© 2010 Idaho-Press Tribune
On Saturday morning, Tom Pounds will turn on his TV in his home in Albuquerque, N.M., and watch ESPN’s College GameDay.
And the 1981 Washington State graduate will feel a sense of pride in seeing the premier college football pregame show being broadcast from Boise.
Saturday will be the 95th consecutive GameDay appearance for the often out-of-place Washington State Cougars’ flag flying in a crowd of fans wearing something other than crimson and gray.
Pounds is directly responsible for starting the tradition, and his sister, Mary Beth Prince, will continue the custom prior to Boise State’s game against Oregon State.
“He’s been talking about when the day came that I would be able to get the flags,” said Prince, a Northwest Nazarene graduate and Nampa resident.
Saturday is that day, as GameDay makes its first trip to Boise. The show has never been to Pullman, Wash., but getting the ESPN crew to the Palouse was never Pounds’ intention when he started the tradition in 2003.
Pounds admits flying the Cougar flag at GameDay wasn’t even his idea. Pounds was visiting relatives in Austin in 2003 when he was contacted by a fellow Washington State alumnus, who was attending graduate courses at the University of Texas and he wanted to get the Cougars on TV.
“I decided to join him, but he couldn’t make it, so I was left in the crowd with my flag all by myself,” Pounds said. “It was something fun to do to show spirit. ... I had no idea it would be going on seven years later.”
Ever since, Pounds has packaged up four flags — one 5-foot by 7-foot crimson flag, one 4-foot by 6-foot white flag and two smaller flags — along with two 15-foot collapsible aluminum poles and shipped them off to GameDay’s destination each week throughout the football season.
People hear about the flag waving through word of mouth or the Washington State sports fan website, cougfan.com.
“I’m still amazed,” Pounds said. “I still get a kick about tuning in to ESPN each (Saturday) morning. It still really does send chills up my spine.”