It was Saturday in Houston for ESPN's College Game Day. Lee Corso, the 76-year-old former Coach and the show's comic relief, was doing his thing. One of the show's highlights is when Corso, with hundreds or thousands of students behind him, dons the head of the team he predicts will win. As a setup this Saturday, Corso tried to use an SMU megaphone, as if he's supporting that team, but dropped it as he said, on air, "Aw, F*** it" Corso quickly put on Houston's mascot head-gear.
Guest Olympian Carl Lewis cracks up. Program co-hosts laugh while fooling with the mascot head and threatening to wash his mouth out with soap. The crowd roars and the program is over.
Quick quiz on Crisis Communications: How would you handle this? What should Corso do and say to put it to a close and move on?
Corso and ESPN so far have made the right moves. ESPN quickly taped a very brief spot of Corso apologizing and saying he won't do it again.
In addition, in a follow-up interview with USA Today, Corso used a couple of techniques from media training: put this in perspective and joke about it, if appropriate.
"It was my first time in 25 years at ESPN," Corso said. "I make one mistake every 25 years. Next time, I'll be 101."
Corso also humanized himself by taking it seriously and by being contrite and expressing honest embarrassment. USA Today notes: But Corso, who later apologized on-air and called his ESPN bosses to say he was sorry, says it's no joke to him: "It was live TV, and I got excited and said something I shouldn't have. I was really embarrassed."
Lee Corso doesn't need sports media training. He's done the right thing and scored on a reputation recovery. Well done.