It won't be a surprise when Luke Fickell leads the Ohio State Buckeyes out of the tunnel and onto the field Saturday at Ohio Stadium, but it will be the start of a new era in Columbus.
Jim Tressel and his sweater vests are gone in the wake of the tattoo scandal. So is Terrelle Pryor, who is now with the Oakland Raiders.
In their places are Fickell, who is getting a season-long audition as the Buckeyes' interim coach, and the duo of Joe Bauserman and Braxton Miller.
And the question marks don't end there. Several players, among them tailback Daniel "Boom" Herron, will miss the first five games with suspensions related to Ohio State's offseason scandal.
The news ebbed and flowed almost on a daily basis since January and culminated in Tressel's forced resignation on Memorial Day. This has been the Buckeyes' longest offseason in memory. You can be sure the players and the coaches who remain are grateful they'll finally be able to play a game and talk about something other than NCAA regulations, tattoos, suspensions and the coach who lost his job over the entire fiasco.
And yet, there is an overwhelming sense of uncertainty even as the season begins. Ohio State presented its case to the NCAA committee on infractions last month and now figures to wait most of the season for a ruling.
Will the Buckeyes lose bowl eligibility this season and even beyond?
Will Ohio State be hit with harsh scholarship penalties?
Will Tressel, like former Tennessee basketball coach Bruce Pearl, be slapped with the dreaded "show cause" tag, which would make a return to coaching extremely difficult?
And then there is the uncertainty on the field.
Will Fickell win enough to be considered for the job beyond this season or is Urban Meyer really waiting in a new home in Upper Arlington?
Meyer, oddly enough, will be part of ESPN's broadcast team for Saturday's opener. That should make for some interesting, if not downright awkward, in-game conversation.
Will Bauserman quiet critics who say he's a less talented version of Todd Boeckman and isn't a season-long answer as the Buckeyes' starting quarterback?
Will Miller, who some considered a potential upgrade over Pryor even before he arrived on campus, stake his claim to the full-time QB job by the time Ohio State visits Miami on Sept. 17 or perhaps by Oct. 1, when the Buckeyes host defending Big Ten Conference co-champion Michigan State?
Aside from 2001, when Tressel was hired at Ohio State, there has been no more hotly anticipated start to a season in Columbus.
The reason is simple.
For most of the last decade, Buckeyes fans knew what to expect going into each season. Ohio State was going to field a team with Big Ten title and national championship expectations. If the Buckeyes played to their potential and got a few breaks, they'd be a major factor when the time came to assign BCS bids.
But this time, nobody really knows what to make of Ohio State. There still is talent to burn on the roster, but Tressel's absence, Fickell's installation, the suspensions and new faces in key places - quarterback, receivers and peppered all over the defense - all combine to make the Buckeyes an unknown quantity.
What does Ohio State have?
Maybe we'll know a little more by 3 p.m. on Saturday. But the long-term answers won't reveal themselves for weeks or months.
It's going to be an interesting fall along the Olentangy River.