Tributes continue to longtime ESPN college football commentator BEANO COOK, who died in his sleep Wednesday night at the age of 81. Cook appeared on ESPN as a studio analyst starting in '85 after four years at ABC Sports. Prior to that, he worked in PR for CBS Sports from '77-82 and was a sportswriter for the St. Petersburg Times from '74-77. Cook graduated from the Univ. of Pittsburgh in '54 and worked as an SID from '56-66. ESPN Exec Chair GEORGE BODENHEIMER in a statement 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" (ESPN). Cook's lawyer and longtime friend JIM DUNN said that Cook, who "never married and often poked fun at his married friends, had no surviving family." Dunn added that Cook's remains "will be cremated" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 10/12).
AN INSTITUTION: ESPN's BOB LEY said, "No one loved college football more than Beano, nobody knew more about its history, its people, its tradition" ("OTL," ESPN, 10/11). SPORTING NEWS' MIKE DECOURCY wrote, "All you really needed to fall in love with Beano was a set of ears, a sense of humor and some sort of affection for American sports." Cook "didn’t play, didn’t coach, didn’t spend decades" covering college football. But he "knew the game and its history better than anyone, and he was quick with an opinion or a quip." ESPN was "wise enough to put those qualities to excellent use" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 10/11). ESPN.com's IVAN MEISEL: "Beano may have been an expert on the history of college football from 1930 to 1990, but he showed his real expertise in friendship. He collected friends like some people collect stamps" (ESPN.com, 10/11). USA TODAY's MICHAEL HIESTAND writes, "Beano Cook was a distinctive on-air personality. That was no act" (USA TODAY, 10/12). In Pittsburgh, BOB COHN writes, "Nationally, he was known as a quirky, colorful TV commentator. In Pittsburgh, his hometown since age 7, he was known simply as an institution" (PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 10/12). CBS Sports Network’s TIM BRANDO said Cook was a “true original,” and knew college football “was about the pomp and the pageantry.” Late ABC News and ABC Sports President ROONE ARLEDGE “leaned” on Cook “ to find out which game should be the game televised on ABC. And in those days in NCAA football you only got one game.” Brando: “Without him, college football would never be what it is today on television” (“Tim Brando Show,” CBS Sports Network, 10/11).
ONE OF A KIND: ESPN's CHRIS FOWLER said Cook "was a complicated package. He was wise, he was smart, he was cranky, he was crotchety, he could be rude and crude. I loved all of that about him but I think most importantly, he had a passion for the sport" ("College Football Live," ESPN, 10/11). In N.Y., DOUGLAS MARTIN writes Cook had an "authoritative growl" and offered "curmudgeonly but witty observations." Cook's commentary "was sprinkled with historical references -- to CHURCHILL and STALIN, say -- and truths wrapped in humor" (N.Y. TIMES, 10/12). In California, Jim Carlisle writes, "Cook was known for his caustic humor, but was also prescient about college football" (VENTURA COUNTY STAR, 10/12). In Tampa, GARY SHELTON: "The world lost a funny, funny man. ... That rare soul who managed to love the sport without surrendering his sense of humor to it" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 10/12). In Seattle, BUD WITHERS writes, "We lost a bit of the fabric of college football" (SEATTLE TIMES, 10/12).
TWITTER REAX: On Twitter, many took time to offer their memories of Cook. ESPN's LOU HOLTZ: "Reflecting on my wonderful friend Beano Cook. Such an outstanding person. His dedication to CFB, kids & parents said it all. He was special." FoxSportsOhio.com’s PAT MCMANOMAN wrote, “Beano Cook never forgot a name or person. Could call him once a year and he'd remember your college, your family, and he'd always ask. RIP.” ESPN VP/Communications MIKE SOLTYS: "A great one has passed. In the 80s, Beano Cook took this kid publicist under his wing and taught me much about life." SB Nation’s DAN RUBENSTEIN wrote, “I'm convinced nobody loved CFB more than Beano. Memory like a steel trap, he's always going to be college football's awesome grandfather.” SiriusXM’s PAUL FINEBAUM: "One of Beano's best after BOWIE KUHN offered the freed Iranian hostages lifetime pass for baseball. 'Haven't they suffered enough?'"