MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- In the middle of the day in the middle of last week, I called Alex Hammond, West Virginia's director of football operations, and he answered on the third ring.
Don't discount the achievement when dealing with arguably the busiest man in the Puskar Center. Not only that, but he was eating lunch and rather than interrupt that rare free moment, he agreed to call back afterward. And he did.
It's different now at WVU. Things are falling into place in and around the program, which is about to hire an assistant director of operations - and that's a pretty good indication about how serious the Mountaineers are taking their game as they take up residence in the Big 12 in a little fewer than eight weeks.
There seems to be a certain wavelessness in these uncharted waters.
Dana Holgorsen skipped that coach-in-waiting thing and has been in charge for just shy of a year now. His noted offense is being shaped and led by trusted assistants who know the system and who know the university, the state and the people within both. There's significant continuity with the depth chart on both sides of the ball.
After a tumultuous 18 months and events never considered, let alone witnessed, might things be settled at WVU?
Begin first and foremost with the new conference affiliation and all the dynamics involved. Travel. Hotels. Stadiums. Crowds. Weather. Recruiting. On and on. Then there's the opposition and jumping from the Big East to the Big 12 is akin to the ice cube tray to the fire.
In the past four years, WVU played three ranked Big East teams. Three! Not one conference opponent was ranked in 2008 and 2010. The 2012 Mountaineers are probably going to see three in a row when they play TCU, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma in November.
By the way, the game before that stretch? It's against Kansas State, which won 10 games last season, represented the league in the Cotton Bowl and returns a bunch of talent on offense, including its quarterback, who tied an NCAA record for rushing touchdowns at his position last season.
In all, six Big 12 teams could be ranked in the preseason poll and, who knows, Iowa State could have a number next to its name when it plays host to WVU two days after Thanksgiving.
And along for the ride in this offensively adept conference is an entirely new defensive staff and scheme. The coordinator, Joe DeForest, knows the Big 12. He spent 11 years at Oklahoma State, going as far back as the Les Miles days, so he's familiar with the way teams throw the football there.
Yet he's never been a coordinator and his reputation for his work with special teams is, at this time, greater than what he's done on defense.