PULLMAN – ESPN, the self- described “Worldwide Leader in Sports,” made its first trip to Martin Stadium since 1990 to televise Washington State’s game against Arizona State. Rece Davis, Jesse Palmer and Samantha Ponder comprised the broadcast team.
“What’s great about it is that it’s a testament to our program and where we’re going that an ESPN national broadcast wants to be on our campus on a Thursday,” senior associate director of athletics John Johnson said. “We’re very excited about it and our staff and ESPN worked very hard to make sure it’s a terrific show.”
The Cougars’ game against Stanford earlier this season was also an ESPN broadcast, but the game was played in Seattle. When WSU hosted Oregon State the game was televised on ESPNU.
Making its first ever appearance in Pullman was ESPN’s Skycam, a computer-controlled, cable-suspended camera that travels over the field at speeds up to 29 miles per hour. The camera package itself weighs less than 30 pounds.
The national media was treated to an exuberant – if small – Halloween crowd. While most of the crowd was gone by the second half due to the nature of the loss, blocks of students dressed up as bananas, nuns, and even mimes. The seniors of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity – about 25 students – dressed as classic French mimes. The fraternity brothers were so committed to their costumes they were even willing to sacrifice a part of the Cougar chorus.
“We thought it’d be funny to paint ourselves, get some excitement going,” Brady Parsons said. “It’s a new atmosphere and we’re finally winning some games. We just thought we’d be quiet and not clap, silently cheer. It’ll be funny. We’re going to be clapping without making noise.”
The students weren’t the only ones in the Halloween spirit. Entire families showed up costumed to cheer on the Cougars.
“It is a special night and I believe it will be the first of many,” Johnson said.
Another night game
The Cougars played yet another night game, and what was once a novelty is now becoming the norm as this was WSU’s seventh game to kick off at 6 p.m. or later.
“It’s one of the byproducts of now making sure that every single one of our games is on national TV,” Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said before the game. “We’ve got to get the games in different windows to make sure they’re not overlapping. The exposure that we’re getting in enormous but as a result, we’re having to have more flexibility about when we play games – including more night games which our broadcast partners like.”
Scott added that while weeknight games can be a hardship it was a very important part of the agreement to ESPN and FOX Sports, who televise the games. He also said that each school should expect to play around two weeknight games every three years.
“I realize that it comes with a strain on campus and affects parking, classes and people’s schedules, but that’s the tradeoff,” Scott said. “So we’ve come up with a policy to make the number of weeknight games spread as evenly across the conference as possible.”