ESPN’s College Game Day host Lee Corso will be honored by the Liberty Bowl on July 22nd at the Memphis Hilton.
Corso has been a staple on the show since it started in 1987, and while his coaching career wasn’t quite as successful as he would have liked, 73-85-6 and six winning seasons, his TV career has been more successful than he could have dreamt. He will be receiving the AutoZone Liberty Bowl’s 41st Distinguished Citizen Award.
While many rip Corso for his quirky behavior and his now tiresome catch phrase, he keeps the show entertaining and viewers will tune in weekly just to see what mascot head he dons before the games.
“Lee has attracted millions of viewers, especially those who don’t normally follow college football, through his humor and good-natured personality,” said Steve Ehrhart, Liberty Bowl’s executive director and former general manager of the Showboats. “From his days as a coach to the present, he’s brought fun to the game. He understands football isn’t life or death. “
When Corso was first considering a career in television, he wasn’t even sure if he would get the job.
“ESPN brought in two former coaches to audition with me on a set for an undetermined announcing job — Lee and (former Showboats) coach) Pepper Rodgers,” said Tim Brando, who hosted GameDay the first two years and who has hosted CBS’ College Football Today studio show since ’99. “Pepper was a long-winded story teller. Lee could hit you right between the eyes with a couple of quips and bang — he was out of there. Lee was a natural and he was prepared.”
Corso suffered a stroke in 2009 that set him back a bit, robbing him of his speech and partial use of his right arm and leg, but he went to work with therapists and was back on the set of Game Day sooner than the experts thought.
“It was the toughest thing I’ve ever been through and some employers would have let you go after a stroke,” Corso said. “ESPN was wonderful to me. They adjusted my schedule to where I just do three hours of “GameDay” in the morning.
Personally, I enjoy Lee and all his quirks. Yes, sometimes he isn’t too insightful with the information during the show, but he is entertaining and isn’t that what sports are about?