Washington State University Football Field

Ol’ Crimson, Cougar Fans, and College GameDay

Everyone cheer! ESPN’s College GameDay finally came to Pullman!

What? You don’t understand the significance?  I bet whether or not you’re a college football fan, you will appreciate the story leading up to the October 20, 2018, broadcast. It’s a tale of school spirit, perseverance, and small-town pride.

If you’re not familiar with the national broadcast, College GameDay is a Saturday morning program about NCAA football games. Each week the cast and crew set-up and broadcast from a different campus. However, they had never appeared at Washington State University.

Ol’ Crimson Waves

In 2003 one of WSU’s alumni, Tom Pounds, decided that Cougar-nation (WSU fans) needed to be represented on the program. He waved Ol’ Crimson in the background. From that beginning, the Ol’ Crimson booster club formed and for fifteen years has arranged for the flag to appear on the College GameDay broadcast. See some of their pictures here.

As the proud parent of a WSU alum, one of my favorite things is to spot that flag every week and I’m not the only one.

It kept showing up, appearing in the background right in frame every Saturday morning. Ol Crimson became a staple in the wee hours on the west coast, and even as the football team struggled later in the day that flag became a reason to wake up early. You had to make sure it was still there, and that the streak was intact.

Brian Floyd. “College GameDay’s 15-Year Journey to Pullman Was Worth the Wait.” Cougcenter.com, 23 Oct. 2018, 10:50am PDT

The Palouse Migration

Washington State University is located in the small town of Pullman, population approximately 33,000. From Seattle, the drive takes over four hours, from Spokane about one. The southeastern part of the state features unique geography formed by glaciers, and floods, is referred to as The Palouse. Photographer, Howard Frisk, featured the area in his book, The Seven Wonders of Washington State.

I traveled to Pullman many times while my son was a student there. When the town fills up, hotel rooms are difficult to find. I spent one weekend in my son’s dorm room (that trek to the women’s shower was interesting), and another (graduation weekend) on an air mattress in my son’s apartment. I can’t imagine the technical issues faced when the GameDay cast and crew descended on the area. Although Pullman did declare a state of emergency to deal with the crowds. See this article.

This was the city and school in its finest hour. It was a place where friends — family — trekked across state and country, many making plans at the last minute because of a gravitational pull that screamed you have to be here. They slept on floors, couches, and crammed into hotel rooms, improvising plans and rides because you really did have to be here.

Brian Floyd. “College GameDay’s 15-Year Journey to Pullman Was Worth the Wait.” Cougcenter.com, 23 Oct. 2018, 10:50am PDT

Game Day Dawns

So when the appearance was announced, see the press release here, people around these parts went crazy. I thought it might be humorous if just one guy with a flag turned up-after all the show airs at six am Pacific time, but that would NEVER happen. Everyone, even non-cougs, watched the broadcast. According to an article in the Seattle Times over two million viewers tuned in. Since I no longer have a WSU student, I watched from the comfort of my couch. (For a first hand description, I highly recommend this excellent article by Brian Floyd.)

The broadcast did not disappoint. In one of my favorite show segments, Lee Corso makes his pick by donning the headgear of the team mascot. Watch his choice below.

In the end, the weather was perfect, the crowd energized, and the team won the game! The WSU Cougars beat the Oregon Ducks, final score 34-20. Also, reports are that Ol’ Crimson will still make it’s weekly appearance in the GameDay Crowd.

I’ll be watching, how about you?

2 thoughts on “Ol’ Crimson, Cougar Fans, and College GameDay”

  1. I fall into the category of people who don’t understand the significance, but I cringe-chuckled a lot at the image of you having to find the girls’ shower after sleeping on an air mattress in your son’s dorm. I think I might have skipped the shower that day!

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