Interview With A Legendary Fan – Tom Pounds

November 13, 2009

Chances are Tom Pounds will never be a household name, although in my eyes he should be.  As all you faithful readers know, I like to recognize fans for going above and beyond and being That Fan.  Tom Pounds is about as good of an example that I have come across, and that is why he is That Fan of the Month for November 2009.

TomPounds

So who is Tom Pounds you ask?  Let me walk you through how I found him…when I started this blog about a month ago, my goal was to write about a side of sports that you can’t get elsewhere, the sports fan.  You can go to a million sites to talk sports, but where can you visit a site that focuses solely on fans?  One of the best scenes of amazing fans is on Saturday morning College Gameday broadcasts.  I’ve always watched College Gameday, but only after starting this blog did I start watching it in extreme detail, including all of the scenery in the background (signs, flags, hand gestures, etc.). 

As I started covering the show for That Fan, I noticed I was seeing two Washington State flags at every broadcast.  It didn’t matter what school the show was at, those flags were there.  I was completely fascinated by this, because let’s be honest, Washington State hasn’t really had a great program lately.  I mentioned the flags on a few of my posts and thankfully a reader pointed out that there was a fan out there who had been organizing this to happen.  I immediately did my research, found out the tradition was started by Tom Pounds, and reached out to him for an interview which he agreed to.  This weekend will mark the 87th consecutive broadcast that the Washington State flags have been flying on Gameday, an amazing accomplishment.  I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I enjoyed doing it.  My goal is to get this amazing story out for all fans to read!

That Fan:  How did you become a Washington State fan and how long have you been cheering on the Cougars?
Tom Pounds:  I am a WSU alum from the class of 1981.  I have been a fan since I was a kid.

That Fan:  What was the first time you had the WSU flags present at a Gameday and why did you decide to start the tradition?
Tom Pounds:  The first time I did the College Gameday show was Oct 4, 2003.  I knew the show was going to be in Austin that Saturday and I was going to be there visiting relatives.  2 weeks later a Coug fan in Minneapolis asked me to ship him the flag and he drove 300+ miles to the show in Madison, WI.  A week later a guy in Olympia, WA volunteered his daughter to do the show in Bowling Green.  After that, I just kept finding people to ship the flag to, week after week.  From Madison, on, it has been 87 shows in-a-row (as of 11/14/09).  Why?  There is a phrase known to WSU fans and alums alike, “It’s a Coug thing”.  We WSU fans and alums have been known for some crazy things on campus.

That Fan:  Has anyone from College Gameday ever contacted you about the streak and what you do?
Tom Pounds:  Several Northwest newspapers picked up on the story in 2003 and 2004 — I had several interviews. USA Today did a story on the flag last year.  ESPN also interviewed me on camera last year:

That Fan:  I’m sure you’ve seen the WSU flag commercial for Gameday (shown below), did they contact you before they did the commercial? What did you think when you first saw it?

Tom Pounds:  Yes I’ve seen it.  Several Coug fans got to see an advance copy of the promo a week before it supposedly aired.  A friend of my brother says he has seen it on-the-air, but I haven’t seen it except on Youtube and in the advance-viewing.  I didn’t have anything to do with ESPN making the promo, but I absolutely love it!

That Fan:  College Gameday’s Twitter account said a new Washington State flag commercial would be unveiled this week at College Gameday.  Do you know anything about it that you can share?
Tom Pounds:  I don’t know anything about a new commercial, nor have I seen any advance viewings of anything new.

That Fan:  Do people travel to each site or do you typically find someone who lives in the location of where Gameday is being taped?  
Tom Pounds:  Typically fans and alums live within 50 miles of where the show is being broadcast that week.  This year, the exception has been the show at Penn State.  The WSU grad/Penn State grad student who was there, had graduated.  New York city and New Jersey Cougs had to drive 250 miles to cover it (my Pittsburgh guys were nowhere to be found either).

That Fan:  How do you find people in other cities?  For instance, if a school is getting a broadcast for the first time, do you have to track someone down or will people reach out to you wanting to do it?
Tom Pounds:  Back in 2003 and 2004 finding people was difficult.  Other than the first 2 weeks in-a-row (as mentioned before), I used a network of Coug alums and fans from the Scout.com sports board: Cougfan.com.  It was strictly by word-of-mouth and through Cougfan that I found people to do the shows.  Some people had to drive hundreds of miles to get to the shows.  Eventually I got a ‘critical mass’ of WSU alums and fans on my list but even in 2005 some weeks I was ‘sweating it out’ on late Thursday (deadline to ship overnight to Friday).  Last year and this year WSU fans are e-mailing me ahead of time wanting to wave the flags on the show.  I now have (at latest count) 134 people on my list in just about every city ESPN normally goes to.  Sometimes the WSU alumni office will assist in finding someone, but that’s rare that I have to ask for help.

