ESPN college football guru Beano Cook dead at 81
PITTSBURGH, PA -- The folksy ESPN college football commentator Beano Cook has died.
The 81 year-old commentator had worked for the sports network since 1986 and was the sports information director at his alma mater, the University of Pittsburgh, from 1956 to 1966. The university announced Thursday that Cook had died in his sleep.
"He was one of a kind," ESPN executive chairman George Bodenheimer said. "There never was and never will be another Beano. His combination of humor, passion, love of college football and his engaging personality left an indelible mark on the sport and touched anyone who knew him."
Cook grew up in Pittsburgh before graduating from the university in 1954, and was known for his love of the college game and, in particular, championing the cause of northeastern teams including Penn State and Pitt before either school was a nationally known power.
"Beano Cook was an American original. His passion, depth and breadth of knowledge, and humor were unique," ESPN host Chris Fowler said. "He was an invaluable early mentor to me and friend. His imprint can still be seen on GameDay each week."
Cook, like many in the business, fell in love with simply being around the competition. With a career that took him so many places, it was hard not to get wrapped up in it.
"Getting to know the athletes really provided me with my fondest memories," Cook once said. "That was the most fun."
Cook was ABC Sports' press director for the NCAA after leaving the SID job at Pitt, and later worked in as a writer or media representative for the St. Petersburg Times, Miami Dolphins, the Mutual Radio Network, and CBS before joining ESPN.
"Beano was a unique human being and he was college football at ESPN. I am indebted to him. Beano was a tremendous help at the start of my television career and I would not be where I am today without him," ESPN analyst Lee Corso said. "I am forever grateful to Beano and the time we spent behind the GameDay desk."
Carroll Cook received his distinctive nickname as a youth, when his family moved from Boston to Pittsburgh. A neighbor of the Cook family said, "Oh, from Boston, like the beans" and tabbed the seven-year-old "Beano."
Cook, like so many of his career stops, is fondly remembered at Pitt, where the media room in the Petersen Events Center is named after him.
"Beano left a legacy never to be matched. Not matched in accomplishment, wit or loyalty," Pitt athletic director Steve Pederson said. "Like so many others, it has been my privilege to be the beneficiary of Beano's counsel and friendship. He loved the University of Pittsburgh and his name is synonymous with all good things at Pitt.
"We all feel a tremendous void in our lives today."
Many in and around college football concurred on Thursday. "It's a sad day for college football," Penn State coach Bill O'Brien said. "Especially in the state of Pennsylvania, where he was an icon."
- Violent House of Pies robbery linked to murder
- Shots fired during armored car robbery
- Neighbors upset over gun range near homes
- Four sent to hospital after gas leak at school
- Houston car thieves' wish list 46 min ago
- Truck slams into fast food restaurant
- Suspect arrested wearing Cookie Monster onesie
- 'Ban Bossy' campaign to empower girls to lead
- More Houstonians using METRO system
- Wife charged in hubby's New Year's Eve murder
- Woman accused of preying on elderly man
- Ex-teacher accused of sex with student
- Police: Miley fan sneaked into Omaha dressing room
- 'Burger King baby' now seeks birth mom on Facebook