Don't get too excited, but LSU Athletic Director Scott Woodward thinks there will be a college football season this fall.

He said so Thursday during what was billed as a "town hall meeting" in Baton Rouge and …

Wait. A what?

A town hall meeting? How much? How many? Doesn't that break all the social-distancing rules?

Not to worry. It was your standard "virtual" town hall meeting. Like most of the new normal athletic things these days, it was strictly online, probably streaming, and available on Facebook or Zoom or some such. There was an orderly crowd of exactly one, Advocate sports columnist Scott Rabalais, addressing Woodward.

But anyway, Woodward said he thinks there will be football.

Of course, you can't do a football season on Zoom or, oddly enough, even on Twitter.

It will have to be live, in places like Tiger Stadium, which can fit 103,000 people in a relatively small area.

Woodward characterized himself as a glass-half-full kind of guy, which would mean a totally full Tiger Stadium.

"We're planning like the season is a go," Woodward said. "We are going to do that and are planning that way. I'm very bullish and I think, like Coach O (Ed Orgeron) said, we need football; this culture needs football, the state needs football, this community needs football and I'm very positive."

But, like everybody else, right now he just doesn't know.

He did say that time is on football's side.

Think about it.

With everybody quarantined and in bad need of a haircut, it might seem like it was three years ago that the sports world shut down. But in fact it's been right at three months.

As of today, we're three months from the projected start of football season.

A lot has changed in the last three months. A lot more could change in the next three months.

"So it's premature," Woodward said. "We just don't know yet. I'm planning, hoping — you always hope for the best and plan the worst — for a scenario where we're going to have a lot of butts in the seats … I'm looking for a lot of folks in the stadium."

Just probably not his parents.

"Should my parents go to the football game?" he said. "Heck no. They're octogenarians and they're at risk. I'd tell them watch it on TV, please."

As for the rest of the fans, Woodward predicted things will be a lot clearer, possibly with definitive answers, by early to mid-July.

"It's going to be on the pandemic's schedule and we're going to see how this virus goes, but I think we're progressing in the right way," Woodward said. "I think we're going to have things that we can do that are going to be very proactive as far as social distancing."

Yes, he admitted, it's possible that Tiger Stadium will be forced to operate at less than full throat, maybe 80 percent, possibly 50 percent, maybe even as low as 20 percent.

"We'll be prepared for every scenario," Woodward said.

"This is all very new territory for us, but I can assure you, we're going to do it safely; we're going to do it properly. We're willing to assume some risk and I think fans are getting to that … and they'll assume that risk."

He likened it to no different than driving on a highway — if you wanted to completely eliminate accidents, you'd have a 15-mph speed limit on interstates.

LSU, he said, will do what it can, explore all options.

"It could be temperature taking at the gate, it could be misters (in the stadium) that disinfect," he said. "Everything is on the table."

That, though, may be the easy point if Tiger Stadium's new normal capacity is something like 50,000 or even 20,000.

The big question then is, who gets in? The assumption is that the big donors would be at the top of the list.

Limited crowds could force some of the toughest decisions he makes as athletic director, particularly if capacity restrictions extend to, say, the Alabama game on Nov. 7.

"It's just too early for me to tell you what the best practices are and what they look like," Woodward said.

Translation: They're still playing it by ear.

Meanwhile, the changing of Tiger Stadium's natural turf field continues on pace, which some have taken as a good sign.

"The other people in the SEC and other colleagues, they're saying, ‘Boy, if Woodward and LSU are laying grass in Tiger Stadium, we're playing ball in the fall.'"

Woodward paused.

"I wish I had that kind of stroke."


Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at shobbs@americanpress.com

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