Beano Cook, The Cardinal of College Football, Has Passed Away [College Football Greats]
Beano Cook, the college football historian that everybody knows and loves, passed away in his sleep at the age of 81.
This is probably the first death of a non-family member or friend that has stuck with me. I’ve been listening to Beano Cook on the ESPNU College Football podcast since the podcast began about six years ago, and I have never missed an episode. It is going to be awful this offseason without Beano Cook contextualizing recent events and making quips comparing football to United States and world history. He really hit home on the longevity of college football by discussing events that occured “after the war.”
As a fan of Oregon, a team with very little history worth talking about, Beano Cook provided a gateway to reach in to the past. It was different than reading a book or watching old highlights and games. When he spoke it seemed like he was talking directly to the listener rather than Ivan Maisel on the podcast. It was through Beano Cook that characters like the Four Horsemen of Notre Dame, Knute Rockne, and Bear Bryant, lived on for people like me who are too young to know what these people were really like. Beano was the fourth-dimensional keeper of information on America’s most important sport, college football.
Just for some background, Beano Cook graduated from Pitt in 1954 before working as the Sports Information Director there from 1956 to 1966. From there he worked as a writer and in public relations for the St. Petersburg Times, the Miami Dolphins, and eventually ABC in the 1980′s, leading in to his job with ESPN. He was one of the original members of College Gamedaywhen it was still a studio show. Beano Cook’s passion for the game is completely unmatchable. He made the sport amazing not only in its excitement and meaning but in the fact that it will carry on for decades, and perhaps centuries, just like it has already been around for over 100 years. If anyone is the face of college football, it is Beano Cook. While I firmly believe, and I’m sure Beano Cook would agree with me, that college football will exist as longer as America does (i.e. until the end of time). I surely hope that Beano Cook is remembered just as long. We won’t ever see anyone like Beano Cook again, and that is only because of how amazing Beano Cook truly was.
Here is what I think the funniest story is involving Beano Cook. From a 1982 Sports Illustrated profile:
When Beano Cook, the newest member of ABC‘s college football announcing team, was the Pitt sports information director, he got a call one day from a woman asking for a copy of the Panthers’ football roster. “But lady,” Beano replied, “there are 120 guys out for the team right now. You really oughtta wait three weeks, till we make the cuts and are down to 75 or 80 kids. Otherwise, it’s really a waste of your time.”
The woman, however, was adamant. She needed the roster. Pronto. “But why?” Beano asked, dreading the hours it would take to round up the name of every tackling dummy cluttering up the practice field. “Because,” she said, matter of factly, “I want to sleep with everybody on the Pitt football team.”
Beano gasped. “Well,” he said, clearing his throat, “in alphabetical order, starting at guard…Cook, Beano.”