In May of last year, ESPN personality Lee Corso, without warning, encountered a fierce opponent that threatened to rob him of his famed loquaciousness.
Sitting on the front porch of his Florida home, Corso suddenly experienced a stroke that was caused by a blockage to a small artery.
The stroke was considered minor, and after months of recovery, Corso fulfilled his promise that he would not be deterred in assuming his responsibilities as ESPN’s most colorful college football analyst. So, there he was, providing television viewers with his insightful — and sometimes wacky — commentary the morning of the Alabama-Virginia Tech game on Sept. 5.
Corso was right; he didn’t miss a game. But for those who have long been viewers of ESPN’s wildly popular College Gameday, you could tell that perhaps all was not right with the show's well-known middle-man, the balancing force between the stateliness of host Chris Fowler and the youthful sophistication of co-analyst Kirk Herbstreit.
As the 2009 college football season wore on, the lingering effects of Corso’s stroke became more and more apparent. He stumbled over words, relied often on sentence fragments, and seemed much too out-of-sync with the rest of the broadcast team for nothing to be wrong.
In my opinion, ESPN is now at a crossroads in terms of keeping or releasing Corso. He’s been a fixture at the Worldwide Leader since 1987, and fans have loved him every step of the way.
The network has been wise in monitoring Corso’s workload since his stroke, but, ultimately, the best move may be to allow the 74-year-old former college football head coach to ride off into the sunset, free to spend his time as a husband, father, and shrewd business man (Corso’s the director of business development at Dixon Ticonderoga, a manufacturer of No. 2 pencils).
But assume for a second that Corso, who strikes me as a man who would be willing to cover college football until the day he died, would go quietly. Who then would attempt to fill his shoes? Or mascot head?
Here’s list of candidates.
Source: ESPN and Orlando Sentinel