Washington State Flag Gameday: The Story Behind Ol’ Crimson

washington state flag gameday

Getty The Washington State flag has been a College Gameday tradition for 15 years.

The Washington State flag deserves as much credit as anyone for finally securing ESPN’s College Gameday’s trip to Pullman. For 15 years, Cougs fans across the country have worked behind the scenes to keep the streak alive. The flag has flown at 216 consecutive College Gamedays, and Gameday’s appearance in Pullman marks the 15th year anniversary of it first flying on the show.

The idea started on a message board, where a fan came up with the idea to try to fly the flag in an effort to convince ESPN to come to Pullman. According to The Seattle Times, Tom Pounds started the flag tradition by driving from Albuquerque, New Mexico to Austin, Texas to fly the Washington State flag.

Afterwards, another alumni member reached out to Pounds to fly it in Madison, Wisconsin and the streak began. Sports Illustrated detailed the origins.

The idea started on a message board site called cougfan.com, where a fan suggested that a flag be flown at the broadcast to convince ESPN to visit Washington State, according to NCAA.com.

Tom Pounds, a Washington State alum, liked the idea and drove from his home in Albuquerque to the ESPN broadcast in Austin for the Kansas State-Texas game on Oct. 4, 2003 with the flag. His wife, Syndie, made the first Ol’ Crimson, a flag emblazoned with the Cougars’ logo. Someone saw the flag and asked Pounds if they could wave it at the Purdue-Wisconsin GameDay broadcast in Madison on Oct. 18. Pounds mailed them the flag, and the streak began.


The Washington State Flag Operation Is Organized by Ol’ Crimson Booster Club & the Streak Will Continue Even After Gameday Comes to Pullman


Washington State's Ol' Crimson flag and its college football legacy | College GameDayThe Ol' Crimson flag has flown proud at every College GameDay dating back to 2003. Tom Pounds recants the history of how the flag has made it across the United States and appeared in the background of ESPN's broadcast week after week. ✔ Subscribe to ESPN on YouTube: es.pn/SUBSCRIBEtoYOUTUBE ✔ Subscribe to ESPN FC on…2018-10-20T01:00:01Z

It is now an elaborate operation with the Ol’ Crimson booster club being formed to help organize and fundraise to ensure that the Washington State flag makes it to Gameday each week. The flag comes with specific instructions for the flag flyer as SB Nation explained.

The kit has both flags, poles for them, and instructions on how to run through the entire flag-waving operation. Ol’ Crimson gets free shipping from UPS, and McCoy “quarterbacks” the distribution of the flag each week.

The recipient is always a WSU alum, but the three-hour show length means 500 or 600 people have waved a WSU flag at GameDay at some time or another, McCoy estimates.

C.J. McCoy took over for Pounds as one of the key people that organize the flag logistics. Pounds admitted he could not stop the tradition now, even if he tried.

“Even though I was the first one to start it and keep it going, I’m still amazed that something I thought of 15 years ago, did 15 years ago, would have this kind of effect,” Pounds told Oregon Live. “It still amazes me.”

For those wondering if Ol’ Crimson will continue to fly even after the Gameday appearance, the answer is yes.

“It started to get GameDay to come to Pullman, but it’s become so much more than that,” McCoy told The Seattle Times. ”It’s a part of WSU culture, it’s a part of ‘GameDay’ and it’s a true tradition that started in a grass roots effort. There is no doubt that next week we will be there for show No. 218 in a row.”

ESPN’s Chris Fallica noted the Gameday team has been trying to find a way to come to Pullman for some time. The Gameday crew is expecting an epic show.

“Continually, they were there every week supporting and proudly waving that flag,” Fallica explained to The Seattle Times.” And I think we’re all excited to be there, and I think we’re more excited because it’s not just like a novelty, it’s a bad week, let’s just go to Washington State, let’s give them their due, go to the flag. They earned it. It’s legitimately a good game. There were four games with ranked opponents this week, and it’s one of them. It’s a toss-up-type game.”

READ NEXT: College Gameday Finally Visits Pullman for Washington State-Oregon

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