Three-point stance: Is this UNC's year?

1.OK, it’s officially July, the month before things crank up, so I’m allowing the what-ifs in the back of my mind to come to the fore. The biggest -- is this the year that North Carolina becomes a national force? I thought the Tar Heels would do so last season, but they began playing games before they learned how to make a first down. As good as the defense is this season, North Carolina will progress only as far as senior quarterback T.J. Yates can take them.

2.The news that Syracuse will play Penn State in the new Meadowlands stadium in 2013 is a reminder that the Orange have a proud tradition. The Penn State rivalry once meant everything to Syracuse. The 1987 defeat of the Nittany Lions at the Carrier Dome remains one of the most emotional stadium scenes I have ever witnessed. Kudos to Penn State athletic director Tim Curley for honoring that history and not demanding a deal that tilts toward State College.

3.This is the time of year when coaches, a.k.a America’s workaholics, take off a couple of weeks. At random times Wednesday, I saw a tweet from Tulsa offensive coordinator Herb Hand in Hawaii and from Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen at Fenway Park. I’m guessing that one day this week or next, Alabama coach Nick Saban will take off an entire afternoon. A possible tweet: “Came home. Tried to take a nap. Watched film instead.”