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Thoughts on the Ol' Crimson tradition and College Gameday

College Gameday should be in Pullman this season.

Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Coug fans. Hopefully you enjoyed another wild Saturday of college football that featured some crazy finishes. It also signaled the beginning of the end, possibly, in Eugene. If you're like the author, you missed all of the crazy endings because you took advantage of the WSU bye week to take your significant other out for dinner and drinks. Either way, it was the only weekend without the Cougs until December.

Despite the fact that the football team didn't play Saturday, Cougar fans everywhere were setting the internet aflame when it was reported that the WSU flag, known as Ol' Crimson, had somehow become marooned in Mississippi. As such, the flag almost surely would not make it to Tucson in time to maintain its streak of appearances on College Gameday. As you're probably aware, the Gameday streak is a big point of pride among the WSU fan base, and it would have been a giant bummer if the streak were to end.

I'll admit that when I first heard that the streak was suddenly in jeopardy, I did little more than shrug my shoulders. The Gameday streak was cool and all, but for crying out loud, I'd rather have my school known for being at least semi-competent at football than some streak of flag appearances on a TV show. To me, it felt like the streak was going on for the sake of the streak (if that makes any sense), and not for some larger purpose. This is largely because we are once again in the middle of another season in which our football team isn't good enough to merit a Gameday visit to Pullman.

When I woke up Saturday morning and looked at Twitter and the author discussion thread, my view began to make a 180 degree turn. Craig Powers burned the midnight oil (it was probably more like 10 p.m. but I'm old) and published a couple stories about the national attention this story was getting. I realized that there are scores of people outside the WSU fan base who genuinely care about the WSU flag and its place on College Gameday.

That got me to thinking about the time I got a chance to wave the flag on Gameday in Tallahassee, when the show was there on November 2, 2013. First off, if you've never done it, you should do so if you get the chance. Second, it's tiring, especially now that the show is three hours long. However, the best part about the experience is what happens when the show ends. Suddenly, it's like the flag wavers are celebrities. There were FSU fans, Miami fans, Ole Miss fans and others who were all lining up to get pictures with us. They all know about the streak and have a ton of respect for it.

So, Epiphany Number One: The Ol' Crimson streak is woven into the fabric of College Gameday, and it would really suck if the streak ends before Gameday goes to Pullman.

Now for the second issue, that of Gameday matriculating its way to the Palouse. My feelings have always been the same on this subject. Yeah, it would be great if Rece, Kirk and Lee did a show there, but I want it to be because the Cougs are good again, and not because the show's producers essentially threw us a bone. The funniest (saddest?) part about this is that we're in year four of the Leach era, and the closest we ever came was the year Paul Wulff was fired. A Gameday appearance would mean that WSU had emerged from the dark days and was finally a player on the national scene again.

When Gameday producer Lee Fitting shared his thoughts about making a show in Pullman a priority, my sentiments didn't change, at least initially. It needs to be earned on the field, not because the folks at ESPN feel bad for us. Once again, my feelings did a 180. You know what? The football team may not have earned it, but by god, WSU fans have. We've stuck by this team through good times and bad, largely the latter. Lee Fitting knows that.

We've earned it because we lived through 69-0. We've earned it because we lived through a season in which WSU didn't have a lead for one single second of regulation time. We've earned it because we lived through the the promise of bowl games followed by a 3-9 face plant, coupled with multiple investigations into player abuse allegations.

Despite that, and much more, Cougar fans everywhere have shown up before dawn on 167 consecutive fall Saturdays in order to make sure Ol' Crimson flies high above the scores of signs and flags you see on the show. We've earned it because college football fans throughout the country have a tremendous amount of respect for the flag streak and what it means. We've earned it because Cougar fans everywhere will continue to get up before dawn to wave that flag, even if College Gameday never comes to Pullman.  We've earned it.


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