Gameday is Going to Pullman


A piece of Pullman, Washington, has been on the scene for ESPN’s Saturday morning flagship (pun intended) program College Gameday. The show itself, however, has never made its way to the Palouse.

That changes in Week 8 of the 2018 season.

A Washington State flag is as ubiquitous on an edition of College Gameday as Lee Corso’s mascot-head pick. Last year, the program dedicated both an advertisement… 

…and a segment honoring the 200th consecutive appearance of the crimson flag.

And yet, as indelible as that representation of Washington State football has been for most of the show’s 25 years traveling around the country, Gameday never actually making it to Pullman seemed to become its own running gag.

Circumstances always seemed to intervene — like in 2015, when a matchup with Stanford on Halloween night to determine first-place in the Pac-12 North coincided with an unlikely, Top 20 showdown between Notre Dame and Temple. 

Gameday going to Philadelphia instead of Pullman really wasn’t a disappointment in the way yet another visit to Tuscaloosa or Ann Arbor or any number of traditional power programs would have been. Temple had a season for the ages, and never hosted the program ever in its own right. 

What’s more, the ABC broadcast that Halloween night emanated from Philadelphia. Temple made the most sense schematically. 

The schematics of getting to Pullman certainly make for a difficult travel destination. Teams visiting for road games typically fly into Spokane and bus the two hours to the Palouse. Washington State’s a remote outpost on the college football map — and that’s exactly why it’s such an excellent destination for College Gameday. 

Keeping a program fresh after nearly 30 years with a similar format requires effort, and in this case, venturing off the beaten path is the most intriguing option. Many of the show’s most memorable episodes in recent years include the first-ever visit to The Grove at Ole Miss, rare trips into FCS Country for broadcasts at North Dakota State and James Madison, and even the unorthodox Times Square installment a season ago. 

I love the idea of Gameday dedicating an entire season to first-time and unusual destinations. Perhaps an electric scene at Pullman will provide the impetus for a not-too-distant-future visit to Ames and Iowa State. An edition airing from a marquee matchup in HBCU football could showcase performances from the competing teams’ bands. The possibilities are as endless as the rich history of college football itself. 

And as long as I’m suggesting segments for Gameday, the Oct. 27 edition *must* include a mini-documentary chronicling Kirk Herbstreit’s voyage from Pullman to the ABC prime-time broadcast in West Lafayette.