Two weeks from today we will be getting ready to watch the first college football games of the season. Week zero is headlined by Nebraska vs Northwestern and Illinois vs Wyoming. Fans across the country have their own gameday routines. Some including eating the same food each Saturday, some might be wearing the same jersey. Personally I wake up and follow the same morning routine. It starts with waking up and making my breakfast of choice and enjoying my cup off coffee followed by three hours of College Gameday. The show culminates with Lee Corso’s extravagant headgear selection for the host site’s game. Some fans are annoyed by Corso but he has helped become what it is today. Corso could retire from the the show anytime in the near future so let’s enjoy him while we can. His headgear selection is number 14 in our series 99 Things.
Corso joined College Gameday in 1987 when the show first began. The show started going to campuses for the premier game of the week. Fans began to bring creative signs which exploded and now each weekend has hundreds of signs. College Gameday gained popularity over the years with fans starting to arrive earlier and earlier. The sea of signs neighbors various flags including the famous traveling Washington State flag. Each week fans can watch on television and find something new and different from previous weeks. What used to be a preview show has turned into a lifestyle event. Students have been known to camp out or arrive well before sunrise to get as close to the stage as possible.
All of these aspects are important to College Gameday but the show truly transformed after Corso began his headgear picks. The first headgear pick came in 1995 when College Gameday made a visit to Columbus for the Penn State vs Ohio State matchup. He put on a Brutus head picking the Buckeyes to beat the Nittany Lions. Ohio State won by a score of 38-7. He would put a mascot head on three more times during the 1996 season picking Ohio State again and Alabama twice. The head gear was an instant success and became a consist part of College Gameday. Fans get in on the action anticipating who he will pick. Corso is not afraid to pick against the home team knowing he will get booed picking the opposing team especially if it’s an arch rival.
The pick started as a fun way to pick a winner and has developed into an elaborate show of its own. Corso has gone as far as putting on the entire costume which he did by picking UCF in 2018. He also has brought additional props on set with him for his picks. Corso once picked Oklahoma State and began firing guns into the sky after his selection. Each week he is looking for a new and creative way to entertain the crowd and draw allure to his pick. According to ESPN, through 2019 Corso has donned 61 different mascot heads. ESPN also lists his win/loss record at 228-121 when putting on the costume. Corso’s winning record is one reason why the segment has been so popular.
Corso recently turned 87 which means he is likely to retire in the near future. He has said he continues to do College Gameday because he truly loves being part of the show. Corso suffered a stroke in 2009 which resulted in partial paralysis and loss of speech. He occasionally struggles to get words out or will mention the wrong team. Kirk Herbstreit has been great helping Corso get his point across over the past decade. Corso has been an integral part of the show the past 30 years and deserves to retire on his terms. Enjoy the remaining shows we have because replacing a legend is impossible.