This doesn’t have anything to do with Philly sports, but it’s a cool story.
If you’ve watched College Gameday even once since 2003, you’ve noticed that there’s one specific flag that flies behind the set on every single Saturday morning. That’s “Ol’ Crimson,” the colors of Washington State University. You’ve seen it in Norman and Austin and State College and even on Independence Mall a few years ago when Temple hosted Notre Dame on Halloween night.
The idea started on a Wazzu message board more than 15 years ago as a way to convince ESPN to visit Pullman, located about 90 minutes south of Spokane on the Idaho border. The Cougars were coming off a pair of 10 win seasons under Mike Price, which resulted in a Rose Bowl appearance and top ten AP and coaches poll ranking.
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.
A booster club called Ol’ Crimson manages the flag-flying schedule. Booster CJ McCoy helps coordinate the group and mails a “flag kit” to each week’s recipient, which is always a Washington State alum. The kit comes with two flags, poles and instructions on how to properly handle flag-flying duties during broadcasts. UPS even gives Ol’ Crimson free shipping.
Since the pregame show lasts three hours, sometimes multiple people help fly the Wazzu flag during the broadcast. McCoy told SB Nation that he estimates 500 to 600 people have waved Ol’ Crimson on the set over the past 15 years.
It’s a really cool tradition. The flag can be easily seen in literally every College Gameday broadcast, of which there have been about 14-15 per year dating back to 2003, so Ol’ Crimson has appeared more than 200 times, even in smaller towns like Fargo and Harrisonburg.
Here it is flying in Philly back in 2015:
And here’s the flag at Old Main on the Penn State campus:
(Penn hosted Gameday in 2002 but the tradition hadn’t started until 2003, so you won’t see the flag in those clips)
Anyway, I think it’s a cool story. Should be really fun to see the flag back home after 5,488 days, according to college football reddit.
And Mike Leach is a great quote, so I’m looking forward to seeing him on the set.
Also: Temple hosts 6-0, #20 Cincinnati at the Linc tomorrow. The Owls have won 4 of 5 and are playing good football. Flip it on at noon if you’ve got nothing better to do.