Ol’ Crimson, as you probably well know, celebrates its 200th straight appearance on the set of ESPN’s College GameDay on Saturday morning. It’s an incredible feat, when you consider the week-to-week coordination involved in not only moving the flag, but finding someone in each location willing to care for and fly it. Among the few traditions the Washington State Cougars have, it’s certainly among its best, if not THE best.
For 14 years, through the ups and the downs, the dark days of the Wulff Era and the better days of ... well, pretty much just now, there it has been; the most beautiful logo in all of sports, flying on a flag for all college football fans to see.
The passion. The loyalty. The pride.
Where has Ol’ Crimson never been, though? Pullman. Because the show she flies at has, to this point, refused to come, even when they basically had no excuse not to.
But there’s always that hope! That glimmer of hope that if the stars align, and the Cougs are good, and their opponent is also good, and maybe GameDay is already out west, all they’d ha— ... OH FOR CRIPES SAKE, LOOGIT THIS THING:
“Hey, we haven’t ever been to Pullman ... but we’ll make you this hat as a sort of consolation prize — for the low, low price of $24.95. That sound good?”
Geez, I feel like it’s junior year tolo again.
If you ever wanted some sort of incontrovertible (I have word of the day toilet paper) proof that ESPN will never set foot into Pullman for GameDay, you’ve now got it. Ol’ Crimson has been to 200 dang shows in a row ... and we got a friggin’ hat.
Actually, we got FOUR hats! Oh, and did you happen to notice something else?
THE THING ISN’T EVEN THE RIGHT DAMN COLOR. IT’S CARDINAL. WHAT IN THE FRESH HELL WERE YOU THINKING, BRISTOL? Gee, it probably wouldn’t have taken TOO much effort to make some hats after calling Nike and being like “Hey, what’s the specific crimson you’re using now, we wanna get it right.” But, instead, you had these dusty ass things laying around in storage and figured you’d stitch this crap on them because they’re taking up all that room where you’re keeping Chris Berman’s toupees.
Oh by the way, it’s a hat which ESPN has still made sure to include their branding, nice and big, on the side.
Because that’s what Ol’ Crimson is at this point to ESPN: a goddang marketing gimmick. Something the Worldwide Leader can use week in, week out, for a nice little feel good part to their show, but never really do anything to reward the fans because hey, they’ll be there again next week!
I’ve never made it a secret that I don’t care too much about whether GameDay ever ends up in Pullman; as a guy whose sleep schedule keeps him in bed until 10, I’m usually awake in the second quarter of whatever awful Big Ten game is on so, thusly, I never watch. But I know what that show, and especially that flag, means to so many people.
The passion. The loyalty. The pride.
Those truly horrible days of football before Mike Leach were so bad, I wouldn’t even have suggested that Wes Anderson make some sort of weird, sorta but kinda not really funny movie with too little Bill Murray on screen about it — but the flag was there. I loved then, and still do now, seeing the updates every Saturday morning from the country’s biggest pregame show — with the eyes of millions on that flag and logo. The dedication it has taken for nearly 15 years is simply unparalleled. It’s something every single person involved, in any capacity, should be immensely proud of.
All that for a hat. Thanks for the pandering, ESPN. Why don’t you go ahead and stuff it in that time slot where Stump the Schwab should still exist?
A previous version of this story stated that ESPN will be keeping the proceeds from the hat. According to Will Walker of the Ol’ Crimson booster club, the proceeds go to WSU and Ol’ Crimson. That totally makes it better, and we regret the error.