Lee Corso has been an analyst on ESPN’s College GameDay since that program’s beginnings in 1987, including the key decision to take it on the road in 1993, and his donning of a mascot head with what team he’s picking has been one of the signature traditions of the program since 1996 (a tradition only prohibited by the Auburn Tigers). This year, though, Corso (who turned 85 in August), has only been appearing remotely from home thanks to COVID-19 concerns. And while he’s still been making his mascot head picks each week (including picking Ohio State in the national championship game Monday), he hasn’t been as involved as he might be in a normal year. That led to AT&T, presenting sponsor of the title game, featuring Corso as a hologram in a pair of ads running during that title game, including one with fellow ESPN analyst David Pollack donning a Corso head (screencapped above):
We’ve seen celebrity holograms on broadcasts plenty of times before, and ESPN in particular has done this for over a decade, using a Bob Ley hologram to demonstrate those capabilities all the way back in 2009. But this is an interesting deployment of that technology. It makes some sense, though; AT&T is trying to promote the technical advantages of their 5G network, and their title game sponsorship here gives them a lot of commercial slots on this broadcast, and Corso is so connected to ESPN college football broadcasts (and yet can’t be there in person), so he’s a logical figure to spotlight. But it’s still an unusual move.