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Beth Maiman | NCAA.com | October 4, 2019

How accurate are Lee Corso's picks on College GameDay? Meet the man who tracks them

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NCAA.com’s article on who Lee Corso picked today is, without fail, a popular read every college football Saturday.

In case you are unfamiliar with the tradition, Corso picks who he thinks will win at the end of ESPN’s College GameDay program each week. It's not just a pick. It's Corso doing things like waging a picking battle with Katy Perry or holding a real life horned frog while wearing the head gear:

We wondered just how accurate the former coach's picks have been since his predictions began in 1993. It wasn't easy to track down the data. Luckily, we found 33-year-old Cole Reagan to help us out.

Reagan, who works in IT in Dallas, began recording Corso's picks in 2009.  He remembers watching GameDay and hearing Corso say something provocative while picking alongside celebrity guest Chipper Jones. That's when Reagan thought to himself,  "I wonder if the celebrity guest pickers do better than him?" He began to record all of Corso's picks, first on a legal pad and then on a computer spreadsheet. He researched past years to round out his data. The result is gamedaycole.com. That's where you can find the results of Corso's picks and other notable prognosticators.

Lee Corso picks Alabama on ESPN College GameDay

According to Reagan's data, Corso is 219-120 with his headgear picks. He noted that it’s hard to determine what is an official headgear pick and when it began. Corso's first official headgear pick was the 1996 Penn State vs. Ohio State game. But, Reagan points out, he has been choosing his big pick of the day since 1993 by putting on a baseball cap. Here's the coach's record since 1996 according to gamedaycole.comIt's pretty darn good:

Year Record Percentage
1996 4-1 80%
1997 4-4 50%
1998 5-4 55.56%
1999 11-0 100%
2000 7-5 58.33%
2001 5-6 45.45%
2002 4-9 30.77%
2003 12-3 80%
2004 10-4 71.43%
2005 11-4 73.33%
2006 11-5 68.75%
2007 12-4 75%
2008 11-7 61.11%
2009 11-5 68.75%
2010 12-5 70.59%
2011 13-4 76.47%
2012 10-6 62.50%
2013 12-6 66.67%
2014 13-5 72.22%
2015 6-12 33.33%
2016 10-8 55.56%
2017 10-7 58.82%
2018 11-7 63.63%

* Data courtesy of gamedaycole.com

"One of the biggest cliches fans like to point out is that if Lee Corso picks your team, it means you are going to lose," Reagan said. "Well, he picks over 64 percent. It may not be the greatest percentage, but the cliche that he is some kinda curse is wrong."

Reagan plotted Corso's picks through the years. We can see that 1999 was his best year (11-0!), while 2002 marked his worst at 4-9:

corso picks line chart

* Data courtesy of gamedaycole.com

One of his favorite fun facts about Corso's picking is that he is 22-1 when choosing USC. The lone loss was when the Trojans fell to Washington on Nov. 12, 2016. 

Reagan will record Corso's predictions this season as the first ESPN College GameDay kicks off Saturday. He won't be alone. His wife Jennifer is also part of the fun. And there is also gameday baby, Reagan's daughter. Reagan says he is a lucky man that his wife encourages this project, and proudly notes that she consistently picks with the best of them. Thanks to Reagan, we know that Lee Corso does too.

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