ESPN’s “College GameDay” football circus is back in business this weekend, featuring the return of ringmaster Lee Corso. The TV show is part of the network’s coverage of college football and appears before kickoff. It is typically broadcast from the campus of the home team and features news and pre-game analysis of the day’s upcoming games.
Technically, Corso never left the show. But all his appearances were virtual from his home in Lake Mary, just north of Orlando. The usual hijinks remained, featuring Corso putting on mascot heads to pick game winners, but it was never quite the same.
“It’s nervous getting back into it,” Corso told Growing Bolder. “But I feel very, very excited about doing it.”
Don’t expect any stage fright from Corso. He just celebrated his 86th birthday on Aug. 7; and despite some health issues following a stroke in May 2009, he remains one of the iconic faces of college sports.
Corso entertains, enlightens and brings a self-deprecating artistic flair to the day’s events. He is the perfect sidekick to ESPN partners Rece Davis, Kirk Herbstreit and Desmond Howard.
It was a bit of a logistical challenge last year with the COVID-19 pandemic in everyone’s sightlines. Still. It was a fun ride. Corso still did his schtick from home, and the ESPN crew made sure no laughs were spared with antics of their own.
“They did things, like (putting) this big elephant in my yard,” Corso said. “At the Army-Navy game, they had a big boat. And it snowed in my yard at Christmas. It was really sensational.”
Their improvisational efforts paid off. ESPN’s “College GameDay” won Outstanding Technical Team Studio at the 42nd Annual Sports Emmy Awards in June.
Corso stayed at home for precautionary measures last season. But he says he feels it’s time to hit the open road at college tour stops throughout the country.
“I’ve been good,” he said, “I got three (COVID) shots. I got the two shots, and then I got the booster, and I had to dodge the virus. And I’ve been feeling very, very good health-wise. And that’s one of the most support things last year was that I tried to dodge the virus. I didn’t go on the road because of travel. But this year, I feel vaccinated and ready to go on the road.”
Corso and his sidekicks will be in in Atlanta this weekend showcasing two historically Black colleges and universities North Carolina Central and Alcorn State (7 p.m., Saturday).
“I’m leaving (Thursday) and getting to Atlanta to get this story going,” Corso said.