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Chaos returns to ACC Coastal with Georgia Tech's flop

We were the architects of our own demise.

We prescribed ourselves a heavy dose of Georgia Tech buzz for nine months, playing right into the ACC Coastal Division’s subterfuge. It was the cruelest of entrapments, allowing the preseason suppositions, coupled with a penchant for early-season overreactions, to make us believe that Coastal Chaos was finally thwarted. The Yellow Jackets, as predicted, were diving and pitching toward the top 10, confirming the summer hype that Georgia Tech would win the division, possibly the ACC and maybe the whole darn thing.

Four weeks into the season, the Yellow Jackets are 2-2 and in the Coastal Division cellar at 0-1. And it turns out Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson was the one playing the role of oddball scientist who nobody believes until it’s too late.

“You have anointed this team as national champs,” he sarcastically said Aug. 11. “You ought to watch them practice.”

We’ve since watched them play, and Coastal Chaos has been elevated to Coastal Calamity.

After one month, no Power 5 division has more losses than the Coastal (10). The only given in the division is that Virginia isn’t going to win it. OK, Virginia probably won’t win it.

Duke leads the division at 1-0 but lost at home to Northwestern, which looks to be pretty good but had four Big Ten wins the last two seasons. North Carolina lost to South Carolina, whose 2-2 start has Steve Spurrier coordinating property viewings with beach community realtors. Pittsburgh has a loss and new quarterback. Virginia Tech’s best play against East Carolina the last two years was a punt. Georgia Tech’s offense was humbled, and the most memorable part of Virginia’s 1-3 September was a slumping, demoralized fan.

Miami has … wait Miami is 3-0! Forget the 23-point blown lead or the banners flying over south Florida; it’s all about the U in the Coastal. The Hurricanes are undefeated and can make a national statement with back-to-back road games at Cincinnati and No. 11 Florida State.

In all seriousness, it’s only Sept. 28 and a Coastal team could emerge as a team with the ability to climb the polls in the season’s second half in the same fashion as Georgia Tech in 2014. The Yellow Jackets didn’t earn a permanent place in the AP Top 25 last year until Week 12.

With the College Football Playoff system, the ACC needed the Coastal to provide a top-10 team and maybe another top-25 team or two sprinkled in. Miami was supposed to be that perennial power but hasn't been, and Virginia Tech is in a lull, so Clemson and Florida State have carried the flag from the Atlantic for several years now. The league needed another team to trumpet next to the Tigers and Seminoles.

They thought was it would be Georgia Tech in 2015, and with the Yellow Jackets, Tigers and Seminoles playing a round-robin this fall, there was the opportunity for some résumé-building wins for the trio. In an ideal world, an undefeated and a one-loss team from among those three would meet for the ACC championship in December for a final playoff impression.

Instead, the Coastal was 3-7 in the nonconference season against Power 5 teams, with two additional losses to Group of 5 schools. Three teams already have multiple losses. The Pac-12 North is the only other division without at least two undefeated teams, but out west they are already ankle deep in conference play; three of the six Pac-12 North schools have a league loss. Georgia Tech and Duke are the only Coastal teams to have played an ACC game already.

Maybe Miami will rise to the top, the way the ACC hoped when they created the divisions before the 2005 season, but it’s more likely the league is in a familiar disarray after months of believing Georgia Tech would provide the Coastal with a playoff contender.

Part of the blame lies with us, ignoring the years of madness and mediocrity. With the ACC the early favorite to be squeezed out of the playoff, however, we wanted to believe Operation Coastal Chaos was foiled.

Well, it’s only just begun.