OL' CRIMSON AT GAMEDAY A GREAT TRADITION
BY ROCK HOFFMAN
COLLEGE FOOTBALL EDITOR
Philadelphia - College football and traditions go together, there are a lot of them. Some are so good that other schools will “steal” them and do their own version. Like the “team name here” Walk, such as the Vol Walk or the Tiger Walk. It’s when a team parades through the crowd on the way to the stadium three or four hours before a home game. A lot of schools have their version of the walk.
Other traditions are so unique and develop so organically that they can’t be copied. One of those is the appearance of a Washington State University Cougars flag on every College GameDay on ESPN since 2003. Back then, Tom Pounds, a 1981 graduate of the school, was just trying to get some recognition for his alma mater which was having a good season and convince ESPN to bring the traveling roadshow that is GameDay to Pullman, WA. So, on October 4, 2003, Pounds – who lives in Albuquerque, NM – was in Austin, TX for GameDay, displaying a flag he called Ol’ Crimson and a tradition was born.
When GameDay was in Philadelphia for the Army-Navy game in December it marked the 224th consecutive show that the flag was there.
“It grew out of being a Coug,” said Chris Widrig, the president of the Philadelphia chapter of the Washington State Alumni Association, who was holding the flag along with John Grunden, on that beautiful December day. “It’s Cougs representing our university and being there every week to show people what it’s like to be a Coug,”
“It’s an ambassador for Washington State University every Saturday,” said Grunden, who noted that while he was speaking two people stopped by to have their picture taken with Ol’ Crimson, “It’s amazing how many people just want to get their picture taken with Ol’ Crimson.
“On Saturday mornings everybody can be a Coug,” he said
While GameDay is always a lot of fun, Widrig noted that being there for Army-Navy is extra special.
“It’s a different College GameDay,” he said, “because of the tradition of Army-Navy, the respect that both teams have for each other. Even the respect that you see in the crowd, it’s a more somber crowd, they understand tradition, they respect tradition and they respect our tradition. It’s always a special feeling to be here.”
After some near misses – including in 2015 when GameDay came to Philadelphia for the Temple-Notre Dame game (Pullman was under consideration that week) – on October 20, 2018 GameDay finally made it to Pullman. It was the 216th appearance for Ol’ Crimson and a memorable show for all.
After humorously noting he didn’t like to rank things, GameDay host Rece Davis told FootballStories about the experience in Pullman.
“I would imagine that for the rest of my tenure on GameDay,” said Davis whose been the host of the show since 2015, “however long that might be, everybody else is playing for second. That atmosphere in Pullman on that Saturday morning was unlike anything I’d ever experienced in television.
“It was remarkable,” he continued, “they rolled out the crimson carpet, as it were. Everything fit together in that show. It almost epitomized what GameDay has become. There was a celebration of the sport, there was X and O football, that was the week we did the Tyler Trent story from Purdue [Trent was a Purdue student whose battle with terminal cancer inspired the football team].
“You name it, the passion, the pride, laugh, cry, celebrate, hopefully inspire, learn, the whole thing we strive to do every week was captured in that one trip to Pullman.”
Email Rock Hoffman at Rock@footballstories.com