That Fan:  Are the flag carriers always Washington State fans or are they people who have agreed to help you out?
Tom Pounds:  I’d say 90% of the flag-wavers are WSU alums. Certainly the other 10% are *fans* of what we do.  Some regular flag-wavers are actually alums of other schools.

That Fan:  Are you ever worried someone is secretly a Washington fan looking to sabotage you?
Tom Pounds:  Back in 2003 and 2004, sabotage was always a concern.  Through 2005, 2006, and 2007 not so much, as I had my crew of regulars doing the shows.  As the effort gained popularity and more people asked to be put on the list, I started to worry more about sabotage, again.  The WSU alumni office will verify anyone claiming to be an alum and I have used this service many times.  Other fan websites (scout.com, rivals.com etc. — for the school hosting Gameday) will always post about the CGD show coming to their school.  Reading those threads is very telling.  I have read posts of host school fans plotting against the WSU flag, but in every case they are chastised by the majority of the others on that board.

That Fan:  Is there anything else in it for the flag carriers other than knowing they are a part of the streak?  Do you pay them or do they get to keep the flags?
Tom Pounds:  Everyone who does the show and waves the WSU flag is a volunteer.  An organization called the Ol’ Crimson Booster Club, a grassroots organization of WSU alums and fans collects money to pay for shipping costs, but if someone has to travel more than about 100 miles we will pay for their gas.  Doing the show is a great experience.

That Fan:  What is your typical week of preparation like in getting the flags there for Gameday, starting with when you find out where the show will be located?
Tom Pounds:  My typical week for getting the flags on the show starts with reading the ESPN site late Sunday afternoon to find out where they will be the following Saturday.  Keep in mind — even the ESPN producers do not generally know where the show will be more than 6 days in advance.  Once I know where they will be, I look on my list to see who is in that city (or geographic area) and I send out e-mails.  Sometimes I will make a phone call, too.  Usually, by Monday I have a name of someone who is available to do the show.  Back in 2003 and 2004, “Usually”, was Thursday — talk about stress!  Once I have a name (and address), I simply pass that information to the person who has the flags.  This comes as a standard set of instructions for how to fill out a FedEx Airbill, complete with the account number.  The flags usually arrive at the next person’s home by Friday afternoon and they take them to the show the next morning.  FedEx hasn’t failed us, yet.

That Fan:  I think I read somewhere that you make the flags, is that true?
Tom Pounds:  Like I said before, the first flag was hand-made by my mom (visiting at the time).  All the rest of the flags have been hand sewn by my wife, Syndie (who passed away last January).

That Fan:  How many sets of your flags are out there?
Tom Pounds:  There is one set of flags, only: a burgundy/crimson nylon flag, a white nylon flag, and a commercial nylon flag (donated by the WSU book store in 2003).  In addition there is a cloth flag for autographs.  Some of the past flags have been retired but replaced with newer identical ones.  3 have been lost in transition — 1 off the back of a pickup truck; two fallen out of a broken shipping tube.

That Fan:  How much money do you spend on doing this?
Tom Pounds:  Back in 2003 a non-profit corporation was set up in Washington to raise money and distribute funds for this effort.  WSU fans have donated thousands of dollars over the years to keep this thing going.  Our annual budget is approximately $2,500.00.  That includes all shipping costs, things like new flagpoles, material for new flags, and paying for some people’s travel expense.  Remember that guy who volunteered his daughter to go to Bowling Green? He’s the one who set up the corporation — the Ol’ Crimson Booster Club.

That Fan:  You seem to be quite the Washington State celebrity. Does anyone from the school administration ever reach out to you?
Tom Pounds:  The WSU AD asked me to speak at 2 fundraisers earlier this year.  I also spoke at a fund-raiser in 2004.  The athletic department wants me to help set up a web site with information on the flag.

That Fan:  How long do you envision keeping this going?
Tom Pounds:  My immediate goal is to see the flag present at 100 CGD shows in-a-row.  This will happen next year. After that I would like to see ESPN bring the show to Pullman, WA.  Even then there isn’t any real reason to quit.  I might have someone else take over if I get tired of doing the organizing.

Flags

That was a great interview.  If any of you have additional questions for him, let me know and I will try and get them answered.  If you’d like to donate money to the cause you can find more info HERE.  I’m looking forward to seeing if a new WSU flag commercial is unveiled this week on Gameday. Tom – you ‘da man!


