The declaration will allow the city's buses to transport Washington State fans and College GameDay attendees through campus on Saturday.
PULLMAN – Tens of thousands of people are expected to be in Pullman Saturday for ESPN College GameDay’s first visit to Washington State, and the subsequent Pac-12 North battle between the 12th-ranked Oregon Ducks and 25th-ranked WSU Cougars.
To deal with the congestion, Pullman City Council has approved an “emergency declaration” that will allow Pullman Transit buses to transport Washington State fans and College GameDay attendees through campus on Saturday.
According to Pullman Radio News, the emergency declaration was brought forth to the Pullman City Council, and approved, Tuesday evening. The news outlet is reporting that WSU requested additional buses from the city after the school was unable to locate private bus services.
ESPN College GameDay producer Chris “The Bear” Fallica has told Pullman Radio News this is the first time the show has caused an emergency declaration. GameDay has been broadcasting on college campuses since 1993.
Celebrity picker could be a Saturday surprise
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Drew Bledsoe? Ryan Leaf? Klay Thompson? Dolph Lundgren?
It could be one of two former Cougar quarterbacks, a three-time NBA champion with the Golden State Warriors, the actor known for his role in Rocky IV or another notable WSU alum sitting alongside Kirk Herbstreit and Lee Corso on the College GameDay set Saturday morning.
And the ESPN program could keep its celebrity guest-picker under wraps until the show launches at 6 a.m. across the street from Martin Stadium, on the corner of Stadium Way and Ferdinand’s Lane.
According to ESPN communications manager Derek Volner, who works directly with GameDay, “it varies from week to week” whether the show will unveil its guest picker days ahead of time, or surprise fans during the live broadcast.
Regarding Saturday’s visit to Pullman, Volner said crew members still “haven’t decided how to handle it.”
WSU fans had been lobbying for an appearance from Steve Gleason, the former Cougar and New Orleans Saints linebacker who was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis in 2011 and has since pioneered an effort to help others who have the disease.
But Gleason wrote on Twitter earlier this week he’d decline an invitation to be the guest picker. The following day, the Spokane native and Gonzaga Prep graduate announced his wife Michel Rae Varisco had given birth to the couple’s second child, a daughter, Gray Varisco Gleason.
From his Twitter account, Gleason casted his vote for Leaf.
The ex-WSU quarterback and former first-round NFL draft pick is in recovery from his drug addicition and spends his days speaking at different venues throughout the country about his steps to recovery and struggles with mental health. Leaf is also the host of a Pac-12 radio show and has been a color commentator for the Pac-12 Networks on two WSU football television broadcasts.
“He’s returned from hell, overcoming life’s adversity, by helping others enduring his previous situation @RyanDLeaf is the right choice,” Gleason wrote.
Presidential residence offers up rooms
Few beds, couches and spare futons will go unused this week, as thousands of WSU fans from around the country flock to Pullman for Saturday’s festivities.
And there won’t be any empty bedrooms inside the home of school president Kirk Schulz, either.
Schulz and wife Noel have offered up space inside the presidential mansion to guests this weekend in order to free up hotel rooms for members of the ESPN College GameDay crew, which announced Saturday evening it would be coming to Pullman for the first time in school history.
Noel Schulz told The Spokesman-Review on Wednesday six people had accepted offers to stay in the mansion’s four spare bedrooms, including two WSU Board of Regent members and their spouses, one other member and a chancellor from another campus.
A warm welcome
An orange ESPN College GameDay bus and a line of trucks carrying production gear could hardly go 20 miles on Highway 195 without seeing a crimson flag as they traveled through Spokane and into the Palouse on Wednesday afternoon.
More than a dozen flag-bearing fans, including a few state patrol officers, showed up at the Cheney-Spokane overpass to get a first glimpse of the GameDay convoy as it passed through shortly after 11 a.m.
A larger contingent of fans, and an electronic message board that read “Welcome ESPN,” greeted the crew in Colfax.
Finally, after reportedly being stuck behind a combine harvester, the GameDay RV made its grand entrance into Pullman. A few-hundred fans and students poured into the heart of the WSU campus and crowded the bus as it rolled through the portion of Stadium Way that will serve as the home base for Saturday’s live show.
In a Twitter message, athletic director Pat Chun urged “all students to show up to GameDay.” Chun believes WSU, the 70th school to host the popular road show, could set an attendance record Saturday morning.