Former head coach and current college football analyst Lee Corso (Florida State University) is the 2017 recipient of the Walter Camp Football Foundation Distinguished American award. Corso will be recognized at the Foundation’s 51st annual National Awards Dinner on Saturday, January 13, 2018 in New Haven, CT.
The Walter Camp “Distinguished American” award is presented each year to an individual who has utilized his or her talents to attain great success in business, private life or public service and who may have accomplished that which no other has done. He or she may have a record of dedication to mankind that should not pass unrecognized and a life that has been dedicated to the preservation of the American ideal. The recipient need not have participated in football but must be one who understands its lesson of self-denial, cooperation and teamwork, and one who is a person of honesty, integrity and dedication. He or she must be a leader, an innovator, even a pioneer, who has reached a degree of excellence that distinguishes him or her from contemporaries, as well as someone who lives within the principles of Walter Camp.
Past recipients of the Walter Camp Distinguished American honor include nationally-respected sportscasters Pat Summerall (2004) and Verne Lundquist (2014), all-purpose television personality Regis Philbin (2003), former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue (1994), world-renowned entertainer Bob Hope (1985), former college coach Eddie Robinson (1982), and last year’s recipient, Pro Football Hall of Famer Mike Ditka.
“Lee Corso is a college football icon,” said Walter Camp Football Foundation president Michael Madera. “For close to six decades, his name has been synonymous with the game, either as a coach, or now as one of the most recognizable faces broadcasting the game. He has devoted his time to promoting the game he loves. His work goes beyond college football, as he has demonstrated by his efforts off the field.”
A native of Miami, Fla, Corso attended the Florida State University where he was a multi-sport standout (football and baseball). Corso held the school record for interceptions in a career; a mark that stood for nearly two decades. Corso graduated from FSU in 1957 with a degree in physical education.
Following his playing career, Corso entered the coaching ranks, and served as an assistant at Maryland and U.S. Naval Academy before being named head coach at University of Louisville in 1969. He recorded a 28-11-3 record in three seasons, and led the Cardinals to their first-ever bowl berth (1970 Pasadena Bowl).
Corso then moved to Indiana University and coached 10 seasons in the Big Ten Conference. He led the Hoosiers to the Holiday Bowl in 1979 and a number-16 final national ranking. Corso also served as a head coach at Northern Illinois (1984) and for one season in the now-defunct United States Football League (Orlando Renegades).
Following his coaching career, Corso became a college football analyst for ESPN, and an original member of its Emmy Award-winning Saturday College GameDay program. His catchphrase, ‘Not so fast, my friend!” has been a staple of the show, as is his donning of the school’s mascot headgear he thinks will win the game at the GameDay site each week.
Corso serves as Director of Business Development for Dixon Ticonderoga, a Florida-based manufacturer of writing and arts products, including its renowned No. 2 pencils (one of which he can always be seen holding on College GameDay).
He also serves as honorary chairman of Coaches Curing Kids’ Cancer, a charity that raises money for pediatric cancer research through youth sports teams. In 2010, he was presented the National College Football Awards Association “Contributions to College Football Award,” recognizing exceptional contributions to college football and a lifetime of achievement and integrity.
A current Florida resident, Corso and his wife, Betsy have four children and ten grandchildren.
Walter Camp, “The Father of American football,” first selected an All-America team in 1889. Camp – a former Yale University athlete and football coach – is also credited with developing play from scrimmage, set plays, the numerical assessment of goals and tries and the restriction of play to eleven men per side. The Walter Camp Football Foundation – a New Haven-based all-volunteer group – was founded in 1967. The organization’s mission is to perpetuate the ideals of Camp and to continue the tradition of selecting annually an All-America team and honoring deserving individuals.
Distinguished American recipients
2017 – Lee Corso, Florida State University
2016 – Mike Ditka, University of Pittsburgh
2015 – Tim Shriver, Yale University/Special Olympics
2014 – Verne Lundquist, Texas Lutheran
2013 – Joe Theismann, Notre Dame
2012 – Tom Osborne, Hastings College/University of Nebraska
2011 – Floyd Little, Syracuse University
2010 – Chuck Bednarik, Pennsylvania
2009 – Robin Roberts, Southeastern Louisiana
2008 – Len Dawson, Purdue
2007 – Frank Broyles, Georgia Tech
2006 – Dick Vermeil, San Jose State
2005 – Arthur Blank, Babson
2004 – Pat Summerall, Arkansas
2003 – Bill Walsh, San Jose State
2002 – Regis Philbin, Notre Dame
2001 – New York City Police, Fire, and Emergency Medical Service Personnel
2000 – Gene Upshaw, Texas A&I
1999 – Bo Schembechler, Miami (Ohio)
1998 – Steve Young, Brigham Young
1997 – Steve Largent, Tulsa
1996 – Dick Ebersol, Yale
1995 – Keith Jackson, Washington State
1994 – Paul Tagliabue, Georgetown
1993 – Rev. Theodore Hesburgh, C.S.C.
1992 – Carm Cozza, Miami (Ohio)/Yale
1991 – Alexander Kroll, Rutgers
1990 – Tex Schramm, Texas
1989 – Richard Kazmaier, Princeton
1989 – Burt Reynolds, Florida State
1988 – Y.A. Tittle, Louisiana State
1987 – Weeb Ewbank, Miami (Ohio)
1986 – Tom Landry, Texas
1985 – Bob Hope
1984 – Maj. Gen. Bill Carpenter, Army
1983 – Tom Harmon, Michigan
1982 – Eddie Robinson, Grambling State
1981 – Harold “Red” Grange, Illinois
1980 – Alexander Haig, Army
1980 – George Halas, Illinois
1979 – David “Sonny” Werblin, Rutgers
1978 – James Crowley, Notre Dame