Kansas State's football team got through spring practice without once strapping on helmets and shoulder pads or taking the field.
The coronavirus pandemic and subsequent shelter-in-place orders left the Wildcats no choice. Zoom meetings and remote film sessions were the order of the day, and workouts were dictated by what equipment individual players had available at home.
But now the focus shifts to the summer and fall, specifically when and if there will be a college football season, and if so, what it will look like.
K-State coach Chris Klieman said last week during a video teleconference that he and athletic director Gene Taylor already had discussed the possibilities and how long it would take to get his team ready when the time comes.
"Assuming we would start on time — and I don't know if that's an accurate deal — if we were in by July 13, I think we could start practice on Aug. 1," Klieman said. "Now, take that back however you want to take it, if we end up starting at the end of September.
"That's the challenge for everybody and for our players, not knowing when that would be."
What Klieman is certain of, he said, is the importance of bringing football back as soon as possible.
"It's kind of the fabric of our society," he said. "I would hate to imagine going through the fall and not driving by a high school stadium or having my son, who's going to be a junior at Manhattan High, getting ready for a high school practice, a high school season.
"Because that is so much fun, and those kids, they don't know how many years they're playing as a young player. I think it's so important for those guys to have that ability to compete and be on a team from a younger player's perspective."
And that's just at the grassroots level.
"When you look at college and the NFL, our world needs sports — they need every sport — and football brings everybody together," Klieman added. "Now that may be unique this year, if it brings everybody together, but in the same respect, we have to find a way to play it.
"I think financially as much as anything, because it will help every other sport and it will help us and help our university from the revenue standpoint."
Taylor agreed that the uncertainty makes budget projections a major challenge.
"Just trying to plan around the what-ifs with football," he said.
That said, Taylor isn't abandoning hope.
"I still think the goal is to get a football season in this fall," he said. "Whether it starts on time or not, I would probably say the chance it starts Sept. 5 is not real high right now.
"But a later start, mid-September or even early October, and trying to get as many games in as possible, I think is a little more realistic."
Depending on the circumstances, Klieman said, the Wildcats may have to take an old-school approach to getting ready for the season. The good news is he has a veteran staff that knows what that would entail.
"I talked to Tui (Mike Tuiasosopo, defensive tackles coach) and Buddy (Wyatt, defensive ends) and Van (Malone, assistant head coach) about this. When we played college ball from the late 80s to around 1990, everybody did stuff on their own in the summer anyway. You better come in on Aug. 1 and be ready to go.
"Now you had two-a-days and sometimes three-a-days to get yourself in shape, but everybody was challenged. That's what we've kind of mentioned to our guys, is just be ready when that time comes."
All they can do now is make contingency plans for different scenarios.
"(Athletic directors) and head coaches aren't going to make that decision," Taylor said. "That's going to be based on governors and presidents of universities, and obviously medical personnel are going to help us formulate that decision."
And that's the hard part.
"I just know this: my last game I played, I was a senior and man, I cried by eyes out when I finally finished up playing," said Klieman, who played defensive back at Northern Iowa from 1986-90. "I knew I wasn't playing at the next level.
"And I see all these seniors we have, that have aspirations — and maybe they will get a chance to play at the next level — to have things taken away and maybe not play a full 12 games, or whatever that may be, and all of a sudden they get it cut short. It’s a game that’s only played for so long, and you only get so many opportunities every year — you only typically play 12 in 365 days. That’s a tough pill to swallow if we can’t have it.”