ESPN College Gameday Signs (11/7/09)

November 7, 2009

This week’s edition of ESPN College Gameday was in Colorado Springs for the Air Force/Army game, and I was very impressed with the crowd and the signage.  This was the third Gameday broadcast from Air Force, the last being in 2002.  Wondering why they chose Air Force rather than Ohio St./Penn St. and LSU/Bama?  ESPN did this as part of their continuing tribute to the United States armed forces, and kudos to ESPN for doing so.  On behalf of That Fan I also want to thank all military personnel out there for all you do.

A few observations from this week:  1)  The guest picker was Lt. Colonel Scott “Spike” Thomas, an all-American safety at Air Force in 1985.  Spike’s plane was shot down in Iraq in the original Gulf War.  2)  Jenn Brown was back again and yes, she’s still pretty damn hot.  3)  No one won this week’s That Fan contest, so we will try again next week.   4)  There were quite a few guys proposing to their significant other via a Gameday sign.

Now let’s move onto the best signs of the day.  With this being a rivalry game there were obviously a lot of signs slamming the other team, but it sure is odd seeing signs making fun of the armed forces.  First up, lets start with all the rivalry signs:

GoodBadUgly

"The Good (Air Force), The Bad (Navy), The Ugly (Army)"

Again, this is very odd posting signs that say these types of things but if our armed forces can make the signs, I figured I could at least post them…

BombArmy

"Bomb Army"

Pound

"Hey Army: We're gonna pound you into the ground!"

Problems

"E.S.P.N.: Air Force, fixin' Army's problems since 1947"

Double bonus here with the sign and the website.  Be sure to thank our troops and visit www.ourmilitary.mil:

StudyHard

"Study hard or you'll end up at Army"

Corso definitely got a lot of love today:

GeneralCorso

"General Corso --->" (Great sign placement!)

Notsofast

"Not so fast, my friend!"

TenchHut

"Corso: Tench HUT!"

This next one needs some explaining.  At first I didn’t know why the hell this guy would have a sign that says this, but after doing some research I found a pretty funny story that I think explains it:

Naked

"Lee Corso: Naked Man!"

If you haven’t seen the Kirk Herbstreit ‘Salsa Boy’ commercial, please click HERE to watch it now!  (I couldn’t get the entire sign):

SalsaBoy

"My friends call me Salsa Boy"

Air Force fans are still bitter about basketball coach Jeff Bzdelik leaving them:

Bzdelik

"I will find you Bzdelik!"

Now, now.  I’m sure Alabama’s Terrance “Mount” Cody has a very healthy diet:

Corndogs

"Mt. Cody eats corndogs for breakfast"

Speaking of healthy diets:

FatKids

"Fat Kidz 4 Heisman"

Water is good:

H20

"I Love H2O"

Iowa fans had a decent presence today, but only one sign worth showing:

HawkOut

"Rock out with your Hawk out"

Lamp

"I Love (Lamp) Football"

This guy followed through on his promise to mom to get on TV.  Bonus – he made it on That Fan as well:

Promise

"I promised mom I'd be on TV!!!"

I’m surprised we only saw two Brandon Spikes signs after his eye-gouging performance:

Heyesman

"Spikes for H'eyes'man"

NeedEyes

"Please B-Spikes, I need my eyes to be a pilot!!"

Looks like Matt Barkley and Army QB Trent Steelman have something in common.  Will we see another added to the list next week?

Twilight

"T. Steelman reads Twilight!"

The remaining signs are all Air Force related:

Defense

"United States Department of D-Fence"

I think this was an Army guy making fun of Air Force grammar…I think:

MeLikePlanes

"Me like planes"

This is a two-sign combo, comparing Steve Urkel to Air Force linebacker Andre Morris (click here for a better Morris picture).  Has anyone seen both of these guys in the same room at the same time?:

Urkel

"The Good Urkel, The Bad A$$ Morris"

Another two sign combo, this time a serious version:

Thank You Soldiers

"Two teams, one nation" & "Thank you soldiers! College Gameday, Veteran's day, EVERYDAY!"

As much as civilians thank the armed forces, they would like to show some love back:

Taxpayers

"Thank you TAXPAYERS!"

I wish I could have gotten a full shot of this one:

Tuition

"E.S.P.N.: Taxpayer Dollars Pay My Tuition!"

