By Jordan Rabinowitz
Lost Lettermen

Here's what we do know about Lee Corso: He's the genial, sagely figure of college football, whose word on who will win the marquee game of each Saturday on College GameDay has been gold for over two decades. We also know that once upon a time, Corso was a pretty good college football player and coach.

More Lost Lettermen: NFL's 50 Biggest Draft Busts Ever: Where Are They Now?

But there’s a lot today’s viewing audience doesn't know about Corso and the intriguing life he's led so far. Let's go underneath the mascot head and reveal five things you didn’t know about America's favorite picker.

At 7 years old, Julia Ladd understands the basics of football. When she goes to Mississippi State football games with her family, she knows that there's a score people are following, and that one team wins while another loses.

She also understands that fans feel a sense of community when attending games and cheering side-by-side. In fact, she may understand that relationship far better than most adults.

Ladd enjoys following the cues of the Bulldogs fans around her. But when she saw a single Auburn fan standing in a sea of crimson and cowbell, she felt sad for the fan.

So she did the only thing in her power. She shouted, "Go Auburn!"

The moment horrified her parents, who quickly corrected her. But then they asked why she had said what she said. Ladd pointed out the solo Auburn fan in front of them.

"That man is all alone," Ladd said, according to the The Clarion-Ledger "It makes me sad."

Ladd's parents were touched that her daughter was so aware of the Auburn fan, and they brought her down to meet the man. Despite wearing Tigers garb, the two united for a touching moment:


Fans from both the Auburn and Mississippi State sides have come out to commend Ladd for her display of sportsmanship, and for reminding football fans to keep intense rivalries in perspective.

The man who invented the famous Hook'em Horns hand sign at University of Texas, has died. Harley Clark, who was head cheerleader at Texas in 1955 when he introduced the sign at a pep rally, was 78.

The university said Clark, who became a state judge, passed Thursday on his farm outside Austin.

Clark and his friend Henry Pitts devised the hand sign together. They concluded that extending the index and little fingers gave the look of a longhorn. At the pep rally the night before Texas hosted TCU in football, Clark declared: "This is the official hand sign of the University of Texas, to be used whenever and wherever Longhorns gather."

At the time, one university official was angry with Clark, because the hand sign is considered vulgarity in Sicily. Unaware of this, Clark responded by telling the official it was a good thing the school mascot was a longhorn rather than a unicorn.

Last year, ThePostGame was fortunate enough to spend a day at Clark's home where he talked about the hand sign and his memories from the University of Texas. Here's Harley Clark, in his own words:

As a judge, Clark, who had been battling cancer, is known for his 1987 ruling that Texas' school finance system at the time was unconstitutional and inequitable at the expense of poor districts.

You Mississippi State fans must be delirious after your blowout upset of Texas A&M that propelled you to No. 3 in Associated Press Top 25 rankings.

No one's telling you to stifle your joy. But if you don't put a leash on that cowbell, you will face the consequences.

So says Scott Stricklin, the athletic director for the Bulldogs. While he too was thrilled at Mississippi State's fast start, Stricklin lashed out at fans who rattle their cowbells while plays unfold on the field.

This breach of conduct violates the "Cowbell Compromise" of 2010, which is a real piece of SEC legislation that allows for the controlled use of such noisemakers.

Those rules stipulate that noisemakers can't be used to disrupt the game, and Stricklin contends that's exactly what fans were doing.

"This totally perplexes me. Dak Prescott doesn’t need fans ringing when they shouldn’t to make a dazzling play for our State. Bernardrick McKinney doesn’t need fans ringing when they shouldn’t in order to deliver a crushing tackle," Stricklin wrote in a letter to fans.

Unfortunately for Stricklin, the integrity of the Cowbell Compromise will be tested even further this weekend, when Mississippi State hosts No. 2 Auburn in the college football season's biggest game yet.

Fans will be running a high fever, one that may require a prescription. And, unfortunately for Stricklin, there may be only one prescription that does the job.

