NOT MUCH compares to the kickoff of the college football season. Consider: By this time next week, the first game of the season for West Virginia and Marshall will be in the books.
The Frontyard Brawl is in the offing. It's almost here. WVU fans are excited about their team's first foray into the Big 12. Marshall fans are excited to see the next step in the Doc Holliday era.
Both seasons start at noon Saturday in Morgantown. Marshall cornerback Derrick Thomas, a Penn State transfer, can't wait for the visit to Touchdown City.
"We're excited," he said. "We're very excited. Everybody on the team is excited. That's all we talk about."
That's all both teams will talk about this week.
Holliday will be asked about his WVU roots. In addition, he'll be asked about the Mountaineers he recruited as part of Bill Stewart's staff.
Exactly how many are still on WVU's team?
"Too many of them," Holliday said with a smile. "Unfortunately, a few pretty good ones - Geno [Smith], Stedman [Bailey] and Jorge Wright. Those are the main three that are still there."
There will be the angle of familiarity. Marshall QB Rakeem Cato, a product of Miami [Fla.] Central, chimed in early.
"I know Geno Smith, Stedman Bailey, Ivan McCartney and a couple others [from Miramar High in Miami]," he said. "One of my former offensive linemen in high school, Marquis Lucas, plays [reserve] right guard. I know a couple guys. A rival of ours, Eric Kinsey [of Miami Northwestern], plays defensive end."
There will be the angle of the dying series, which WVU leads 11-0 and is favored to extend to 12-0. It became a political football of sorts, first for ex-MU coach Bob Pruett, then Sen. Joe Manchin and then WVU athletic director Oliver Luck.
But ultimately the focus will fall to the players.
Most in the Mountain State know what to expect from some of the leading characters. WVU quarterback Smith is steady and effective. Ditto receiver Bailey. WVU receiver Tavon Austin is lethal. MU receiver Aaron Dobson is a beast.
But the wild card in the game is unquestionably Cato, a true sophomore who started nine games last year. As a true freshman, he completed 59.9 percent of his passes last season and threw for 2,059 yards with 15 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.