Carroll Hoff “Beano” Cook (September 1, 1931 – October 10, 2012) was a college football historian and commentator who had worked for ESPN since 1986.
He received his B.A. from the University of Pittsburgh in 1954, the year I was born.
Beano was the sports publicist for the University of Pittsburgh from 1956 to March 1966, worked for the Miami Dolphins for one season, and later served as a publicist for both ABC and CBS in New York. It was Beano who was most influential in deciding the ONE college game viewers would see on Saturday afternoon back in the day.
Bean died in his sleep Wednesday night at the age of 81. His breadth of knowledge of the history of the college game earned him the moniker, the “Cardinal of College Football.” Most recently, Cook and ESPN.com senior college football writer Ivan Maisel shared the microphone on a weekly podcast. Cook also chatted regularly with ESPN.com users. I last heard him on the Tim Brando Radio Show ten days ago before his death.
Said ESPN “College GameDay” host Chris Fowler: “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.”
One of Cook’s most famous quips came in 1981, after then-commissioner Bowie Kuhn offered lifetime passes to baseball games to U.S. hostages returning from Iran. “Haven’t they suffered enough?” Cook said.
He also was afraid to fly, often citing that one of the words associated with any airport is “terminal.”
“You only have to bat a thousand in two things — flying and heart transplants,” Cook once said. “Everything else, you can go 4-for-5.”
A neighbor gave him the nickname “Beano” when he moved to Pittsburgh from Boston as a child ( “Oh, from Boston, like the beans”).
Beano served in the U.S. Army for two years after graduating from Pittsburgh and lived in Pittsburgh for 74 years until his death. Nobody knew and loved college football as much as Beano. He was one of a kind. There will never be another Beano Cook.