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ESPN's Chris Fowler explains what happened when Lee Corso said 'F--K IT" on 'College GameDay'

By Jimmy Traina
August 21, 2019

ESPN's Chris Fowler takes centerstage in the sports world over the next few weeks. He'll be calling all the U.S. Open tennis action, which beings on Aug. 26, and before that, he'll be joined by his longtime partner, Kirk Herbstreit, for the first college football game of the 2019 season -- Miami at Florida, this Saturday night.

Fowler joined Jimmy Traina on the latest SI Media Podcast to talk about both his tennis and college football gigs. He also reminisced about being part of the iconic College GameDay for 14 years. As part of that conversation, Fowler recalled the 2011 episode that took place at the University of Houston in which a frustrated Lee Corso said a very, very naughty word on live TV.

Listen to Chris Fowler on the SI Media podcast here and subscribe to the podcast on iTunesSpotify or Google Play.​​​​ The following transcript has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Jimmy Traina: There is no way I was going to interview Chris Fowler and not end it with this question. On GameDay, 2011, Lee Corso drops an F-bomb. Everybody loves Lee Corso. The way he did it was not overt or "Oh, I'm gonna drop the F bomb to get attention." It was so subtle, but effective. Kirk Herbstreit goes flying back in his chair. He can't believe what he just heard. You just put your head on the desk. If you can just relive that for me and the listeners. 

Chris Fowler: And Carl Lewis was going crazy and applauding because he was there as the guest picker at Houston. I'll shorten the story. Basically, Corso had this whole orchestrated way of doing the pick where he was gonna talk up SMU and pick Houston. He now does that all the time, but it was kind of a new idea for him at that point. And so he was gonna say how all-American SMU is, red, white and blue, how can you pick against these people, and of course he's gonna go Houston, who was the home favorite and the obvious pick.

We're not scripted and we don't have rehearsals. So the director didn't know exactly what was going on. Corso was trying to say one thing and the pictures are showing another. He kinda looks up and I think he realized this is not unfolding and he just said "F it" and he threw the SMU thing down and put on the Houston Cougar.

It was anything but planned. It was this thought bubble that came out of his mouth and everyone heard it and it was one of those YouTube moments and he had to make one of those apologies on air which was so sheepish and inauthentic that they made him do it again. It was a funny moment. Every time I go to Houston for any kind of event people being it up because that was the scene of the crime.

I love Lee Corso. I learned so much from him. It was such a pleasure to be around him and his authentic passion for the game, for TV. Just a gifted natural showman. I keep saying "authentic" because I think that's what's most important for me in TV, from anybody, and Lee was wholly authentic and that was a raw, authentic moment. It should be never repeated but it was a blast to be a part of. I gotta be honest.

Be sure to catch up on past editions of Traina Thoughts and check out the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast hosted by Jimmy Traina on iTunes, Spotify or Google Play. You can also follow Jimmy on Twitter and Instagram.

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