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By Jeff Kolpack and Kevin Schnepf, Published September 21 2013

Cougars 'GameDay' tradition extended in Fargo

FARGO – As the wife of the former executive director of the North Dakota State University Development Foundation, Pam Miller knows the Bison tradition. And she knows football.

Add a splice of history with her alma mater, Washington State, and Saturday morning was virtually heaven on earth.

“I didn’t know it was a bucket-list issue for me but when I realized ESPN ‘College GameDay’ was coming, I wanted to be part of it,” she said.

She was part of a Cougars tradition that is going on 10 years. Specifically, WSU has had a school flag in front of the “GameDay” cameras every show for the last decade. And there it was again for the 135th straight time on Broadway, the crimson WSU flag, amidst a sea of yellow and green Bison fans.

Miller, a 1978 WSU graduate, was put in charge of coordinating the flag, which was actually one of three that are shipped to each “GameDay” location. Last week, they were in College Station, Texas for the Alabama at Texas A&M game.

The tradition started 10 years ago when Washington State forged a campaign to get “GameDay” to come to the Pullman, Wash., campus. It still has yet to get there.

“They will,” said Miller, whose husband, Jim Miller, recently retired from his NDSU alumni post. “I think the Cougars are a lot like the Bison. They travel very well and they are super loyal.”

So loyal that she said fans traveled from Minneapolis and Lincoln, Neb., to be part of the flag tradition in Fargo. ESPN, by the way, loves the story, said Lee Fitting, the show’s coordinating producer. On Friday, an ESPN production worker told Pam Miller exactly where the flag should be positioned. On Saturday morning, a couple ESPN crew members had the same advice.

“I think they’re amazed we continue to do this,” Pam Miller said.

Mistakes cost Hornets

vs. another top team

It was another learning experience for the Hornets, who lost to fourth-ranked Towson State (Md.) before the 51-0 loss to No. 1 NDSU on Saturday. DSU got just 34 yards rushing and gave up 548 total yards to NDSU.

“That’s a tough football team we played,” said Hornets head coach Kermit Blount. “Any time you play a team like North Dakota State or UD (Delaware) or Towson State, they make you pay for your mistakes.”

Asked to compare NDSU and Towson, Blount said it would be a toss-up.

“They both have the same-style teams,” he said. “They try to be aggressive and physical.”

NCAA official impressed

with ‘GameDay’ event

Damani Leech, the NCAA’s managing director of championships, has witnessed the Bison following in Frisco, Texas. But never in Fargo.

ESPN’s “College GameDay” appearance lured him to Fargo for the first time.

“The atmosphere was phenomenal,” Leech said of the “GameDay” show that was televised from downtown Fargo Saturday morning. “There was a sincere appreciation from the ESPN staff with all that the city of Fargo and North Dakota State did for them.”

For the first time, Leech got to experience a Bison game in the Fargodome.

“It is legendary here, how loud it can get,” he said. “Now that I’m here in person, I’m amazed at how close the stands are here to the field on how vertical it is.”

He said he was amazed at how many students were at the game.

“That’s becoming a problem across the country, even at places like Alabama, where they are struggling to get the students to come to the games,” Leech said. “So to see this kind of support for a nonconference game that really isn’t expected to be a tough matchup, the support is awesome.”

Etc. etc. etc.

NDSU starting defensive end Cole Jirik left the game in the first half with a shoulder injury. Head coach Craig Bohl said he didn’t think it would keep him from playing in the South Dakota State game next week. … Jensen’s completions record broke the old mark of 536 set by Steve Walker from 2004-07. His total offense mark broke Walker’s record of 7,144 yards.