The WSU Cougars flag stalled in Mississippi en route to Arizona for ESPN's College GameDay
Update 2:30 p.m.: According to Keri Potts, ESPN’s Senior Director of Public Relations, the Ol’ Crimson flag that was hanging in the ESPN cafe in Bristol has been taken down and is en route to Tucson, Ariz. as a UPS Express Critical Shipment package. Estimated time of arrival: 11:30 p.m. Friday night.
Original story from 11:30 a.m., updated at 2:30 p.m.
Seeing the Washington State flag flying high every Saturday on ESPN’s College GameDay has always been a point of pride for Cougars fans, even during the dark times when their team isn’t winning and it’s hard to find something to cheer about.
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The WSU flag has been waved on College GameDay 166 consecutive times as of last Saturday’s appearance in Tuscaloosa, Ala. The streak dates back to the 2003 season, and comes thanks to the effort of Ol’ Crimson, a booster group that mobilizes alums across the country to help wave the flag anywhere College GameDay takes place.
But on Friday morning, Cougar fans got word that the 166-game streak was in jeopardy. ESPN CollegeGameDay tweeted that the flag was lost in transit on the way to Tucson, Ariz.
Ol’ Crimson club coordinator C.J. McCoy said the flag had stalled in transit from Atlanta, Ga. on its way to Arizona. As of Friday at noon, the flag was in Mississippi.
McCoy said this has happened a couple of times in the past but that the booster club was previously able to ship out some back up flags. Unfortunately, they’re running low on backup flags at the moment.
“We had one retired after the 100th show, and one retired after the 150th show. But the folks who have those are either out of the country or retired.”
There was, however, a third option. In the spring, Ol’ Crimson shipped a flag to ESPN’s campus in Bristol, Conn. where it is currently displayed in the ESPN café.
“They remodeled their ESPN café and picked one school’s flag to hang to celebrate their tradition, and they picked us,” McCoy said. “We gave them the flag dedicated to Randall Johnson, the gentleman who created the Cougar head symbol. They’ve had it hanging there since June or July.”
At about 1 p.m. Friday afternoon, ESPN came through with the save. Keri Potts, ESPN’s Senior Director of Public Relations, announced via Twitter that the flag in the ESPN cafe had been taken down and was on its way to Tucson, where College GameDay will begin at 6 a.m. Saturday morning.
Potts said the ESPN replica of Ol’ Crimson was shipped out Friday afternoon as a UPS express critical shipment package, and it should arrive in Tucson by 11:30 p.m. Friday night.
McCoy would not disclose which parcel delivery service the group used to ship the original flag that stalled in Mississippi this week, but he stressed that the group is not blaming any delivery service for the problem at hand.
“We’ve seen a lot of blame being thrown around to FedEx or UPS. It’s not their fault,” McCoy said. “These things happen.”
McCoy said about 30 to 40 Cougars fans and alums are planning to be at College GameDay, and several will likely be flying flags of their own.
But that doesn’t quite count, right?
“Technically I guess we could say there’s a Coug flag on GameDay, but it’s not the same thing,” McCoy said. “The actual Ol’ Crimson flag that gets shipped around by us makes it official.”
Still, there are no sure bets at this point. Will the ESPN Ol’ Crimson flag make it to Tucson in time? Or will the original flag that was stuck in Mississippi beat it there?
“We are worried about any of our official flags getting there on time at this point,” McCoy wrote in a text message. “(It’s) late in the day and the show starts at 6 a.m. That’s the big challenge we have. We know the flag that was in Mississippi is on the way too, but (we’re) unsure if it’ll arrive on time or not.”
Here’s how the drama unfolded on Twitter
Coug fans everywhere starting freaked out about the missing flag.
ESPN comes to the rescue!