(KTEN) — The past couple of football seasons have been tough, with COVID creating problems for university sports programs.

Some schools even canceled their season. 

Between the economic and mental drain, a "normal" collegiate football season has been sorely missed. 

"If you average $10,000 for participants, we are about 30 student athletes above what we were at two years ago," said Austin College athletic director David Norman. "Obviously, just the revenue from our streaming and concessions – it is hard to put a number on it because we do not live and die behind it – but yes, it did impact us financially."

With the pandemic in the rear view mirror however, there is a different vibe on campus, and everyone is excited to support their university. 

"A lot more relaxed environment, and a lot more upbeat environment," said Southeastern Oklahoma State University President Thomas Newsom as the Savage Storm prepares for its home opener this week.

The season is kicking off this Thursday for our local universities and they are expecting the largest turnout since the start of the pandemic.