The Old Man and the Elephant Head

When Lee Corso puts on a silly headgear, it is the college football equivalent of "Gentlemen, start your engines" at the Indy 500. South Carolina-Vanderbilt (Aug. 30) and Tennessee-NC State (Aug 31) notwithstanding, the official kickoff for me will occur when Corso inevitably dons the elephant head making Alabama the first pick of ESPN GameDay's 26th season. Corso and crew will be in Arlington for the Alabama-Michigan game two weeks from today.

Buffoonery? Cheesey? Most certainly. But I am a big Corso fan for reasons that pre-date ESPN GameDay. Before sharing those reasons, here are what ESPN labeled as "Fun Facts" about Lee Corso prior to the 2011 season:

  • Corso has donned 193 headgears all time, with a record of 131-62 (67.9 percent)
  • Corso's picked Florida the most times (17), followed by Ohio State and USC (15 times each) and Alabama, Oklahoma and Florida State (12 times each).
  • With teams he's picked three times or more, there are three undefeated teams: USC (15-0), Virginia Tech (4-0) and TCU (3-0).

It was Corso's sense of humor as a coach that initially got me on his bandwagon.

I first became aware of Corso in the late 60s when he was an up and coming coach at Louisville. In 1969 a few weeks before Big Shootout I between Texas and Arkansas, Memphis State was 7-2 and hoping to attract a bowl invitation. Memphis State coach Spook Murphy figured the best way was to run up a score on its season-ending opponent Louisville. Late in the 69-19 blowout, Corso was playing subs while Murphy kept his regulars in the game. That's when Corso made headlines by walking out on the field and waving a white towel in surrender at Murphy.

It should be noted that Corso and Murphy went head-to-head three more times and Louisville won each game.

Corso also was quoted in Sports Illustrated a few years later after he had moved to Purdue. An anonymous fan had sent a holiday fruit cake to the coaching offices. When Corso was offered a piece, he turned it down saying, "When you go 2-9, you don't eat any unsigned fruit cake."

So even if Corso has lost his edge, even if he never picked Texas again, it doesn't bother me a bit. Nor does Big and Rich coming to my cit-tay or Mark May losing another narrow decision to Lou Holtz. The whole ensemble means college football is here. Under those circumstances, I can pretty much tolerate anything except people who schedule weddings, childbirth, or other mandatory attendance activities on football weekends.

Some other notes (remember, these are a year old) from the ESPN GameDay Fun Facts:

  • Texas is 5-1 when hosting GameDay as is Miami, Nebraska and Oklahoma. A shade better is USC at 6-1.
  • "GameDay" has been to Ohio State 13 times, the most of any campus; Florida is second with 11 appearances. It has been to a game involving Florida 32 times; Ohio State is second with 29.
  • "College GameDay" has been to eight Florida versus Florida State matchups, the most of any rivalry. But it's only been there once since 2004 -- for Tim Tebow's final home game in 2009. Ohio State versus Penn State is catching up, as "GameDay" has been to seven such matchups, including in five of the past six years.
  • " GameDay" has been to 44 matchups more than once. Some of the ones you may not have thought of include TCU versus Utah, Georgia Tech versus Virginia Tech, Boston College versus Florida State and Purdue versus Wisconsin.
  • "GameDay" has been to an SEC home game 57 times, 17 more than the next closest conference, the Big Ten.
  • Georgia and Georgia Tech are a combined 0-4 when hosting "GameDay" (each are 0-2). The two schools are a combined 3-12 when involved in a "GameDay" game (Georgia Tech is 0-4).
  • Alabama has lost six home games when "GameDay" has been there. That's the most of any host school.
  • Syracuse has been involved in two "College GameDay" games, at Virginia Tech and at Miami. The Orange have been outscored 121-0 in those two games (62-0 and 59-0).

Let the games begin.

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