CRAWFORD | Long live the headgear: Corso signs multi-year ESPN e - WDRB 41 Louisville News

CRAWFORD | Long live the headgear: Corso signs multi-year ESPN extension

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Lee Corso, next to Laila Ali, made the right pick before Louisville's game against Florida State. Eric Crawford writes that ESPN made the right call retaining him for College GameDay. (ESPN PR photo). Lee Corso, next to Laila Ali, made the right pick before Louisville's game against Florida State. Eric Crawford writes that ESPN made the right call retaining him for College GameDay. (ESPN PR photo).
Lee Corso on the set before Louisville's game against Florida State. (WDRB photo by Mike DeZarn.) Lee Corso on the set before Louisville's game against Florida State. (WDRB photo by Mike DeZarn.)
Lee Corso picks the Gators at Commonwealth Stadium in Lexington in October of 2007. (ESPN photo) Lee Corso picks the Gators at Commonwealth Stadium in Lexington in October of 2007. (ESPN photo)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Not so fast, my friends.

Lee Corso is 81 years old. ESPN has been slashing talent right and left to bring expenses in line. The numbers didn’t look so promising for the former University of Louisville and Indiana University football coach who has become synonymous with ESPN’s College GameDay football show.

Thankfully, the headgear will stay with us. Corso has inked a multi-year extension with ESPN, the network announced on Wednesday.

With so much change, it was good to see this stay the same at the four-letter network. Corso is fun. He worked his way back from a stroke, and continues to provide entertainment and insight. He joined ESPN in 1987 and is the only original GameDay personality still with the program.

It would be nine years, however, before he ever put on a team’s headgear to go with his game prediction. That came on  Oct. 5, 1996, prior to the Ohio State-Penn State game in Columbus, Ohio, when he put on the “Brutus Buckeye” mascot head.

“I reflect on my 30 years at ESPN and continue to count my blessings each time I walk on the College GameDay set,” Corso said. “The fans keep me energized, and being surrounded by such a talented and dynamic GameDay crew is the best medicine for this old coach.”

When Corso is there, you know it’s an event in college football. Certainly, having him in Louisville for last season’s Louisville-Florida State game was a special treat, given his connection to football at U of L, and his well-known affinity for his alma mater, FSU. And it was a big deal when he was there on Oct. 20, 2007 in Lexington, even if he did pick Florida to beat host Kentucky in Commonwealth Stadium.

“Nobody epitomizes what College GameDay is more than Lee Corso,” said his ESPN GameDay colleague, Rece Davis. “His pure enthusiasm and love for college football, the pageantry and his deep connection with the fans are the heartbeat of our show. College football Saturdays aren’t ready for kickoff until Coach puts on that headgear. His energy and personality have permanently etched that moment into the lore of the sport. I have so much respect for Lee as a teammate. He cares deeply about the good of the show and the people involved with it, both on camera and behind-the-scenes. As much fun as it is to work with him every Saturday morning on College GameDay, it’s almost that much fun keeping up with him on the sideline during the game every week.  The Sunshine Scooter has still got some wheels. I couldn’t be more delighted that we will get to work together for many years to come.”

ESPN’s stats department says Corso is 193-101 in his headgear predictions. His 300th will come in the sixth game of the upcoming season. But it’s less about accuracy than attitude. Corso’s enthusiasm for the game and his love of what he’s doing make him a winner every week, something you never can experience as a coach.

“Coach Corso has been the mainstay on College GameDay since the beginning and we couldn’t imagine the show without him,” said Lee Fitting, ESPN senior coordinating producer. “Arguably, nobody has done as much for the popularity of college football over the past 30 years than Coach Corso. His dedication, preparation and unwavering love for College GameDay and its fans is so powerful and we are lucky to call him ours.”

Corso has slowed a bit with age and health concerns. But every time I see him on GameDay, I feel happy. You don’t have to be young and slick to contribute to the world, even in the media. You'll have to forgive my moment of nostalgia. I still miss "Leonard's Losers," on the radio. I'm glad we're not saying goodbye to Corso on Saturday mornings just yet.

“Lee Corso is College GameDay,” Kirk Herbstreit said.

Let’s hope he is for a long time to come.

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