PULLMAN – A Cougar logo flag has flown for seven years over football games televised by ESPN across the country, but it came home Saturday in honor of the man who started the movement.
“I have chills just thinking about it,” said alumnus and originator Tom Pounds (’81 Engr.), after he led the WSU football team out of the tunnel – waving his famous flag, of course – before its thrilling season-opener victory against Montana State. Pounds was welcomed by more than 25,000 screaming Cougar fans.
Nearly seven years ago, Pounds pieced together the now familiar crimson flag with white cougar logo. From his hometown in Albuquerque, N.M., he jumped in his car for the two-day drive to a football game at the University of Texas campus in Austin. He waved the WSU banner behind the on-camera ESPN College GameDay staff – and became a trendsetter.
I started off doing it for school spirit, and for fun, but it’s gotten crazy,” said Pounds on Saturday. “Why? It’s a Coug thing!”
WSU fans nationwide have joined the weekly tradition. Thanks to overnight delivery, Pounds ships the flag all over the country, where Cougs he has never met take up the cause. Volunteers drive hundreds of miles at their own expense to wave the flag in the background of every GameDay broadcast.
A number of them joined him Saturday as part of the Pullman celebration.
The flag has even become part of WSU’s recruiting efforts as a symbol of how deep Cougar Pride can run.
Pounds often hears the question, “How long will he keep doing it?”
“I’ve told people that I would do it until I hit 100 in a row,” he said. “But even I couldn’t stop it at this point…”