Wiedmer: Signs clear in South: Football season near

The grease board sits just outside the entrance to the Sports Stop shop in Hamilton Place mall. Large, red letters proclaim "40 Days Till Kickoff." At least they did Saturday.

The number of days until the first Southeastern Conference football team kicks it off will drop to 39 today, then 38 on Monday.

"We've been doing it six or seven years," said store manager Don Gilman, whose store is smartly heavy on merchandise catering to SEC schools, especially Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee.

"You can already see business picking up. Once the sign drops below 30 days, business really picks up."

The Sports Station rents space at the other end of the mall. In its window is a white University of Tennessee at Chattanooga cap signed by football coach Russ Huesman, who added the school's marketing slogan, "Restore the glory," with a black Sharpie.