Corso determined to be ready for Sept. 5 opener

 

 

Today is Lee Corso’s 74th birthday. For Corso and his family, it just might be the happiest birthday ever.

“I’m the oldest guy on television,” Corso said when I reached him on Thursday in Orlando. “I’m glad to have the title.”

Back on May 16 Corso wasn’t sure if there would be a 74th birthday or if he would be returning for another season of ESPN’s award-winning College Game Day show. He suffered what he now calls a “minor” stroke. He admits that it didn’t seem minor at the time.

“It was scary,” said Corso. “You can’t believe that it is happening to you.”

But it was. Since then Corso has been recovering nicely. He went through a round of physical therapy. “I graduated from that,” said Corso, who still works out every day.  ”I’m in pretty good physical shape.”

The “occupational” therapy continues. Even though his voice is now sharp and clear again, he gets speech therapy on a daily basis to fine tune the voice and work on particular patterns of speech. He also is working to strengthen the use of his right hand.

“You really have to teach yourself how to talk again,” said Corso. “The brain heals itself but it takes time. That is the most frustrating part. You know what you want to say but you have to get your brain and your mouth to say it.”

Corso was in his office in Orlando when I reached him on Thursday. His day job in the offseason is Director of Business Development for Dixon-Ticonderoga. They make those yellow No. 2 pencils that Corso keeps in his right hand during the show.

Corso has been with ESPN since 1987 and has fashioned out a great second career after 28 years as a football coach. But in many respects the old coach in him never goes away. When faced with adversity, you go to work and you set goals. When you achieve one goal, then you move on to the next one.

Corso’s ultimate goal now is a simple one. College Game Day makes its 2009 season debut on Sept. 5 for the Alabama-Virginia Tech game in Atlanta. Corso said that on Sept. 5 he will be sitting in his familiar chair between Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit. Preparing for and executing two hours of live television on a weekly basis is hard work.

But remember Corso was the guy who once, as the head coach Indiana, popped out of casket during a television appearance and said: “We’re not dead yet!” He is an eternal optimist.

“I’m not saying that I’m at 100 percent now but I’m getting better every day,” Corso said. “I’ve got a month to get ready. I know I won’t be perfect, but I’ll be ready for that show. I’m looking forward to it.”

Corso loves to come to Atlanta to visit his son, Dan, who is vice-president for marketing at the Atlanta Sports Council, and his grandchildren Nicolas and Sophia. He is especially looking forward to being here in early September.

“I am so lucky,” said Corso. “I saw so many people in rehab who had it so much tougher than me. There were so many people who wanted to help me and I can never thank them enough.”

At the same time, there is a determined tone in Lee Corso’s voice.

“After coaching I was able to find something that I love doing. And I’m going to keep doing it a while longer,” Corso said. “I’ll see everybody in Atlanta on Sept. 5.”

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85 comments Add your comment

VolsnGoBlue

August 7th, 2009
8:40 am

great read. Love corso!

Norman Bates

August 7th, 2009
8:52 am

I’m sincerely glad that he has recovered from his stroke & is doing better. But his act has gotten old and it’s time for someone else to give it a go.

Herbstreit & Blackledge are the best.

Jacket Attack

August 7th, 2009
8:52 am

Robot Roll Call!

Data

Eric

August 7th, 2009
8:52 am

Corso’s a funny guy. Glad he’s okay. War Eagle!!

Ed-Covington

August 7th, 2009
8:53 am

Wish him the best. Though we may not always agree with him, College Game Day (built by Home Depot) would not be the same without Lee Corso.

Not Disappointed

August 7th, 2009
8:56 am

Tony, glad to here he will be in the both in Atlanta. I love ESPN GameDay and his colorful commentary. My favorite is at the end of the show when he picks a team. You never know what he is going to say next. Get well soon Lee Corso!

Ramblin Wreck!

Spike

August 7th, 2009
9:01 am

Not so fast, Coach!!! Take it easy and get well soon. We are all waiting for GameDay!!

Jim morrison

August 7th, 2009
9:04 am

I wish Lee the best as well as he brings humor and fun to the pre-game.

ESPN would not be the same without him.

TommyP

August 7th, 2009
9:06 am

Been shocked about all the detractors of Corse over the years. He’s not an “expert” but he’s on there to give his opinions and they’re always full of flavor. He has more personality than most others put together.

I feel the ones that complain about Corso are the ones that now say, “I don’t watch ESPN anymore because of……” Blah, blah, blah.

Love Corso.

oldbird

August 7th, 2009
9:06 am

Glad to hear that he is doing well. Corso was the keynote speaker at the Community Bankers Association conference last year and he was fantastic. I remember one of his statements that a lot of athletes should heed: “Surround yourself with character, not characters.”