So if the Bulldogs student section more closely resembles a horde of drunken, desheveled Will Ferrell look-alikes slapping their cowbells like there's no tomorrow, well, it's okay to be upset.

But don't act like you didn't see this coming all along.

As an inaugural member of the 13-person College Football Playoff committee, Condoleezza Rice has had to change her typical schedule and cut overseas travel.

That time now has to be spent watching football, evaluating a list of 40 FBS teams, and trying to figure out which traits matter the most.

In an interview with ESPN, Rice emphasized that wins and losses matter -- presumably meaning that an undefeated team from outside the Big 6 conferences could have a shot at the four-team playoff.

But strength of schedule will still be very important. The trick, Rice said, is comparing conferences and the strength of those teams when there aren't a ton of head-to-head matchups to use.

And while Rice thinks that conference championships are very important, she refuted the notion that there's pressure to place only conference champs among the top four teams.

To prep for that big decision, Rice said she's watching 14 to 15 games per week, usually on Saturdays and Sundays. She hasn't started writing her own Top 25 ranking of teams, but she is aware of where teams stand in the AP and coaches' polls.

It does sound, however, like Rice is relishing the subjective nature of selecting playoff teams. The former Secretary of State doesn't anticipate it being a clear-cut decision "and I'm glad. That's where human judgment comes in."

Unfortunately for many observers, that human judgement -- and its propensity for errors -- is the primary reason for concern regarding the new playoff system. Expanding from two to four championship-eligible teams, plus moving the decision from a complex algorithm into the hands of 13 highly intelligent people, has done many things: Increase conversation and speculation, build intrigue, and stoke excitement for what's to come.

Unfortunately, one teeny, tiny problem remains: It's still an imperfect system. But maybe, as with March Madness, it's an imperfection we'll learn to love.

See Slideshow >>

Thanks to its apparel deal with Under Armour, Northwestern will be wearing special Gothic-themed uniforms for the Homecoming game against Nebraska in two weeks.

Perhaps the most striking feature is the representation of the Arch, located at the campus entrance, on the back of the helmet. The intent of the uniform design is to include various features on campus. For example, the font on the jersey is the same one used for signs on campus.

According to the school, the "black-purple-gold color scheme is a nod to the school's colors of 'purple and old gold' before the University adopted purple as its only official color." Northwestern also used a heavy dose of black on its football uniforms under coach Gary Barnett in the 90s when it won back-to-back Big Ten championships and went to the Rose Bowl.

Here's a look at the Gothic stylings from various angles:

See Slideshow >>

An auction house will be taking bids on the helmet worn by Chris Davis when he returned a missed field goal 109 yards for a game-winning touchdown against then-undefeated Alabama in last year's Iron Bowl.

The helmet features a signature from Davis, formerly a cornerback and kick returner now with the San Diego Chargers. The words "Game Used Iron Bowl 2013" is also inscribed on the helmet's exterior.

It is believed that Davis wore the helmet for the majority of the 2013 football season.

According to Goldin Auctions, the helmet was acquired from a family friend of Davis, and bidding for the item will start at $5,000. The auction house believes, however, the the price will reach at least $25,000 before it is sold.

In addition to the helmet's history, another factor that will drive up the price is that game-worn helmets are rarely made available for auction. This gives them a much higher market value than, say, game-worn jerseys.

Earlier this year, an Ohio State helmet worn by Archie Griffin was sold for $28,680 at auction. Depending on who takes an interest in Davis' helmet, that price could be matched or surpassed.

Bidding on the helmet will be open until Nov. 1.

Actress Melissa Joan Hart is best known for starring in Clarissa Explains It All and Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, but she is starting to gain attention as a superfan of Alabama football.

Hart is a New Yorker, but she married an Alabama native and quickly got into the spirit of Roll Tide. She has become such an enthusiast that she has started following Alabama recruits on Twitter.

AL.com sportswriter John Talty writes:

She follows at least 10 Alabama recruits on Twitter, plus many former and current Alabama football players and coaches.

