A GRIP ON SPORTS
If you watch ESPN's College GameDay, the network's weekly football pregame show, you are probably well aware of a tradition going on in the background. The waving of the Cougar flag. But you may not know of a significant anniversary coming up. Read on.
• ESPN's College GameDay has been traveling to on-campus sites for its show since November of 1993, when No. 2 Notre Dame hosted No. 1 Florida State. If my math is right, that means next month is the show's 20th anniversary. I'm guessing the World Wide Leader will make a big deal out of it. But there is another anniversary before then. This month is 10th anniversary of the Cougar flag waving on the show. Yep, the flag first flew on GameDay Oct. 4, 2003, when WSU alum Tom Pounds stood in Austin and waved the thing in the GameDay background before Texas hosted Kansas State. The Cal Ripken-like consecutive-show streak reportedly started two weeks later, when Wisconsin hosted Purdue and Pounds sent the flag to a Cougar fan in Badger country. So, for the past 10 years, a WSU flag or two has waved in the background of GameDay, a marker even the guys on the stage acknowledge. One thing, though. The flag has never waved on the show from Pullman. Nope, the College GameDay crew has appeared just about everywhere, from Miami to Eugene, from Los Angeles to Boston. Heck, this year the show actually originated from Fargo, North Dakota. It has been held at bowl games, at Division III campuses, even in Bowling Green, Ohio. But never Pullman. And still, Cougar fans make sure their flag is in the background each and every Saturday. Which makes this Saturday pretty tough to take. You could have made a case for Pullman being the perfect spot for this week's show. Oregon State is in town for a 7:30 game. It will be broadcast on an ESPN channel, the exact one to be announced today. It's basically the 10-year anniversary of the tradition. All the folks who have flown the flag, I'm sure, would drop whatever it is they are doing and fly in to wave it on the home field. Announcing icon Keith Jackson, a WSU alum, would probably even make the trip to be the guest picker and yell, "whoa Nelly" one more time. And the Cougars are coming off a big win, something that hasn't happened all that often recently. It seems like a perfect scenario. But it's not happening. And to make it even worse, the GameDay folks have the audacity to bring their show to Seattle. Yep, it's going to be held, for the first time ever, at the University of Washington. Talk about rubbing the Cougars' nose in it. Not only do you ignore 10 years of hard work, you hold the show at the archrival's place? How much worse could it get? There is already a thread on Dawgman, a UW fan website, entitled "Keep Coug Flag off UW GameDay Event!" (The exclamation point is theirs.) And you want to know what's worse? Washington's game Saturday with Oregon isn't even going to be broadcast by ESPN. It's on FoxSports1. Really? You are promoting a game on another network? That's good business. It just doesn't make sense. ... One last thing. As you know, I'm a vindictive sort. It's all part of my Italian heritage. If I were in Bill Moos' shoes, I might just ask the folks behind the flag waving to suspend their activity for a while. Tell ESPN it's not coming back until the GameDay folks come to Pullman. It's been long enough. It's one thing to ignore Washington State, but it's quite another to set up shop 300 miles away on what is basically the tradition's 10-year anniversary. It's time for the show to come to the Palouse. And, after Saturday, it will be past time.
• WSU: OK, enough of that. The Cougars practiced last night and worked to shore up their pass defense. That's the thrust of Jacob Thorpe's story in today's S-R and his blog post following practice last night. He also has a morning post with links. ... The statistics from Saturday's game were revised and Cal's Jared Goff actually set a school record for passing yards, 504. One pass was misidentified as a run during the game.
• Seahawks: What do you think? Was it a safety or a touchdown? I'm talking about, of course, the blocked punt early in the loss to Indianapolis yesterday, finally ruled a safety after a long replay delay. The ruling was huge, as a 17-0 lead is certainly more imposing than a 12-0 one. But we're not here to blame the officiating for the Seahawks first loss of the season yesterday, 34-28 in Indianapolis, despite an odd offensive pass interference penalty on Golden Tate and another ticky-tack one on Richard Sherman that allowed the Colts' go-ahead drive to continue. Nope, the Hawks can blame themselves for their poor third-down conversion rate and a leaky pass defense that is getting leakier by the week. ... Sherman, Pete Carroll and Russell Wilson all had their takes on what went wrong. ... Bruce Irvin was happy to be back. ... A big part of the loss was, once again, beat-up offensive line not able to give Wilson time to make plays. ... Jermaine Kearse continues to stand out.
• Sounders: There is a lot on the line Wednesday night when Vancouver visits CenturyLink. The Whitecaps 2-2 draw with Portland last night eliminated the Timbers from the Cascadia Cup, something Seattle can win Wednesday with either a win or a draw. And Seattle can clinch a playoff berth. But the Sounders will have to earn it without Brad Evans and Eddie Johnson, called to National Team duty yesterday. With a World Cup berth already assured, it seems silly to take MLS players who are fighting for championships, but that's what's been done. Johnson isn't all that happy about it. ... An injured Clint Dempsey was bypassed for national duty.
• It's a fine Monday morning and I'll be out and about most of the day. This time of the year, if the sun is shining, you might as well enjoy it. Until later ...