Tommy: Filling Up the Bulletin Board

Boy do I love this time of year. To me, you just cannot beat sitting on one of North Carolina's beaches sipping a cold beverage and watching the world go by. Doing just that last week while on my family vacation, I had the opportunity to check out, and reflect on, the football preview magazines which are on the newstands.

While taking a break from the usual beach reading (Grisham, Sanderford, et al), I picked up a copy of The Sporting News College Football Preview one of my brothers purchased. Now, a little background here. For many years, I just could not wait for all the preseason publications to come out and I'd buy ‘em all. By the time I was done, I'd have a stack of magazines a foot tall, each telling me how good or how bad the Tar Heels were going to be (Yea, they cover other teams, but who cared?!)

Then, being priced out of buying all the magazines, I would pick up those that had Carolina ranked in a respectable place, at least according to my taste.

Nowadays? I don't buy any of them and generally don't read them either. (Ok, I do still buy one, but I'm not getting paid to advertise so I won't say which.) The reason I save my money is that 95 percent of the time the magazines contain information that is quite dated and many times so far off base it's amusing. With the Internet providing us with up to the second news (this website for instance), it's hard to justify paying for outdated material on a subject where better info is simply a click away.

The Sporting News has coach John Bunting's Tar Heels are ranked No. 8 in the ACC (TSN isn't the only magazine with the Heels that low. Lindy's and Athlon's also have the Heels No. 8, while Street and Smith rank them No. 7)

They say the Heels lost a ton on defense, and they certainly did. Teams don't lose players the quality of Peppers and Sims without having some drop off. But throwing the Heels down in eighth?

But ranking the Tar Heels that low is fine. Coach Bunting and staff proved their worth last year, motivating a stagnant group of Heels to an 8-5 record including the FSU and Auburn thrashings. Placing Carolina below everyone but Duke simply juices the engine of the Tar Heel gridiron express, giving the Heels that much more determination to prove it's worth. Carolina has talent and Carolina has solid coaching staff with the potential to be great. With an exciting schedule beginning August 31st, the season can't get here soon enough.

The main problem I have with this particular preview magazine is the position-by-position rankings for the ACC. (Before anyone gets the wrong idea, I must say I love The Sporting News weekly magazine and have been a subscriber for nearly ten years.)

Credibility is a big thing in journalism, probably the most important. Writers are respected only when they earn that respect and doing ‘your homework' is one skill that a high percentage of respected writers possess. That said, one must merely read the Inside Carolina message boards to see how one bad article or one factually incorrect article can cause any and all respect earned to fly away.

All that said, how TSN can rank the Tar Heel receiving corps No. 8 in the ACC is totally beyond comprehension. And, the ranking is made with Bosley Allen in the mix! Take away Allen, and there is still no logical reason to rank the Heel WRs that low. In formulating those rankings, someone missed the boat entirely. Or, as with many ‘national' magazines, someone relied on bad information or preconceived notions, or they simply pulled schools from a hat. Maybe the magazine has stock in bulletin board companies? Lost Credibility – 1, TSN – 0.

(Want more evidence of ‘not doing your homework'? TSN's rankings have Duke's offensive backfield at No. 2 in the ACC while Carolina's, with Darian Durant, is No. 8 – ‘nuff said.)

Last season, the Tar Heel wideouts were one of, if not the, best groups in the conference. From the time Sam Aiken broke a tackle on third down to get a much needed first down and followed that play up with "The Dive" against Florida State, Carolina's receivers were on fire. Stats aside, Carolina's rise from 0-3 to finish 8-5 backs that up.

This season, Aiken and Chesley Borders should start and I'll say you'd be hard pressed to find seven teams in the country with a better pair of starters. Jawarski Pollock should contend for ACC Rookie of the Year honors and will be as exciting as any player in recent memory. Add in a healthy Brandon Russell and the possible impact of first year guys Derrele Mitchell and Ian Firestone and the Tar Heel passing game should be fun to watch.

Hopefully someone will be ‘doing their homework' this season…


Tommy Ashley can be reached at carolina93@nc.rr.com.

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