It should also be noted she recently began following esteemed AL.com staffers Matt Scalici, Andrew Gribble and yours truly.


Here is a clip from the SEC Network's The Stars Are Aligned documentary in which Hart explains how she became a fan:

This week, the Michigan football program suffered a national embarrassment when a Michigan Daily reporter tweeted Coca-Cola's offer of two free tickets to this weekend's game to anyone who bought two bottles of pop.

How did this once-proud program sink so low, so fast?

Amazingly, almost all Michigan's wounds have been self-inflicted.

***

Michigan can boast the most wins in college football and the longest streak of 100,000-plus crowds, running 251 games, all the way back to 1975.

The attendance streak has survived a few wars, a few recessions, and a few disappointing years -- not to mention blazing heat, freezing rain and blinding snowstorms. But when the Wolverines went 6-6 in 1984, 8-4 from 1993 through 1996, 7-5 in 2005, and most notably, 3-9, 5-7 and 7-6 during Rich Rodriguez's tenure (2008-10), with the economy at its lowest point since the Great Depression, Michigan's resilient fans still bought up all the season tickets months in advance. Thousands more added their names to the robust waiting list.

In other words, it's not the economy, stupid -- or the wins or the weather. Michigan fans will tell you it's the historically high ticket prices, a historically bad home schedule, and a historically tone deaf athletic department.

***

After athletic director Bill Martin announced in 2009 that he'd be stepping down the next year, Michigan had some enviable choices to replace him: Three successful Division I athletic directors who had all either coached or played at Michigan. But there was a fourth, less conventional candidate, who had the inside track.

Dave Brandon had spent a decade running Domino's Pizza, overseeing 9,000 stores in 60 countries with 145,000 employees. His job required pleasing millions of customers, thousands of stockholders, and dozens of board members, executives and Wall Street analysts every day.

If there was one thing Brandon could handle, it seemed, it was public relations. And if there was one thing Michigan and its beleaguered coach, Rich Rodriguez, needed, that was it. Brandon, a famously hard worker who returns emails in the middle of the night, immediately impressed everyone, including me, with his performance in high-pressure press conferences about Michigan football's NCAA investigation -- yes, the one that took 14 months to determine that the Wolverines accidentally spent 15 minutes more on stretching each week than the NCAA allowed.

When Brandon hired the unassuming Brady Hoke to lead the football team, many Michigan fans howled. But the lovable Hoke won them over at his first press conference, then won eleven games in his first season. The honeymoon was glorious.

Sure, some fans weren't too happy about the new uniforms the team occasionally wore, or the rock music that often replaced the marching band, but those were minor quibbles.

If the Michigan athletic department had issued a 2012 annual report to its shareholders, it would have been the shiniest publication in college sports, packed with enough good news, on and off the field, to make the competition envious. By those measures, its creator could be considered an all-American athletic director.

***

But after Hoke finished 8-5 in 2012, and 7-6 last year, the wait list disappeared, the season tickets didn't sell out, and the students cut their ticket orders this year alone by a solid third -- and with it, the Big House lost the engine that keeps the entire stadium humming, not to mention the fans who are supposed to keep the tradition alive for the next generation.

It's worth remembering Hoke's worst record matches Rodriguez's best mark in Ann Arbor, back in 2010, when the economy bottomed out -- but the wait list was still long. When I asked Michigan friends on Facebook why they dropped their tickets, they mentioned the prices -- which have increased an average of $100 per seat in the past four years -- the weak schedule, the untraditional "Super Bowl" atmosphere (Laura Ambrook Redmond told me, "Best game we attended in recent years was against Nebraska, when the scoreboard sound went out and we all just listened to the band and could actually talk to the people we sit by"), and their increasingly dim view of the department, usually in that order.

