Here's an example of a generation gap: Your grandfather walked 10 miles uphill in both directions -- through driving snow, mind you -- just to attend school and get an education.

Your college freshman? He'll only go to football games if you heat his seat.

Like it or not, that's the predicament Michigan State finds itself in.

In an interview with ABC57, Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis said his school is brainstorming a number of ideas to entice students back into football stadiums. Despite trotting out an impressive football program that won last year's Rose Bowl and was ranked in the Top 10 entering last weekend, Michigan State has struggled to maintain student interest.

During a nationally televised win over Nebraska earlier this year, the school was embarrassed to have huge sections of its student seating completely barren -- and broadcast to the entire country.


Hollis notes that many other schools are struggling to attract student fans, and he identifies a number of reasons for this national epidemic, including high-definition broadcasts and the appeal of watching in sports bars.

Those environments are cozier than a brutal, exposed-to-the-elements outdoor stadium. Granted, that's part of the allure of football, particularly in a cold-weather, blue-collar setting like East Lansing, Michigan.

But the times, they are a-changin'.

Hollis didn't offer too much insight into the planning, so either the heated seats proposal is just that -- a proposal -- or it's an innovation Michigan State wants to play close to the chest.

But Hollis is the man that first brought hockey into football stadiums with the 2001 home game against Michigan that led to the NHL's copying the idea with its Heritage, Winter Classic and Stadium Series games. He also staged a basketball game between the Spartans and North Carolina on the deck of aircraft carrier off the coast of San Diego. If anyone's going to reinvent cold, gray student seating as a tropical oasis among the frigid Michigan tundra, it's Hollis.

The bigger question is this: How many bodies are about to roll over in their graves?

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