Air Force fans wanted Corso to pick them…

FlipBird

"Lee, flip us the bird"

…and he did just that:

Lastly, I’ve got to show the Washington State flags flying proudly…special story on this to come this week:

WSU

That’s all the signs from today’s episode.  Be sure to check back today or tomorrow for the poll to vote for your favorite sign of the week.  I’ll put together a survey at the end of the year for people to select the  best sign of the year.  If you didn’t vote for last week’s sign yet, you can do so HERE.

Lastly, I want to remind everyone that I am starting a contest where those of you who couldn’t make it to Gameday can still show off your signs to fans around the world.  Use the template below and photoshop or edit your message.  Click HERE to learn more details on how to enter the contest!

blanksign


Wish You Were at College Gameday? Now You Can Be!

November 6, 2009

How many of you have ever been to an actual ESPN College Gameday broadcast?  Hopefully a lot of you, buy my guess is maybe 10% or 15% of you.  I was lucky enough to go to a couple, most notably the “Bush Push” game where USC beat Notre Dame after Matt Leinart got shoved into the endzone by Reggie.  Anyways, the atmosphere is amazing, and as cool as it looks on TV, it is even better in person.

I’m starting something new this week that I hope catches on, and that I think can have the potential to be something pretty big.  Now, I can’t promise you this new addition to That Fan will help you get a sense of the fun atmosphere of being at a Gameday, but I can give you the excitement of getting your sign broadcasted to fans across the country

Starting this week, I’d like to start a contest for all you fans who want to make a College Gameday sign but can’t make it to a broadcast to get your sign shown.  Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the “That Fan Fantasy Gameday” contest.  This may last one week, it may last for decades, that all depends on you.  I’m giving you a template for a blank sign below, photoshop/edit it however you please, and make the sign you would make if Gameday was at your school this week!

BlankSign

I haven’t worked out all the details on how this is going to work yet, but I thought the idea was too good to delay.  This is what I’m thinking…I will personally view each and every sign created and pick the best ones to be voted on each week in a poll by the readers.  The winners will get some sort of prize and be entered into the year-end vote for the best sign of the year.  As for prizes, I’m not sure yet, but I’ll think of something soon and get back to you. 

How can you enter your sign?  Two ways: 1) email it to info@thatfan.com.  2) Upload it to Twitter and let me know via @ThatFan.  This is my preferred method because even if I don’t pick your sign to post to the site, other people can still see them by doing a search on Twitter.  Maybe we start a trending topic like #ThatFan (if you aren’t on Twitter or don’t know what a trending topic is, let me know and I’ll give you the scoop).  Yes, you can submit multiple entries and I actually encourage it.  For this week’s contest, please submit all signs by Sunday at 11:59PM.

Again, this contest could fizz out after this week, and I don’t expect a ton of entries this week, but I think it has the potential to grow to be a huge and fun thing for fans to look forward to every week.  Post a comment with your thoughts!


College Gameday Contest – Get That Fan on a Sign!

November 5, 2009

Last week I held the first contest here at That Fan, basically to get the site mentioned on a sign at the Oregon broadcast.  I wasn’t able to spot any winners, although the crowd was enormous and most of the signs never got on camera.  What I’m asking is for someone who is going to be in the crowd to get That Fan some pub on a sign.  It doesn’t have to be on a sign all to its own, so you can do whatever sign you have planned and then just throw “That Fan” somewhere on the sign (make sure it is still visible).  Better yet, make it large and throw it on the back of your sign.  I know, I know, “What’s in it for me?”

Well, if I can see the sign on TV for even just a few seconds, I’ll give you a $25 gift card to anywhere of your choice.  If the sign gets major airtime, I’ll up it to $50.  If it is a particularly good sign I’ll just send you the money via PayPal.  You will also get MAJOR pub on this site of course!  That might not sound like much but considering I’m funding this out of my own wallet, and assuming you are more than likely a college student, its drinking money you didn’t have previously.  How do you claim your prize?  Send me a picture of you holding your sign, and I will compare it to the sign I saw on TV to make sure it is the same sign.  Easy as that.  **Just an FYI, if a miracle occurs and I see 20 signs showing up on the broadcast, I reserve my right to provide gift cards only to the best signs!**  Examples for your sign, although I encourage creativity:  “I AM THAT FAN”, “THATFAN.COM”, “blog.thatfan.com”, etc.  I am running this contest every week going forward (including basketball season!) so if your school is hosting Gameday in the future, keep checking the site for details.

