I was all set to ignore the preseason polls when they came out. Sure, if I had a free moment I'd throw up another bitter rant about the fix being in for the BCS already (I can churn one of those out in a minute thirty-five flat) but otherwise, it's a preseason poll, which should be greeted with a collective Eh. But then the coaches went and put UNC 20th.
USA Today, alas, has abandoned their practice of releasing the coaches' individual ballots, so we don't know who thinks so highly of the Heels to start the season. The ACC voters are almost identical to last year's crew: Frank Beamer (VT), Bobby Bowden (FSU), David Cutcliffe (Duke), Jim Grobe (Wake), Tom O'Brien (NCSU) , and Butch Davis. Cutcliffe is the newbie, replacing the now unemployed Tommy Bowden. 20th puts the Heels as the fourth and final ranked ACC squad, behind Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, and Florida State, three teams picked by the ACC media to finish first and second in the Coastal and first in the Atlantic, respectively. They're also the three teams who got the most preseason championship votes, at 69, 7, and 7. Six other ACC squads made the also receiving votes category.
No Big East teams mad the poll, a fact that I don't attribute to the fact that coaches think the conference is a wasteland, but that no one knows who's coming out of there. In fact, if I could breakdown the individual coaches' ballots, I'm pretty sure Generic Big East team would place 18th. I'll try it with the AP poll when it comes out, in fact. That's probably also the explanation for the cluster of Atlantic teams just off the grid, with everybody else in that division at least garnering votes. The Atlantic is wide open, while the Coastal is a two-tiered league, unless the Hokies extend it to a third tier by living up to their preseason hype. They won't, by the way.
The poll's faith in the Heels hasn't cheered me up much, by the way. UNC last cracked a preseason poll in 1998, on their way to a disappointing 7-5 season. In fact, Carolina has ended up unranked in nine of the fourteen years the made the AP preseason poll, so it doesn't mean much of anything until the team hits the field.