It was perfect symmetry. After each of the ACC Coastal's seven teams won a division title over the course of seven years, Notre Dame joined a divisionless ACC for the 2020 season and made the conference championship in its only try. In a way, that's like eight champions in eight years for a seven-team division. (The Fighting Irish even followed Coastal customs by getting stomped by Clemson in the title game.)
Barring sudden and unexpected expansion, or the ditching of divisions altogether, we will actually see a repeat champion in the Coastal this year. And based on last year's levels and this year's returning production, Miami and North Carolina have the best odds of getting it done. In this bastion of extreme parity, can either of these programs play at the top-10 levels projected of them and maybe actually challenge Clemson in the conference title game for once? Can Virginia Tech reverse last year's bad luck and make a run? Can Pitt or Virginia wreck everyone else's plans?
There's more upside in this division than we've seen in a while, but questions linger. Let's preview each team in the ACC Coastal.
Every week through the summer, Bill Connelly will preview another division from the Group of 5 and Power 5 exclusively for ESPN+, ultimately including all 130 FBS teams. The previews will include 2020 breakdowns, 2021 previews and a brief history of each team in one handy chart. The series has thus far covered the Conference USA East and West, the MAC East and West, the MWC Mountain and West, the Sun Belt West and East, the top and bottom half of the AAC, the seven Independents and the ACC Atlantic.
The Duke offense fell apart in 2019, and the defense followed suit in 2020. David Cutcliffe's Blue Devils have rebounded before, but it's difficult to predict that it'll happen again.