"We've played with that a little bit as a framework to start as we move forward and think about what we'd ultimately be allowed to do", Smith told reporters Wednesday.
Smith thinks that number of fans could be kept at a safe distance from one another in the stadium, which seats about 105,000. The NCAA said Wednesday voluntary on-campus athletic activities for football and women's and men's basketball can begin June 1.
Smith also says Ohio State is ready to open the 15,000-square-foot Woody Hayes Athletic Center to student-athletes starting June 8 if the NCAA allows it.
Complicating matters is that college football is largely a regional sport, and with decisions being made at the state level instead of nationally, conducing a full 12-game regular season schedule could still be a challenge. "So could we implement the current CDC guidelines, state guidelines around physical distancing, mask requirements and all those types of things in an outdoor environment and have obviously significantly less fans than we are used to?"
"I just think we have the talent, skill, and (stadium) capacity to provide an opportunity for a certain number of fans to have access to our particular stadium", Smith said.
"I struggled with it at the beginning, but as I've continued to have conversations, I'm becoming more comfortable with that if that is where we end up", Smith stated, adding that he is "optimistic" that a stadium with no fans won't be the case. Smith later clarified on his Twitter account that should social distancing guidelines be eased, perhaps capacity could be as many as 40-50,000 people.
"When I first heard [about games without fans] I said, 'OK, that could work, '" he said.
Ohio State's athletic director is much closer to that mark, however, than he was just a few months ago when the ongoing coronavirus pandemic brought sports to a grinding halt in mid March.
"We want to make sure (the student-athletes) are in the safest environment possible", Smith said. "Why would it be safe for the players?" "We'd come up with a strategy, but we haven't nailed that down".
Pieces are beginning to fall into place for a 2020 college football season to take place, although there is still great uncertainty as to what that season would look like.
Ohio State is scheduled to open its season at home against Bowling Green on September 5.