By now, I'm sure you're painfully aware that ESPN's College GameDay has never made an appearance in Pullman. The best pregame show in the history of pregame shows has trekked all around the country, but so far, Pullman has not been one of the destinations. That could change this year ... maybe.
The "will this be the year GameDay finally comes to Pullman?" question has been a yearly offseason topic for WSU fans for more than a decade. For many years, the discussion was pointless because WSU was no where close to being good enough to justify an appearance. With the Cougars starting to turn things around on the field, the question is more legitimate now than it has been in a very long time. GameDay head producer Lee Fitting added a little fuel to the fire on Wednesday, tweeting that GameDay would make at least one new stop this season.
This year, @CollegeGameDay will broadcast from a location that we've never been to before. Always fun.— Lee Fitting (@leefitting) May 28, 2014
The immediate thought from WSU fans was: PULLMAN!
My guess is Fitting isn't referring to a specific GameDay appearance, but the simple fact that the producers have decided to venture to at least one new location at some point this season. Regardless, let's take a look at WSU's home schedule and try to determine whether College GameDay is coming to Pullman this season.
Week 1: WSU vs. Rutgers - Thursday, August 28 (Seattle)
Win/loss records often come into play when picking a GameDay location. WSU infamously missed out on a chance to host a few years ago when the Cougars lost to UCLA. You know when records aren't a factor? Week 1. WSU's season opener will likely be on ESPN this year, the only problem? Well there are two. One the game is on a Thursday, so a Saturday College GameDay would be a bit strange. Two, the game is in Seattle, so if GameDay is coming to Pullman for Week 1, it's doing so without a game that day and in a location that didn't even host a game that week. Cross that off the list
Chances College GameDay comes to Pullman: 0.00 percent
Week 3: WSU vs. Portland State - Saturday, September 13
WSU will play it's first Pullman home game of the season in Week 3, hosting Portland State. While WSU's eventual GameDay appearance will be a lot about Pullman and the Cougars, the opponent does play a role too. It's safe to say a WSU vs. Portland State matchup isn't going to excite masses of non-Cougar fans. If Jerry Glanville were still the PSU head coach it might have a 1 percent chance of happening since you could just stick Mike Leach and Glanville in a room together and probably come up with the script for season two of True Detectives.
Chances College GameDay comes to Pullman: 0.00 percent
Week 4: WSU vs. Oregon - Saturday, September 20
Hey, look at that, a marquee opponent coming to Pullman. The Ducks have national recognition and are likely to once again be highly-ranked next season. If, and it's a legitimate if, WSU can beat Rutgers, Nevada and PSU to start the season, the Cougars would be 3-0 heading into the game. That might even be good enough to receive a vote or two in a poll and would give ESPN the "Mike Leach has it turned around" story. The Cougars' chances get a nice boost thanks to the rest of the schedule. Here are some other marquee games in Week 4.
- Florida at Alabama
- Clemson at Florida State
- South Carolina at Vanderbilt
- Miami at Nebraska
A few solid matchups, but nothing that screams "GAME OF THE CENTURY" and would be a guarantee for GameDay. If WSU takes care of business during the first three weeks of the season, Week 4 could be their best chance to host since ... well ever.
Chances College GameDay comes to Pullman: With 3-0 start, 40 percent. Without 3-0 start, 15 percent.
Week 6: WSU vs. Cal - Saturday, October 4
Cal figures to be pretty terrible at football things this year, so they aren't exactly adding much to the matchup. WSU might be 4-1 heading into this matchup, but they could also be 1-4. The best selling point for this game is that WSU and Cal could easily set a world record for most passes attempted during a football game. The ball might be in the air 130 times.
Decent chance LSU at Auburn gets the nod, maybe Baylor at Texas? Stanford at Notre Dame and Nebraska at Michigan State also possibilities. If WSU upsets Oregon and starts 5-0 and the Bears shock everyone and start 4-1 or 5-0, it could happen.
Chances College GameDay comes to Pullman: 0.05 percent
Week 9: WSU vs. Arizona - Saturday, October 25
The Cougars and Wildcats played an entertaining game last season, so that's a plus. WSU, however, will be coming off a road game at Stanford. The Cardinal machine tends to slowly wear down WSU before eventually chewing the Cougars up. A potentially ugly loss the week before won't help the Cougars' chances. That said, both teams could have semi-decent to good records heading in.
GameDay is probably headed to Penn State for Penn State vs. Ohio State, but WSU could at least play it's way into consideration here.
Chances College GameDay comes to Pullman: 10 percent.
Week 10: WSU vs. USC - Saturday, November 8
Marquee opponent (at least with national name recognition)? Check. Interesting recent history? Check. Two teams rising late in the season with plenty to play for and playoff implications? Uhh ... With the addition of the college football playoff, GameDay is likely to follow the implications late in the season. People love implications. The Cougars are going to have to beat out their Pac-12 North rivals with Stanford traveling to Oregon in Week 10. If 2014 is anything like the previous few years, the Cardinals and Ducks could be playing for the Pac-12 North in Eugene with major playoff implications. GameDay producers likely already reserved hotel rooms in Eugene.
If USC returns to being a national title contender and the Cougars are good enough to put the Trojans on "upset alert" it could happen. Just not likely.
Chances College GameDay comes to Pullman: 5 percent
Week 13: WSU vs. Washington - Saturday, November 29
There is certainly plenty to sell with the Apple Cup rivalry and the Cougars get a boost by not playing Washington during the traditional college football hate week.
The Cougars and Huskies will play a week earlier than most of the other rivalry games. So there won't be Michigan at Ohio State or Auburn at Alabama to contend with. There will, however, be USC at UCLA -- possibly for the Pac-12 South -- and Oklahoma State at Baylor, among a few interesting games.
EDIT: Scratch that, the Cougars and Huskies will play during hate week, so yeah, that isn't happening.
Would GameDay come to Pullman in Week 13 with no major playoff implications on the line? Would the Apple Cup be a big enough selling point if say WSU is 6-5 or 5-6 heading into the game? My guess is there would have to be more on the line than just the Apple Cup to garner an appearance. Or a lot o things would have to break right, leaving a very tame Week 13 slate.
Chances College GameDay comes to Pullman: 2.5 percent.
WSU has improved considerably from the depths of 2008 and 2009, but not to the point where it is going to play its way into GameDay. The Cougars will need to win, get some help from a name opponent and have things break right in the college football world. It could happen, with three, maybe four viable matchups this season. The Oregon game in Week 4 requires the fewest number of variables to hit right, making it the best chance for GameDay to come to Pullman this season. Start 3-0 and things would get very interesting.