College football guru Beano Cook dies at 81

October 11, 2012|By Chris Dufresne
  • The late Carroll "Beano" Cook had been a college football commentator since 1986.
The late Carroll "Beano" Cook had been a college football commentator… (Associated Press )

It's safe to say college football will never again know a character like Beano Cook, who died in his sleep Wednesday at age 81.

Cook was a legendary sports information director at Pittsburgh who became a television public relations man and then a longtime ESPN commentator and contributor.

"Unique, extraordinary, humorous and loved the game like few others," ESPN broadcaster Mike Tirico tweeted Thursday.

Cook had an encyclopedic memory about college football and an acerbic wit. No one was more passionate about the sport.

Unfortunately, he was not granted his last wish.

"I don't want to die in the middle of the football season," Cook said in 1988. "I have to know who's No. 1 in the latest polls."

Cook once infamously predicted quarterback Ron Powlus would win two Heisman Trophies before he was done at Notre Dame.

Powlus, of course, did not even win one.

When Major League Baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn offered free lifetime passes to hostages returning  from Iran, it was Cook who quipped, "Haven't they suffered enough?"

For the last few years he co-hosted a highly entertaining podcast on with Ivan Maisel. Cook was "old media" yet his insights were always fresh.

Cook was a recluse who pontificated, without much use for the Internet, from his residence in Pittsburgh. He had a fear of flying, noting the first word you see at the airport is "terminal."

Cook was a fixture on the college football scene for five decades. He was born Carroll Hoff Cook on Sept. 1, 1931, in Boston but moved at age 7 to Pittsburgh, where he lived the rest of his life. He was nicknamed "Beano" by a childhood friend and received his bachelor's degree at the University of Pittsburgh in 1954.


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