship was supposed to be a springboard for FSU, not the pinnacle.
We keep hearing about how loaded Jimbo Fisher’s group is but we’ve not seen enough supporting evidence the past two years to legitimize the hype. The Seminoles have lost the benefit of the doubt. They’ve got a lot to prove in order to earn it back.
North Carolina wins the ACC this year because it replaces its gamebreaker with a steady hand that can utilize all the returning talent around him. Mitch Trubisky is taking over for Marquise Williams and with a name like that he’s got to be good.
Five All-ACC selections return on the offensive side. Switzer, along with running back Elijah Hood, receiver Mack Hollins, guard Caleb Peterson, and tackle Jon Heck will all be reliable cogs in the UNC machine. Receiver Bug Howard, tackle Bentley Spain, and center Lucas Crowley are all back as well.
Interestingly enough, former Illinois head coach Tim Beckman is now a volunteer coach for the Tar Heels. Beckman, who was fired almost a year ago to the day for mistreatment of players, will help scout and evaluate film.
This is an excellent move by head coach Larry Fedora, who’s familiar with Beckman from their time together on the 2007 Oklahoma State staff. Basically, Fedora is getting a major bargain, adding a veteran defensive-minded coach with plenty of incentive to get his act together at no cost.
Normally, having to replace a quarterback, particularly one of Williams’ stature, is a great way for me to not pick you to do much. However, the progress report on Trubisky and the supporting cast he’ll be able to lean on have me sipping the Carolina blue kool-aid.
No, it won’t be either one of the usual suspects representing the ACC in this season’s playoff. It’ll be the team whose bandwagon is about to pick up many more interested travelers along the way.
Feature image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons