It turns out to be a poor choice. Tulsa not only loses the turkey, it also loses the game 35-29. It is a big victory for Louisville, insuring its first winning season in three years. The team carries Corso and the turkey off the field on its shoulders.
Lee Corso, as one who did some enthusiastic quarterbacking at 150 pounds for Florida State a decade or so ago, believes that "nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm." He admits to having borrowed that from a non-coach named Ralph W. Emerson. His inspiration otherwise is mostly original and he allows it to breeze around, generating spirit and gathering up publicity like dust particles.
Corso ordered paste-on American flags for the Louisville helmets—"to symbolize what I have been trying to teach the kids: teamwork, unity, pride, dedication, respect"—and sent a model of the helmet, mounted on a plaque, to President Nixon. Louisville's pregame team warmup is so flashy that Corso actually got a call from a Georgia Tech coach asking if Tech could borrow the routine. "It's the sharpest pregame warmup I've ever seen," the coach said to Corso.
"Gee," said Corso, "don't you want any of my plays?"
In order to pump life into the Louisville program, Corso has accepted speaking engagements for any time at any place. Before audiences realized how entertaining he was—he provides his own sound effects: "whhssssh" (forward pass), "krrrraaaack!" (tackle), "aaaggggh" (missed tackle)—he once drew a crowd of four to a 7 a.m. breakfast. "Four hundred?" he was asked. "No, four. One, two, three, four. Gave 'em a hell of a speech, too. The whole load."
In one game last season Corso introduced to the home crowd a Nigerian placekicker named Francis Ayandele. Francis was not entirely familiar with the procedural aspects of his job, but Corso liked the idea of having a Nigerian placekicker. It had a nice sound to it. In Francis' eagerness, however, he kicked off without waiting for the referee's whistle, and with the opposing team still in its huddle.
"You shoulda seen them scrambling for the ball," chirped Corso. "It was beautiful. Bodies flying. Crash, zing, pow."
Enter Scott David Marcus, glib, handsome, hirsute son of a prosperous Manhattan shoe manufacturer and retailer (specializing in boots, buckles and square toes). He is 6'2" tall, 220 pounds, and he is sitting in a telephone booth, wearing one of the tattered gray-white T shirts that are the backbone of his wardrobe. That and the faded bell-bottom blue jeans with the peace symbol embroidered on the knee. And the love beads around his neck. And the lucky leather bracelet which (according to Marcus) works for tennis but doesn't cut it with much else.
His feet are bare and appear to have logged a lot of time on dusty roads. His beard is—or was then—full, and his coiffure is out to here, a sunburst of curly hair the color of plastic Band-Aids.
"I was walking out of the student union," says Corso. "I'd just made a speech to the freshman class, calling on them to rally behind our program, to dedicate themselves to the university. 'Follow football,' I said. 'Participate. If you can't participate, support!" And I'm walking out and I hear, Psssst. Hey, coach.'