The department has resorted to desperate measures to keep the streak going, selling deeply discounted tickets on Groupon, Livingsocial and Amazon, and dumping thousands of free tickets on local schools, churches, camps, the ushers, Michigan golf club members and the student-athletes -- and yes, through Coca-Cola giveaways -- urging them all to come to the games. It's good that people who couldn't afford to pay full price, especially kids, are visiting the Big House for the first time -- but that's not why the department is doing it.

So far, the department has been blessed with gorgeous weather for all three home tailgates, and has managed to draw enough fans each game to claim with a straight face that the attendance streak is still going. Sure, they're covering the foundation's cracks with wallpaper -- but that's load-bearing wallpaper. It's best not to pull on it.

Season-ticket holders have skin in the game, lots of it, and they show up rain or shine. But anyone receiving a free ticket is, truly, a fair weather fan. The department is just one cold, rainy day from having to admit, once and for all, that the hallowed streak is over.

It hasn't helped that the Wolverines have lost both their games against Power 5 opponents, and eight of their last 12 games. No fans are more passionate than college football fans -- or more myopic. If their school wins a few games, they believe they'll never lose again. And if they lose a couple, the situation is hopeless. But a win this weekend might be enough to get Hoke's team on a roll, giving people good reason to hope for more in 2015, and justify keeping him.

But even if the Wolverines win Saturday as expected against Minnesota, and enough fans show up to allow the department to claim the streak is alive, something is different this time around. I've often joked that many Michigan fans aren't happy unless they're not happy -- and they've had plenty of reasons to be unhappy this year. But now many are upset that they're not that upset. They are alarmed by their lack of alarm.

They are afflicted by something I have never seen before: Indifference.

***

The department's problems don't stop there.

It has committed gaffe after gaffe -- from skywriting to seat cushions to giant noodles to Coca-Cola giveways -- followed by absurd explanations that always place the blame somewhere else. "Inaccuracies were driven by social media," they once said, when the social medium in question was actually their own website. The department now has all the credibility of Pravda, and half the charm.

But that's not the department's biggest problem. When they discount and dump thousands of tickets, do they expect their season ticket holders not to notice? When you paid a few thousand bucks for your four tickets, and the guy sitting next to you got in for a couple of Cokes, do the department's leaders really think you will pony up for the same sky-high prices next year?

As longtime fan Peggy Collins Totin told me, "I feel betrayed for being loyal."

Michigan has somehow created a world where loyalty is punished with price hikes, and disloyalty is rewarded with freebies.

Michigan fans may be irrational about their love for the Wolverines, but they're not stupid about their money. Their Saturday habit developed over a lifetime, but they can break it in a week.

I hear constantly from fans of other programs that their team is heading in the same direction. The question is, will other schools learn from Michigan's mistakes in time to avoid Michigan's troubles?

Next year, either Michigan's ticket prices will come down, or the fans won't come. Either way, the department's burgeoning budget -- which jumped from roughly $100 million to $150 million in four years, including a 72-percent jump in administrative salaries -- will have to be cut back, or Michigan athletics will be heading into debt.

But what stands out is how easy all these problems were to predict, and how easy they would have been to avoid. When faced with a decision, the current regime favors style over substance -- the exact opposite approach that made Michigan football great.

Early in his tenure, Dave Brandon said, "I don't talk about the past. I create the future."

It's hard to believe this was the future he had in mind.

LSU freshmen got a little help moving into dorms this week from none other than the players on the nation's 13th ranked football team.

Les Miles' guys hit the pavement Wednesday to help incoming students carry bedspreads, books, backpacks and much more. And this wasn't just the bench players who were helping out. Quarterback Brandon Harris, who is competing for the starting spot, and stud running back Terrence Magee were spotted lending a hand:





By assisting students, the players not only provided a much-needed helping hand, but they also put their team in the good graces of the class of 2018. Not that LSU, which routinely sells out its 102,000-seat stadium, is lacking in support from its student body, but it's always nice to start on the right foot.

Speaking of feet, hopefully the LSU players were able to avoid the fate of Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles, who injured his foot recently while moving out of a dorm.

The Tigers open their season in Houston on Aug. 30 against Wisconsin.

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