At age 78 and still battling minor speech issues four years after a stroke, Lee Corso is in no hurry to give up his spot as college football's premier showman on its most popular weekly show, ESPN's “College GameDay.”
“No, they might have to drag me off, like the old vaudeville act,” said Corso, who is in his 26th season with the show.
Although he has heard rumors that Texas coach Mack Brown might join the show after his coaching days are over, Corso said he can't have his seat.
“If he ever wants to join ‘GameDay,'” Corso said, “I would be glad to give him the chair next to me.”
Corso, a former Louisville, Indiana and Northern Illinois head coach, admits he has difficulty speaking at times, but hopes to be an inspiration to other stroke victims. His first public speech after the stroke was in August 2010 in Oklahoma City at St. Anthony's Stroke of Courage event.
“I still have a problem with my speech if I don't have a good-enough rest,” he said. “All in all, God has been good to me. I've been feeling pretty well. I hope to be an example to other people who've had a stroke before, you can get over it and get over it well.”
“College GameDay,” which airs 8-11 a.m., is making its fourth appearance in Stillwater on Saturday and is previewing the Baylor-OSU game, which will be nationally televised at 7 p.m. on ABC. The three previous visits involved Bedlam games (2004, 2008 and 2010), and OSU lost all three.
“The (Baylor) Bears are a sensational team, but the Cowboys have got a very good chance of upsetting them,” Corso said. He noted two OSU stats weighed heavily in the home team's favor — leading the nation in interceptions and having scored 24 nonoffensive touchdowns the last three years. “That could be the difference in the ballgame.”
An Orlando, Fla., resident, he and the rest of the “GameDay” crew will be wearing coats for the first time this season. He will be joined on the set by host Chris Fowler and analyst Kirk Herbstreit, who will call the game with Brent Musburger. The “GameDay” roster also includes analysts Desmond Howard and David Pollack, with reporting by Samantha Ponder, Tom Rinaldi, Scott Van Pelt and Gene Wojciechowski.
Corso said it has been rewarding to see crowds for the show continue to grow.
“The reason is the game is so exciting and we now have become an event. Whenever we go somewhere, it's an event. We were in Fargo, North Dakota. They closed the town down.”
The show's highlight is always Corso's headgear prediction, which he said he makes on Wednesdays when he alerts producers and the school's sports information director.
Corso is 9-3 in his headgear picks this season. After struggling early, he has hit six in a row, including picking USC to upset Stanford last week in the show from the USC campus. “But I cut my lip in a sword fight with Herbstreit,” he said.
Earlier this season, actor Bill Murray pushed him to the ground after Corso picked his alma mater Florida State to defeat Clemson at Tallahassee, Fla.
“He pinned me. He just laid me gently in the sod and jumped on me. And I will promise you, that was not planned at all. I was fine. He can't hurt a Seminole.”
Corso said he can't let his feelings for any schools, including his alma mater, affect his judgment. He noted that he picked OU over Florida State in 2011 when his three triplet grandsons joined him on the stage.
“I said, ‘Boys, don't take it personal, this is strictly business.' I took that from the Godfather.
“You got to be neutral. I just do the best I can to make college football fun. I always felt like I'm in the entertainment business and college football is my vehicle.”