CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Indeed, it's football season. Teams are practicing. Media guides are hitting the mailbox. Heisman Trophy campaigns are underway. (I've got my Jordan Lynch for Heisman lunchbox and my Chuckie Keeton trading card. Um ... Chuckie Keeton?)
WVU president Jim Clements, meanwhile, has been on a campaign of his own: a capital campaign with a goal of $750 million. The school is 89 percent of the way to the figure.
"It's been crazy," Clements said Thursday. "But I'm looking forward to the [football] season. It's always something special this time of the year."
It is indeed. Fans are anticipating the first football game - in WVU's case Aug. 31 against William & Mary. There are position battles. There are injury updates. Followers gobble up team news like Joey Chestnut does hot dogs.
In a little over three weeks, the Mountaineer marching band drummers will dance onto the field and the fight song will be unleashed.
The bad news for Clements: Ticket sales in Morgantown have been down. That's to be expected after last season's collapse, in addition to the loss of standouts like Geno Smith and Tavon Austin and preseason projections.
But those figures will fluctuate from year to year. Small-picture stuff.
"Hey, we're Mountaineers," Clements said of the projections. "We're tough. We're going to be competitive."
A concern raised, though, is how the school will fare in the big picture. There's been talk of the five "power" conferences, including WVU's Big 12, effectively separating themselves from the other leagues.
The Mountaineers are fortunate to be in that upper class. In the near future money will flow into the athletic department to the tune of $29 million. Had WVU been stuck in the old Big East, now the American Athletic Conference, money would be comparatively trickling in. Ask Cincinnati, Connecticut and South Florida if they'd trade places.
When that great divide is firmly established, however, will WVU, which serves a small-population state, be able to hang with the big dogs?
According to Clements, the answer is yes.
"We are one of the big dogs," said the school president. "We're in a power conference. Last year the Big 12 had the biggest payout per school, and that payout is only going to increase. Our athletic budget has been going up."