Like many great traditions, the waving of the WSU Flag started out innocently enough. Tom Pounds, the owner of the flag, decided to make the trip to Austin, Texas to wave the flag prior to the Kansas State-Texas game. The flag was not unnoticed by WSU alumni, who at the time were trying to get GameDay to do a broadcast from Pullman. The flag went to Madison, Wisconsin two weeks later with the idea that the program would come to the WSU campus the following week.
It made perfect sense: at the time, WSU was 5-1 and ranked sixth in the nation, having won convincingly at both Colorado and Oregon (after the Ducks were on the cover of Sports Illustrated, no less) the previous month. The Cougars’ opponent that week, Oregon State, was also 5-1 and checked in at 22nd in the country. The only other two games between ranked teams that weekend (Purdue-Michigan and Auburn-LSU) featured teams and locations that had already been featured on GameDay earlier that year, and the program had recently been accused of bias due to a lack of broadcasts from the West Coast.
Additionally, it was Dad’s Weekend in Pullman, which is often referred to as the biggest weekend of the school year at Washington State. Numerous parents were in town and had swelled the population to twice its normal size, ensuring that the crowd for Saturday’s football game would be a raucous sellout. Really, the time could not have been more perfect for ESPN to come to Pullman.
Instead, ESPN decided to go to Bowling Green, Ohio for their first-ever broadcast from a MAC school.
Since that day, ESPN has shown little indication that they would ever broadcast from Pullman (though the downturn of the football team’s fortunes has not helped). In response, WSU’s fanbase has decided to bring Pullman to them, placing a flag in the background of the past 107 broadcasts through Saturday’s game.