“Not so fast, my friend,” Lee Corso probably wanted to say when I asked for his predictions for the upcoming college football season.
It is, after all, still February, six months before the start of the season and much too early for him to wear any of his mascot headgear to the Loews Hotel in downtown New Orleans on Saturday night.
Corso, the former college coach turned TV analyst, was in town being honored at the Touchdown Club of New Orleans banquet for his contributions to the college game. He is heading into his 28th season with ESPN as one of the most entertaining personalities in the sport.
But he isn’t tipping his hand yet on whether he’ll be predicting LSU to win the national championship, like he predicted before last year.
“I can’t tell you, he said. “It’s a secret.”
But what he didn’t keep secret were his concerns about LSU at quarterback.
“That will be the key for them,” Corso said. “They have everything else.”
That includes Leonard Fournette, whom Corso predicted would win the Heisman Trophy this season.
“I was looking good after six or seven games, but then he had a letdown against Alabama,” Corso said. “But he is a great football player.”
So if it seems that Corso has a lot of love for LSU, it’s because he does. LSU offensive coordinator Cam Cameron was Corso’s quarterback when Corso coached at Indiana.
“So I have a close connection to them, and I root for them all the time,” Corso said.
He especially roots for Cameron. He knew Cameron wanted to someday become a coach. So the day Cameron approached him and told him he had a chance to also play basketball at Indiana, Corso encouraged him to go for it.
“I told him to do it because he would learn more about coaching from Bobby Knight than anybody,” Corso said. “So he played both sports. Most people don’t know that.”
Corso was one of five people honored by the Touchdown Club of New Orleans.
Joe Browne, senior adviser to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, was the Pete Rozelle Award recipient for his contributions to the NFL. Browne has worked for the NFL since 1965 and is the longest-serving employee in the league’s front office. He has been with the NFL longer than the Saints have, still remembering the day the franchise was announced.
He has attended 49 of the 50 Super Bowls, missing just the first one. Browne ranks Super Bowl XLIV as one of his most memorable ones.
“I was here a couple weeks after Katrina hit, and the big question was whether the team was going to survive,” Browne said. “So that day was special.”
Saturday was special, too, for Browne, getting the award named after the guy whom he first worked for back in 1965.
It was special for the other recipients as well.
Riverside football coach Bill Stubbs, who led his team to the Division III select championship game in December, was the prep award recipient.
Judge Thomas Wicker was presented the Board of Directors Award and Juan Kincaid, sports director at Fox 8 Sports, received the Bob Roesler Media Award for his work as a broadcaster.
None of the recipients seemed more thrilled than Corso.
“It’s great to be honored, especially since it’s the twilight of my career,” he said.
Corso will turn 81 right before the college football season kicks off this fall. He says he plans to stay in the business for as long as he can.
“It’s like stealing,” Corso said about his job. “I fly first-class to the game. I see the best game of the week. I eat first-class food. I fly back first-class. And they pay me.
“You can’t beat that.”