If you watch GameDay once this season, make it this Saturday

On Oct. 4, 2003, College GameDay was in Austin, Texas, to preview Texas’s game with Kansas State. For some reason, Washington State’s flag Ol’ Crimson was among the onlookers in the audience.

A fan on the Wazzu message board CougFan.com brought up the idea of flying Ol’ Crimson that day in Austin as a means of convincing ESPN to bring the show to Pullman that year. The Cougars were 4-1 and ranked No. 14 in the AP poll at the time.

Wazzu alum Tom Pounds drove 700 miles from his home in Albuquerque to get the flag on the air in Austin.

Ol’ Crimson did not make the following week’s trip to Tallahassee for Miami at Florida State, but a Minnesota Wazzu alum saw the flag on TV in Austin, contacted Pounds and requested Ol’ Crimson be shipped to him to it could fly the following week in Madison for the Wisconsin-Purdue game.

And it’s been on GameDay every week since.

GameDay did not travel to the Palouse that year, despite Mike Price’s Cougars enjoying a 10-3 season with a No. 9 final ranking. (Coincidentally, Washington State would go on to beat Texas in that season’s Holiday Bowl.)

The campaign didn’t work, but Washington State alums kept at it. And kept at it. And kept at it some more. Every single week for the past 15 years, from West Point to South Beach and the Rose Bowl to Seattle, Ol’ Crimson has been on site each and every week.

At some point down the road, the Ol’ Crimson has become part of the show’s lore and part of the school’s identity.

The road trip ends Saturday, when GameDay comes to Pullman for the first time as the 25th-ranked Cougars host No. 12 Oregon.

And to say the GameDay crew has received the rock star treatment would be an understatement. I can’t imagine Taylor Swift’s bus being swarmed like this upon arrival three days before the show.

In the days since, Rece Davis, Desmond Howard and even show researcher Chris “Bear” Fallica have been treated like celebrities.

I don’t know if “take a picture at the replica GameDay desk” is a weekly thing, but it’s hard to imagine that desk seeing more action than it will this week.

For the first time in the show’s history, the host city has had to make an emergency declaration to deal with the influx of traffic coming into Pullman.

There are no hard and fast numbers for this sort of thing, but the GameDay record is believed to beattendance the 18,000 fans that showed up in Columbia, Mo., on Oct. 23, 2010 to see the show ahead of Mizzou’s game with Oklahoma. (The Tigers would go on to win the game in an upset.)

That record may fall on Saturday.

GameDay will go on the air at 9 a.m. ET, 6 a.m. local. As for the game itself, that kicks off at 7:30 p.m. ET — on FOX.

The show will then leave the Palouse on Sunday for another location, most likely Jacksonville for No. 11 Florida vs. No. 8 Georgia. And Ol’ Crimson will be there, too.

Fifteen years later, the tradition of getting Ol’ Crimson on GameDay has out-grown its original purpose.

“It’s taken on a life of its own,” Cameron McCoy, a 1998 Wazzu graduate and Coordinator of the Ol’ Crimson Booster Club, told NCAA.com. “It’s part of our tradition and part of our university.”