TommyP

August 7th, 2009
9:08 am

spelling check….”Corso”

Jake

August 7th, 2009
9:18 am

Thanks Tony, for covering this and letting us know about Lee. Lee has helped along with ESPN pushing up the bar for College Football. My wife even watches college football now, which is unreal.

BigMike

August 7th, 2009
9:23 am

Corso is to college FB what Dickie V is to C ollege BB. Can’t imagine gameday without him, and the infamous mascot choice. LOVE YOU LEE!!!

Buzzfan®

August 7th, 2009
9:24 am

Happy Birthday, Coach!! GameDay wouldn’t be the same without you! Best wishes for continued recovery and good health!

Bull Gator

August 7th, 2009
9:27 am

You think Corso is done? Not so fast my friend! Get well, Lee. We’ll all be looking forward to seeing you alongside Fowler and Herbstreit for another great season of College GameDay.

Tide4u2c

August 7th, 2009
9:35 am

Happy Birthday Corso,

You will have a good time watching Alabama put a whooping on Virginia Tech in Atlanta on Sept 5.

Roll Tide!

Old Dawg

August 7th, 2009
9:38 am

Coach Corso is great. I love the way he and the Game Day crew bring in the traditions of so many college football teams, communities and fans. Unless you’re a sports writer or broadcaster it’s almost impossible to visit all the college campuses around the country. But ESPN and its crew does it in a rare and exciting style.

Happy birthday coach!

Crystal Tigah

August 7th, 2009
9:42 am

Great stuff, Tony. Many thanks for the update.

Happy Birthday, Coach…..You’re sideline quips from the Orlando Breaker days were even funnier than John McKay’s stand-up routine at Tampa Bay!

jumbeauxtiger

August 7th, 2009
9:43 am

You may not agree with Corso but he brings alot of charisma to Game Day. All of those guys do a great job and there’s nothing like it on Saturdays.

Nice article Tony.

Geaux Tigers
Go SEC

aztec

August 7th, 2009
9:45 am

this is a great article on man i have enjoyed watching every saturday in fall when im not going to a game..he said he is one lucky man and that is what i would expect too hear him say, i know what he means when he said he saw so many in worse condition, i have to go to the VA every 4 months for treatment and tests and i see so many veterans in much worse condition than me…GOD SPEED LEE AND ALL MY FELLOW VETERANS AT THE VA

Spike

August 7th, 2009
9:47 am

OH, and thanks Tony, for a nice column. You da man!

ReptilesRule

August 7th, 2009
9:50 am

Ol’ Lee is a pretty good guy for a Seminole. Him putting on the mascot head on Gameday is the highlight of all the pre-game shows.

jumbeauxtiger

August 7th, 2009
9:52 am

The Coaches Poll came out today so perhaps we can get some discussion going about that:

FL
TX
OU
So Cal
Bama
Ohio St
Va Tech
Penn St
LSU
Ole Miss

other notables:
UGA-13
Ga Tech-15
FSU-19

No Big East team made the Top 25.

Geaux Tigers
Go SEC

Saint Simons

August 7th, 2009
9:55 am

just a reminder 45 -42!!!!!!!!! hahahahahahahahahahahaha

ReptilesRule

August 7th, 2009
9:59 am

BTW Tony, played hookey yesterday and watched both UF practices. Have been going to practices for quite a few years and this is the best looking group of athletes I’ve seen yet. They actually have 4 brand new TRUE freshmen OL that look physically like they could line up in the NFL. And a couple of the linebackers look like they could play DE until you see them move…rapidly. These guys mean business…

aztec

August 7th, 2009
10:07 am

hey jumb i did see the poll also, cant believe my SDSU AZTECS didnt even make the others list…..L O L

Gen Neyland

August 7th, 2009
10:07 am

Am glad he’s coming around. The severity of a stroke has a wide range of impact. Having a genetic link to strokes, I know what he and his family have endured. Strokes can have devastating lingering affects not only for the victim but the entire family as well. We need to do all we can to prevent ourselves and our loved ones from them. In my family’s case, survivors of stroke 1 followed up with stroke 2 and 3. If you believe yourself or a loved one has had a stoke, immediate medical attention is the first step to possibly a more positive recovery…Alas, sometimes our best isn’t good enough.

Mikey

August 7th, 2009
10:08 am

SS- you are such a tool. Trolling this blog about a 74 year old man that had a stroke and inserting your way-too-tired crap.
I know a lot of Tech fans and you are an embarrassment to them.
Go away you moron.

Mikey

August 7th, 2009
10:09 am

By the way, Happy B Day Coach.
Death? Not so fast my friend…..

KR

August 7th, 2009
10:13 am

Corso is the guy you love to hate and hate to love. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve yelled “Shut Up Corso” at my television. But it wouldn’t be the same without him.

Coach, best of luck for your continued recovery.

