Army vs. Navy Game: Lee Corso Tells Story Behind Winning Legendary Navy Robe on a Bet

by Matthew Memrick

Good ol’ Lee Corso, a former Navy coach, wore a gray robe to the ESPN College Gameday set on Saturday before the Army-Navy game.

The 86-year-old man was the defensive backs coach from 1966 to 1968 at Navy. 

“54 years ago, as a Navy coach, I won a bet with the Army coach for a robe,” Corso said. 

The former coach said that the Navy won 19-14 at John F. Kennedy Stadium in Philadelphia. Bill Elias was the Navy head coach that year, and the team went 5–4–1.

“I love wearing it every year,” Corso said before screaming, “Go Navy, beat Army.”

College analyst Kirk Herbstreit added, “26 years ago, the first time I sat on this desk, and he pulled this robe out, I was like, he said up, and I was like, ‘permission to come aboard, sir.'”

This year’s Midshipmen team was 3-8 before the classic game, while Army had an 8-3 record.

Lee Corso Had A Long Coaching Record

He went on to work 17 seasons as a head coach (73–85–6) at Louisville, Indiana, and Northern Illinois. Since 1987, he’s worked as an ESPN college football analyst. The man coached the United States Football League team Orlando Renegades to a 5-13 record with one year in the pros. 

The former Florida State quarterback/cornerback landed a job with the sports network in 1987. In the early years of College GameDay, the crew reported from ESPN Studios in Bristol, Conn. In 1993, producers decided to broadcast live from the Notre Dame-Florida State game in South Bend, Ind.

Corso told the Baltimore Sun that the live taping became quite the event. He said that the pregame show was a “circus” and “fans were going crazy all around us.” 

Needless to say, the show’s popularity grew and has become a must-see event for fans throughout the college football season.

Former Coach Happy With Navy Time

Corso told Baltimore Sun that he loved his time at Navy.

“I absolutely loved working with the players at Navy,” the ESPN commentator said in 2014. “There are no better young men to coach than those you find at a service academy. I really enjoyed going to work every day because I loved being around those midshipmen.”

He talked about the robe again during the interview and said he was “anxiously looking forward to wearing it” on set. 

In 2019, he put on his robe during the College Gameday broadcast and talked more about the robe. This time, he gave a little more backstory to the robe, saying he misplaced it at one point.

So the Naval Academy sent this one to me (as a replacement),” Corso said. “I’m proud and honored to wear this one.”