ESPN college football analyst Carroll "Beano" Cook has died in his sleep at the age of 81, his friend and colleague Ivan Maisel reported this morning on Twitter:
I am very sorry to tell you that Beano Cook died in his sleep. He was 81. If you love college football, you will miss him.— Ivan Maisel (@Ivan_Maisel) October 11, 2012
Cook came to prominence as one of ESPN's first and most famous studio commentators in the network's early years of college football coverage, thanks to his visible love for the sport and encyclopedic knowledge of its history.
Cook was particularly fond of the game's early battles between its Midwestern powers and the service academies, an affection that helped lead him into his most famous on-air moment, when he predicted highly-recruited Notre Dame quarterback Ron Powlus would win two Heisman Trophies.
Though Powlus didn't quite live up to that billing, Cook's status as one of college football media's true originals was -- and remains -- secure. Though less visible than in his '80s and '90s heyday, Cook continued to have a presence across ESPN's college football platforms, including his regular podcast with Maisel.
“Cook was an American original. His passion, depth and breadth of knowledge, and humor were unique. He was an invaluable early mentor to me and friend. His imprint can still be seen on GameDay each week.”
Cook was born in Boston in 1931 before moving to Pittsburgh as a child and attending the University of Pittsburgh. Per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, a Pitt athletic department spokesman confirmed that Cook had died during the night at the HCR Manor Care nursing facility in the suburb of Green Tree. After serving as Pitt's sports information director in the early days of his career, Cook maintained close ties to the school and the Panthers' program.
His passing led to tributes pouring in from across Twitter. From CBSSports.com's Bruce Feldman:
1st time I ever dialed up Beano Cook. We talked CFB for over 2 hrs. I learned a ton abt the sport's rich past AND world history.— Bruce Feldman (@BFeldmanCBS) October 11, 2012
Favorite Beano Cook anecdote: A woman called the Pitt SID office when he worked there... READ: bit.ly/W76mvq— Bruce Feldman (@BFeldmanCBS) October 11, 2012
From CBS Sports Network's Tim Brando:
We lost CFB's crown jewel today, Caroll "Beano" Cook passed away in his sleep. No greater ambassador and historian for CFB than the Beanster— Tim Brando (@TimBrando) October 11, 2012
No one meant more to me in CFB than Beano Cook. An original. You always wanted his preview & no one better to put a period on your CFB Sat.— Tim Brando (@TimBrando) October 11, 2012
From CBSSports.com's Tony Barnhart:
Beano was a treasure for those who love college football. Incredible knowledge about the history of the game. We will miss him.— Tony Barnhart (@MrCFB) October 11, 2012
Favorite Beano Cook story: He's on a radio show and hosts are talking music and ask what's his favorite band. Beano says, "Ohio State."— Bob Holt (@BobHoltADG) October 11, 2012
When coaches would complain about Beano to Pitt AD Frank Carver, he would say if you want to win as bad as Beano does we will all be OK— John Antonik (@JohnAntonik) October 11, 2012
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.— Dan Rubenstein (@DanRubenstein) October 11, 2012
Sure Beano occasionally veered into becoming the crazy uncle you only see on holidays, but he was OUR crazy uncle you only see on holidays.— Hugh Kellenberger (@HKellenbergerCL) October 11, 2012
Beano in 1988: I don't want to die in the middle of the football season. I have to know who's No. 1 in the last polls.— Mike Humes (@MikeHumesESPN) October 11, 2012
HT on some Tweets: SBNation