College Game Day

1955 - Lee Corso

When ESPN sportscaster Leland “Lee” Corso is described as “beloved” by co-workers and others in the industry, the word’s use is apt. What many casual viewers don’t know is that Corso was a bona fide football star and epitomized the American Dream. His parents emigrated from Italy to escape the effects of World War II and typifying the many immigrants of similar background, worked hard to build a new life in Florida. His father was a laborer and his mother a school cafeteria worker. Corso, despite his slight build, was an athletic star in multiple sports at Miami Andrew Jackson High School and turned down an offer to play for the Brooklyn Dodgers organization upon graduation. He instead accepted a football scholarship to Florida State University and helped to take what was only a six year program to wide spread recognition and a trip to the 1954 Sun Bowl in his sophomore year. A two-way player who set school interception records that stood for decades, Corso utilized his quarterbacking skills and leadership abilities to become the sparkplug for the Seminoles squad and very much became a coach on the field. He completed his active football career as a starter in the Blue Gray All Star Game and played baseball throughout his tenure at Florida State.

Corso took his undergraduate and MA degrees into the coaching profession, and earned the reputation as a top recruiter. After seven seasons as an assistant at Maryland and the U.S. Naval Academy, he became he head coach at the University of Louisville where coincidentally, he coached ESPN co-worker Tom Jackson. Success there led to the head coaching job at Indiana where he continued building his reputation as an innovative, enthusiastic coach who got the most out of his players.


After ten seasons with the Hoosiers, Corso spent a year at Northern Illinois and then, in 1985, accepted a head coaching position with the United States Football League Orlando Renegades, bringing him closer to home. When the league folded, he embarked on his broadcasting career in earnest and has become one of the most recognizable figures in the industry. Best known for his role on the College Game Day Show which begain in 1987, Corso’s pre-game insights are often lost to his enthusiastic humor which has given the nation the catchphrase, “Not so fast my friend!”


On October 5, 1996, the viewing nation was treated to another Corso original: his game prediction that featured his donning of a mascot head. He utilized the “connections” of former Ohio State quarterback and College Game Day co-host Kirk Herbstreit to gain access to the head piece of school mascot Brutus Buckeye when predicting Ohio State’s victory. A tradition was born and certainly has become the highlight of every show. Entering the 2013 season, he has worn various college team mascot head pieces or team helmets more than 210 times.


The nation was treated to a tremendously anticipated game between Atlantic Coast Conference and in-state rivals Miami and Florida State on November 2, 2013 as the two undefeated teams faced off in a critical game with national championship implications for Florida State. While most fans naturally assumed that Corso would support his alma mater, he surprised all when he made his prediction while decked out in the gold Florida State jersey worn during the 1953 season, featuring his own number 20. The featured item of his “prediction attire” was of course, his headwear and he treated all to a glimpse of the same gold Riddell RT suspension helmet with garnet one-inch center stripe that his Seminole team wore “back in the day.” One of a series of authentic Florida State helmets that were meticulously researched and verified through photos and first-person sources, Corso selected the one that best reflected his school colors and made for another of his memorable predictions. Lee Corso is “an original,” and he chose what can only be described as “original attire” to predict his own Florida State’s eventual victory over the University of Miami. 

If interested in any of these Florida State helmets please click on the photos below.