- Lynn Burkhead
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For Lee Corso, the knowledgeable, energetic, and highly entertaining college football analyst on the "ESPN College GameDay" show, life is really a simple affair: family, football, and fishing.
In that order, mind you.
Corso whose family includes his wife of 48 years, four children, and six grandchildren will be featured as a guest on the coast-to-coast airing of the "The Outdoors Show on ESPN Radio" this Saturday morning, May 7 at 6 a.m. ET.
If his family comes first, then it should be little surprise to those who know the Orlando, Fla. resident that football certainly comes second.
That is evidenced by his playing days at Florida State University where Corso roomed with actor Burt Reynolds en route to four varsity letters in both football and baseball and a spot in the FSU Hall of Fame.
But Corso's passion for the gridiron certainly didn't end upon his graduation from the land of the Seminoles, either.
Hardly he went on to a successful 28-year coaching career that included college head coaching stints at Louisville, Indiana, and Northern Illinois in addition to a one-year stop in the pros with the Orlando Renegades of the USFL.
Today, some 18 years after Corso joined ESPN as a football analyst, his passion for the pigskin remains unabated.
Fans of GameDay know that well, eagerly anticipating each week the tell-tale moment when Corso makes his pick of the day by donning the mascot headgear of the school that he has chosen.
Depending on where the GameDay set is located, such a moment can bring loud and raucous cheers from the hometown faithful or it can bring a loud barrage of boos.
Sometimes, it can even bring something more dramatic and powerful.
As reported on the GameDay Web site, Corso found that out a few years ago while doing a show in Blacksburg, Va. prior to a heated contest between the visiting Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets and the hometown Virginia Tech Hokies.
Shortly after Corso made his pick known for the road team Georgia Tech, a lightning bolt struck and damaged his rental car sitting in a sea of nearly 25,000 other vehicles.
Which led, of course, to one of Corso's classic on-air comebacks: "I don't know what a Hokie is, but God is one of them. Go Virginia Tech."
Another GameDay staple is Corso's trademark line of "Not so fast, my friend."
"That got started with Craig James," Corso said. "We'd have a little fun together and every once and a while he'd say something a little funny, a dig, and I'd say 'Not so fast, my friend.'"
"It's kind of taken a life of its own."
Today, the line lives on each and every autumn Saturday as Corso, fellow analyst Kirk Herbstreit, and host Chris Fowler trade gridiron information and good-natured barbs on the GameDay set.
One place that Corso's famous "Not so fast, my friend" line lives on is when the college football guru is in the back of a boat trading angling tales.
"Does it apply to fishing?" Corso said. "Yes sir, someone can say 'I caught this kind of fish and you'll say 'Not so fast, my friend, I caught one bigger than that.' Everyone has a fishing story bigger than the other guys."
Corso who tries to fish for largemouth bass at least four days a week on a small lake dubbed "Lake Corso" behind his Florida home certainly has a big fish story or two to tell.
First introduced to the sport by his pal Ed Fasula, Corso wasted little time in gaining fodder for his fishing stories.
On only his second day of fishing ever, Corso got off to a prodigious start when he sailed a black-and-gold spinnerbait into a small Florida lake and promptly landed the fish of a lifetime – a 12-pound largemouth bass!
"As soon as it hit the water, the fish took it," Corso said. "I don't know I must have hit him in the head and woke him up."
"I just thought you could catch them like that all of the time," he chuckled.
While Corso has certainly learned over time that such big bass aren't caught each and every day, that's not to say that he hasn't had his fair share of fisherman's luck since then, either.
Today, hanging on the wall next to the mount of his 12-pound bass are the mounts of two other fish exceeding 10-pounds, a trio of bucketmouths that gives Corso some serious ammunition for angling bragging rights.
What is the college football analyst's favorite lure to fish with?
Well, while he's fished with everything from an old "Moss Boss" to big spinnerbaits with a little bit of everything else sandwiched in between, these days, Corso's tackle box contains plenty of soft plastic baits.
"I love fishing with a plastic worm," Corso said. "Sometimes I'll use a gray worm, but it kind of depends on the weather. If the weather is dark, I use a chartreuse one."
"My favorite right now is a tube bait called a 'Blue Slug.' It's blue on top and powder blue on the bottom. When I hook it up, I don't use any weight on it."
"That's my favorite because I catch them like crazy on that now."
Today, a few months away from the start of another college football season, Corso's schedule is full thanks to his family commitments, personal fishing time, and motivational speaking engagements.
And that's to say nothing of his day-to-day work as director of business development for Dixon Ticonderoga, a Florida company best known for its famed #2 lead school pencil.
But busy schedule or not, Corso's mind is never far from the gridiron.
Already, he's thinking ahead to what should prove to be another thrilling college football season as the USC Trojans defend their national title.
What are Corso's thoughts on the upcoming college pigskin season?
"Watch ESPN College GameDay beginning in September and I'll tell you," Corso laughed.
"Not so fast my friend, you're not getting anything out of me now."
Ok, then, how about a bass fishing tip?
Corso, who once fished in a CITGO Bassmaster event with two-time Angler of the Year and 1999 Classic champ Davy Hite, was quick to respond in humorous style.
"Patience," Corso quipped.
"Not so fast, my friend the bass I go after, they're not in a hurry."