Take 2: Is the ACC's Coastal Division ahead of the Atlantic?

It's been five years since a Coastal Division team won an ACC title, and in the last four ACC championship games, the Atlantic had the heavy favorite each time. Since 2011, FSU and Clemson have dominated the league in terms of both wins (FSU has 48, Clemson 42 and the next closest are Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech with 33), and hype. But as we get set for the media to weigh in at ACC kickoff next week, the tide may be shifting. With troubled offseasons at both Clemson and FSU and a rising tide at Georgia Tech and other Coastal programs, is this the year the balance of power shifts? ACC bloggers Matt Fortuna and David Hale debate.

Fortuna says the Atlantic is still king: Look, Georgia Tech did the ACC a huge favor last year by routing an SEC West team in the Capital One Orange Bowl. The Yellow Jackets shouldn't be sneaking up on anyone for the foreseeable future. Maybe they will win the whole ACC this season, and that certainly would be a strong step in the right direction for a Coastal Division that has not won the league since the last time Jim Harbaugh was a college coach. But there is still a triumvirate atop the Atlantic Division that has proven to be more reliable than not in answering key questions year after year.

Sure, Florida State lost a Heisman winner and faces a litany of offseason issues, but the Seminoles have still won three straight ACC titles despite huge NFL draft hits and plenty of staff turnover in the past several years.

Yes, Clemson lost seven starters from the nation's top defense (and has had its own bumpy offseason), but the Tigers have managed to post four straight 10-win seasons despite losing record-setting skill players during that time.

Can Louisville replace 10 guys who were just drafted this May? Well, the Cardinals did manage to go 9-4 last year in a new league with a new head coach despite losing a first-round quarterback.

Point is, the status of the Atlantic has not been built up overnight, and it will not come down overnight. North Carolina, Pitt and Virginia made some key hires, but those three teams have plenty to build on from last year's losing campaigns. Duke deserves all of the credit it has gotten the last three years, but the Blue Devils face their own challenges in 2015 after losing much of their foundation from this resurrection.

The fact of the matter is that we deem the league "wide open" every year because the two teams that, at least in theory, should be controlling the division's penthouse have underwhelmed. Virginia Tech hasn't been the same since 2011, and Miami … well, we're all still waiting on Miami.

The headlines in your media days preview for the Coastal division make reference to two coaches on the hot seat: Al Golden and Mike London. If things go south early, you can possibly extend that warmth to Chapel Hill and Blacksburg. Said uncertainty is just one more reason you can bet on the Atlantic again reigning supreme over the Coastal this fall.

Hale says the Coastal is better from top to bottom: There was probably a fair argument to be made that the Coastal had already been the more balanced of the two divisions before, but the distinctions are even more clear in 2015. While FSU and Clemson may still be the most talented teams in the ACC, Georgia Tech made its case that it can do battle with the big boys by beating Mississippi State in last year’s Orange Bowl. With Justin Thomas back and a defense that should be improved, there’s every reason to think that as we start 2015, it’s the Yellow Jackets who are the best team in the league.

Now look down the depth chart: Virginia Tech may have the nation’s best defense along with a host of talented young offensive players. Pittsburgh has two of the most electric stars in the country in James Conner and Tyler Boyd, and now it has a defensive guru leading the team. After three straight bowl games, Duke isn’t just an upstart, but a real contender. Miami certainly hasn’t met expectations, but Brad Kaaya is a legitimate star. North Carolina already had a dynamic offense, then it added a championship-winning defensive coordinator this offseason. And flip-flop Virginia’s schedule with NC State’s, and we’d be talking about the Hoos as a sure-fire bowl team.

In other words, there’s a clear elite team, the possibility of a few more, and good units all the way down the list. The same can’t be said for the Atlantic, where Syracuse and Wake Forest are projected among the worst Power 5 teams in the country.

Sure, this whole debate may look silly if Virginia Tech’s offense struggles once again or if Gene Chizik can’t make a dent in UNC’s defensive woes, but it certainly feels like there’s more excitement on the Coastal side than there has been in years, and that’s a good thing for the ACC as a whole. If the Hokies and Canes can shrug off the annual disappointments and the Blue Devils and Panthers can become players on a national stage, the image of the whole league changes dramatically. This may just be the year it happens.