Crowd


Just Another Reason I Love LSU Fans

November 4, 2009

In case you haven’t noticed, this blog isn’t your typical sports blog.  I’m not going to talk about last night’s basketball game, or give you a preview of the World Series.  What I will do however, is talk about FANS.  This blog is made by a FAN, about FANS, for FANS.  There is nothing that gets me more pumped than seeing a fanbase go above and beyond the call of duty, and LSU fans have a good history of doing just that.  Not only is Tiger Stadium one of the most intimidating places to play a game on the field, but the Tiger fans have been trying to do some intimidating off the field as well.

This week LSU fans have gotten ahold of Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy’s cell phone number and have been bombarding him with texts and calls.  I’d be willing to guess these people aren’t calling to wish him good luck either.

The best thing about this is that it isn’t the first, second, or even the third time they’ve done this.  This has happened numerous times the last few years, so much so that it is starting to become a tradition!  Here at That Fan, one thing that makes us happy is a great fan tradition, and this is one for the record books.

Earlier this year it was Florida head coach Urban Meyer, backup QB John Brantley and wide receiver Riley Cooper.

Urban Meyer Sign

"Urban, Did U Get My Text?"

Last year they tracked down the number for Georgia running back Knowshon Moreno.  A couple games later it was Alabama QB John Parker Wilson.  Two years ago they dialed in to Tim Tebow.  All three players later taunted the LSU crowd with a “call me” signal after scoring touchdowns.

WilsonMoreno

"Hey Tiger fans, can you hear me now??"

In case you were wondering, LSU won vs. Florida in 2007 and Tebow had a decent game.  LSU lost to Georgia last year and Moreno rushed for 163 yards and a score.  They also lost to Alabama last year although Wilson had a poor game.  Florida did beat LSU this year, although it was a close game.  Maybe the calls had some impact, maybe they didn’t, but it sure is fun to pretend that they did! 

Let me be the first to say that on behalf of That Fan, I do not condone any fans making threatening calls, but I see absolutely nothing wrong with (and encourage in a sinister sort of way) calling and texting a player non-stop to try and get in his head.  Good job LSU, you have made That Fan proud!


College Football Attendance – Week 9

November 3, 2009

Here are the top 5 stadium attendance figures from college football this past weekend (home team listed first):

1)  Ohio State vs. New Mexico:  W, 45-0  (104,719)

2)  Tennessee vs. South Carolina:  W, 31-13  (96,263)

3)  LSU vs. Tulane:  W, 42-0  (92,031)

4)  Auburn vs. Mississippi:  W, 33-20  (84,756)

5)  Florida vs. Georgia:  W, 41-17  (84,604)

If I missed something let me know.  A few things to point out:  1)  This is the fourth week in a row that a Big Ten team has been first on the list.  2)  Most of the ten schools with the largest stadiums were playing away games this week, thus the reason for the lower attendance totals compared to the last several weeks.  3)  Four of the top five were SEC teams…is there any doubt that they love their football down there?  4)  The Florida/Georgia game wasn’t at UF, rather it was in their usual neutral site of Jacksonville.  Congrats to the Buckeyes!

OSUFans


Reader Submissions (Nike Shocker/FSU/Jenn Brown)

November 3, 2009

Reader Submissions is something I’d  like to do a few times a week where I share pictures that blog readers have sent in for me to share with everyone.  I am not biased so if you have a picture that you think is cool, chances are I will as well, and then I’ll post it.  What am I looking for?  Pictures of crazy fans, sexy female sports fans, funny shirts, funny signs, cheerleaders, etc.  What are you waiting for?  Send pictures to:  info@thatfan.com

Our first picture of the day comes from Jeremy in Oregon, who just so happens to be the same fan I pointed out that was throwing the shocker behind Lee Corso as he hopped on the motorcycle at Gameday (click here for the video).  Jeremy found That Fan and was also kind enough to send this beauty of a Kodak moment of him throwing the shocker up with Nike founder Phil Knight.  I prefer to call this one the Nike Shocker…Great work Jeremy!

NikeShocker

The Shocker: Just Do It!

The next picture comes from Danny in Cincinnati, and is his version of this week’s “Our Cheerleaders are Hotter”.  He apparently is a Florida State fan, and although they may be having some issues with their head coach, they don’t look to be having any issues with their cheerleaders.

FSUCheer

Our Cheerleaders are Hotter - FSU Style

The last picture of the day comes from Nate in Louisville, and is actually a picture I’ve been meaning to get around to posting anyway, so a big thanks to Nate for reminding me.  What would a day at That Fan be like without some Jenn Brown?  Dull.  Very dull.  With no further delay, I give you Jenn Brown’s Halloween costume from this year:

JBHalloween

Ten yards is worth a holding penalty if you ask me...