Corso on the set of College GameDay
August 7, 1935 |
South Amboy, New Jersey
|Coaching career (HC unless noted)|
|Florida State (GA)
|Head coaching record|
College Football Data Warehouse
|Accomplishments and honors|
2 Missouri Valley (1970, 1972)
Leland "Lee" Corso (born August 7, 1935) is an American sports broadcaster and football analyst for ESPN and former long-time college football coach. He has been a featured analyst on ESPN's College GameDay program since its inception in 1987.
Early life and playing career
Corso's parents, Alessandro and Irma, were Italian immigrants. His father fled Italy during World War II at age 15. Alessandro, who had a second-grade education, was a lifelong laborer who laid terrazzo flooring and Irma, who had a fifth-grade education, worked in school cafeterias and boarding schools.
Corso was born in South Amboy, New Jersey. He attended South Amboy High School where he played quarterback. A baseball prospect, he was offered a $5,000 bonus to sign with the Brooklyn Dodgers as a shortstop. However, he chose college, playing football at Florida State University (FSU), where he was a roommate of football player and actor Burt Reynolds and future University of Miami baseball coach Ron Fraser. While at FSU, Corso earned the nickname "Sunshine Scooter" for his speed on the football field.
As a defensive player, he set the school record for most career interceptions (14), a record that stood for more than two decades until it was broken by Monk Bonasorte. He was also a member of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity. Corso was the starting quarterback for the South in the 1956 Blue-Gray Game, though his squad lost to the Len Dawson-led North team, 14–0. Corso also was a baseball player for FSU.
Corso graduated from Florida State with a bachelor's degree in physical education in 1957 and a master's degree in administration and supervision in 1958.
After college, Corso became the quarterbacks coach at Maryland under his former FSU coach Tommy Nugent. In 1962, Corso followed Nugent's guidance to recruit an academically and athletically qualified black player and convinced Darryl Hill to transfer from the Naval Academy, making him the first African-American football player in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
In 1966, Corso became the defensive backs coach at Navy. In 1969, he was named head coach at Louisville where he coached his ESPN colleague Tom Jackson. After taking Louisville to only its second-ever bowl game in 1970, he was hired by Indiana in 1972.
Corso coached at Indiana from 1973 to 1982, leading the Hoosiers to two winning seasons in 1979 and 1980. The 1979 regular season ended with 7-4 record and earned a trip to the 1979 Holiday Bowl. There the Hoosiers would beat the previously unbeaten Brigham Young Cougars. Indiana's victory over the Cougars propelled the team to 16th in the UPI poll, the Hoosiers' first top-20 ranking since 1967. During one game in the 1976 season, Corso called a time out after his team scored a touchdown early in the 2nd quarter. The entire team huddled together for a photograph with the scoreboard filling the background. It read: Indiana 7, Ohio State 6. It was the first time in 25 years that the Hoosiers lead the Buckeyes in a football game. Corso's record was 41–68–2 over his ten years at Indiana.
In 1987, Corso was hired by ESPN as an analyst for its Saturday College GameDay program that originates from the site of one of the day's big games. He often plays the role of comic foil to co-hosts Desmond Howard, Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit as they cover the major college football games from August until January. Corso's catchphrase, "Not so fast, my friend!", with pencil always in hand, is usually directed at Kirk Herbstreit, in disagreement with Herbstreit's predictions. Corso also calls nearly everyone "sweetheart."
Corso is also known for ending every weekly show with his mascot headgear prediction, when he chooses who he thinks will win the game at GameDay's site by donning the headpiece of the school's mascot. It started on October 5, 1996 prior to the Ohio State-Penn State game at Columbus, Ohio when he got the idea to don the OSU "Brutus Buckeye" mascot head to show his pick to win the game. As of October 2013, he estimates he has worn the headgear of various teams 220 times.
Corso makes a brief cameo in a 2006 Nike commercial featuring the fictional Briscoe High School football team, portrayed by football icons such as Michael Vick, LaDainian Tomlinson, Brian Urlacher, Troy Polamalu, by coaches Don Shula, Jimmy Johnson, and Urban Meyer, and by fellow FSU great Deion Sanders. Corso takes his hawk mascot head off while the game's deciding play unfolds in slow-motion.
Corso appeared annually in EA Sports NCAA Football titles along with Herbstreit and play-by-play man Brad Nessler until NCAA Football 11, in which he does not do play-by-play. The 2006 edition of the game begins with Corso making his mascot headgear prediction. If the team Corso chooses does not have a mascot, he wears the helmet instead like on College GameDay.
Other work, charities, and personal life
In the off-season, Corso serves as Director of Business Development for Dixon Ticonderoga, a Florida-based manufacturer of writing and arts products, including No. 2 pencils (one of which he can always be seen holding on College GameDay). In 2001, Corso spearheaded an effort to create a crayon completely out of soybeans.
Corso serves as honorary chairman of Coaches Curing Kids' Cancer, a charity that raises money for pediatric cancer research through youth sports teams. Corso was honored with the NCFAA's Contributions to College Football Award "recognizing exceptional contributions to college football and a lifetime of achievement and integrity" during the Home Depot College Football Awards show at Walt Disney World on December 9, 2010. Growing up in Miami, Corso attended his local Boys' Club and is listed in the Boys & Girls Clubs of America Alumni Hall of Fame.
In 2010 he was presented the National College Football Awards Association "Contributions to College Football Award", recognizing exceptional contributions to college football and a lifetime of achievement and integrity.
In spring 2009, Corso suffered a stroke at his Florida home, suffering partial paralysis. He spent three days in intensive care and a week in the hospital, followed by a lengthy rehabilitation. He was able to return to his ESPN College GameDay duties for the 2009 season.
Corso has been married to his wife, Betsy, since 1957. They have three children.
Head coaching record
|Louisville Cardinals (Missouri Valley Conference) (1969–1972)|
|Indiana Hoosiers (Big Ten Conference) (1973–1982)|
|Northern Illinois Huskies (Mid-American Conference) (1984)|
|National championship Conference title Conference division title|
|#Rankings from final Coaches' Poll.
°Rankings from final AP Poll.
- http://www.birthdatedatabase.com Lee R Corso 1935-08-07 Lake Mary, FL
- Alumni Hall of Fame: Lee Corso, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, accessed May 17, 2013.
- "2002 Record Book". Florida State University. 2002. p. 259. Retrieved 8 September 2009.
- Tom D'Angelo, "Barriers made to be broken" University of Maryland Terrapins Official Athletic Site, 25 October 2006, accessed 17 January 2008.
- Don't Let 'em Wear You Down!, SI.com
- Hiestand, Michael (20 April 2005). "Corso penciled in for variety". USA Today. Retrieved 2008-04-20.