Regarding the coaches poll, I don’t really see much to argue with. I do think they’re being a little optimistic about Ole Miss, but we’ll see…

Miles

August 7th, 2009
10:14 am

A lot of fun…that’s what Corso is…Sept. 5th can’t get here soon enough!

KidRay

August 7th, 2009
10:21 am

Corso is an original; the rest are fake (yes, I’m looking at you, DEsmond Howard!)

aztec

August 7th, 2009
10:26 am

other than saint IDIOT simons this has been a great blog to read, i hate all the dawg and gt bashing that go, i cant wait till sept 3rd on espn and then my 1st live game on sept 5th at the rose bowl UCLA-SDSU, i know not a biggie, but any time im at college football game of any kind im in heaven

dawggirl

August 7th, 2009
10:29 am

I heart Lee Corso. I cannot imagine College GameDay or ESPN without him. Rest up, Lee. Looking forward to having you back in the game on September 5!

WOW - it took...

August 7th, 2009
10:29 am

…23 posts and 1 hour and 20 minutes for Saint Simons to show up! And she is the only one of 3 psoters who are off topic – as usual!

Tide Rising

August 7th, 2009
10:33 am

Not so fast my friend. I’m glad it will be our game that he will be back for. It just wouldn’t be the same without him.

jumbeauxtiger,

Interesting about the coaches poll, 2 sec teams in the top 5, 4 in the top 10, and 5 in the top 13. If Auburn and UT weren’t in transitional stages it would be scary to see how many sec teams would be in the top 10 or 15.

L-Dawg

August 7th, 2009
10:36 am

Get well Corso. Even though you are a HUGE Dawg hater, i still think you add a great character to the show. I plan on being front row September 5th with my big ol’ UGA flag.

unemployed

August 7th, 2009
10:36 am

I like Corso. When he puts on the team mascot head and waves to the crowd that is funny.

Bo in North Carolina

August 7th, 2009
11:06 am

Corso has class! Get well and will be looking forward to you on game days.

Capstone Report » Corso recovering

August 7th, 2009
11:06 am

[...] College Football reports on ESPN celebrity Lee Corso over at his AJC blog. Corso is recovering from a stroke, and seems to be doing nicely on that road to [...]

Will

August 7th, 2009
11:18 am

Love Corso…he is really good at what he does. Glad to see him back in action.
RTR

jumbeauxtiger

August 7th, 2009
11:19 am

I agree Tide Rising and it would not surprise me if Arky makes it in the top 25 early in the season. It is unusual for Aub and Tenn not to be ranked. I know this transition has to be tough for their fans. Been there and it’s no fun.

No big surprise with the poll. I see 3 tiers going in to the season. The top 4, then Bama, Ohio St and Penn St. The 3rd tier being Va Tech, LSU, Ole Miss, Okie St, UGA and GA Tech. I think at this point there is a greater separation between tiers 1 & 2 than between tiers 2 & 3. Just
my opinion and as we all know anything can happen and there will be some surprises.

Interesting that Utah is 18th after finisning last season 4th in this poll.

Geaux Tigers
Go SEC

dawgstephen

August 7th, 2009
11:24 am

Agree, Corso is pretty good. I enjoy him. I am interested to hear his picks for the season. he can usually pick champions from a season better than certain games.

http://www.dawgstephen.blogspot.com

DawginLex

August 7th, 2009
11:50 am

good to hear about Corso. Can’t help but wonder how our friend Mark May is going to treat the Dawgs this year. He has always blasted teams that didn’t have the line of scrimmage needed to compete at a high level. Our OL this year is no longer patchwork. He should have nice things to say.

The guess here is that he won’t. His UGA hatred from 1980 will never cease.

Old Dawg

August 7th, 2009
12:08 pm

Don’t worry about Saint Simons — his brain works like Ozzie Osborne talks!

hsf

August 7th, 2009
12:24 pm

Never been a Corso fan, but give him his due. i always tune in to see which macsot head he chooses.

A Fan

August 7th, 2009
12:50 pm

Corso has started a number of debates in our house. We love to watch and try to pick apart his points. I think the only major issue with GameDay is watching it while driving to the game.

Let’s hope Corso has many more years ahead of him, especially enjoying life and being their for his grandkids.

As for Mark May, sometimes I believe he is just being a foil. I bet he loves the lines at UGA this year.

Paddy

August 7th, 2009
12:55 pm

Corso fan here. Can’t wait for your return.

Polls seem about right. As long as Arkansas never makes it in, I am happy. You know , that coach still lives down there. Wish he would never win another game.

azcat225

August 7th, 2009
12:56 pm

Now that was funny, Old Dawg…

AU

August 7th, 2009
1:02 pm

Happy Birthday Lee Corso. You have the luckiest job in the world. Not only do you get to watch live football at some of the biggest games of the season, but you get to watch them with Erin Andrews. Please bring her back to the plains. WAR EAGLE!