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What will Martin Stadium look like this fall?

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NCAA Football: Montana State at Washington State James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

If you’re a Washington State Cougars football season ticket holder, will you be in Martin Stadium this fall? And not by choice, I mean. Will fans be allowed inside to watch Nick Rolovich’s first season as head coach?

WSU President Kirk Schulz has repeatedly said there will be some form on in-person classes this fall. He’s also said he expects there to be college football. But will fans be allowed inside? As Michael pointed out this week, KREM reporter Tim Pham asked fans on Twitter if they’d attend a game if only 25% of the total capacity could be filled. Would you?

That got the CougCenter authors thinking. How would WSU go about picking the 25% who could be allowed in, in that scenario? How would that 25%—about 8,000 individuals—be dispersed in the stadium?

One idea floated in our Slack chat was to allow only students to enter. If you’re an alum and a season ticket holder, why not let the students own this season? They’ll likely be attending classes in a non-traditional format. Let them own the stadium for a season. Some of them had their high school spring sports season axed, and returning college students missed out on all sorts of springtime fun.

Another idea is to do some sort of Bennett Ball contest, a la 2006 when students had to go on a sort of scavenger hunt around campus to secure tickets to the NCAA Tournament. This (bad) idea will surely be welcomed by everybody, right?

Players’ families will probably want to be there, so perhaps some seats are set aside for them among the 8,000.

If there are 8,000 people allowed inside Martin Stadium, they most certainty won’t be allowed to be packed together. I say we put cardboard cutouts in unoccupied seats. Pump crowd noise in through the P.A. system—but only when WSU is on defense, of course. Hell, pump booing noises in whenever the Cougs are flagged. I’m open to creative ideas on this one.

WSU could also opt for less than 8,000—I’m betting there will be zero fans in stadiums this fall—and go with one fan per section and make some sort of contest out of it.

Whatever it looks like in the stadium, it’ll also look different on TV. As a cup half full kind of guy, I see the empty seats as an advertising opportunity. After all, these games will be on TV. WSU could sell advertising spots on the open seats and the TV networks could sell digital spots there as well. There’s going to be a huge budget hole because of this COVID-19 stuff. You have to find ways to fill it. Question is, which entity will benefit—the school or the TV network?

Let’s just hope things are good enough for students to be on campus and fall sports can be played. This post is football-centric, and that’s because of the revenues it generates, but soccer and volleyball are primed for sustained success as well. Those sports aren’t talked about through all of this, but we should hope those athletes are able to play, too.

It’s only May 16, and fall sports are still a way off, so a hundred different things could change between now and then. But it’s still fun to imagine what the 2020 fall sports season will look like.

Links

A GIF of a tumbleweed in the desert is appropriate here. This isn’t unusual for this time of year, but there is no coverage of WSU athletics out on the Interwebs right now, so these non-WSU links will have to do.

Staff picks: Who's on the cusp of emerging as the next 'it' coach in college football? - CBSSports.com
Our staff shines a spotlight on their favorite up-and-coming young coaches in college football

Pac-12, Mountain West in danger of being left behind if college football returns to play in 2020 - CBSSports.com
The states of California and Oregon may make it difficult for entire conferences to start up on the West Coast

College football players are training at home by pushing trucks and lifting books
With student-athletes restricted from campuses, we look at how players are staying in shape and how their respective programs are holding them accountable.