A Tribute to College Football Icon Carroll H. “Beano” Cook

The game of college football lost one of the finest journalists and storytelling icon this week when Carroll H. “Beano” Cook passed away at the age of 81.

To his friends and colleagues, they simply called him Beano.

There was no other journalist who could weave a college football yarn like Beano Cook.   When he talked college football, especially his beloved Pitt Panthers and Michigan Wolverines, Cook’s face would light up like a Christmas tree.

Cook was a true historian of the game.   A gatekeeper of sorts when it came to telling stories of those early days of college football.   Stories of the “Bear”, Knute Rockne, George Gipp, Ara Parseghian, Bobby Bowden and Joe Paterno.

In fact, Cook was often called the “Cardinal of College Football” because of his knowledge and tenure around the game.

Beano was born September 1st, 1931 in San Francisco California.   Folks often wondered how Cook came to be called “Beano”.    As the story goes, when Cook moved to Pittsburgh from Boston at the age of 7, a neighbor of his gave him the name referencing his time in Beantown.   From there, the name just stuck – he was simply known as Beano.

Cook graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 1954, then served for two years in the U.S. Army. He was a sports publicist for the University of Pittsburgh from 1956 to March 1966, worked for the Miami Dolphins for one season, served as a publicist for both ABC and CBS in New York.    In between those stints, Cook volunteered with VISTA in Florida in 1976.  For a brief period in the late 1980s, Cook did commentary on WPXI-TV in Pittsburgh.

“Beano Cook was an American original” said ESPN’s Game Day Host Chris Fowler when talking about Cook this week.    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.”

“He was one of a kind,” ESPN executive chairman George Bodenheimer 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 and touched anyone who knew him.”

Cook simply loved the game.   For its purity, for its passion and for its competitive spirit.   “On Sundays they play for money,” Cook once said.   “On Saturdays they play for passion, for the love of the game. I think that’s why it’s our greatest sport.”

Beano Cook and Lee Corso at ESPN

“Beano was a unique human being and he was college football at ESPN.   I am indebted to him.  Beano was a tremendous help at the start of my television career and I would not be where I am today without him,” said ESPN analyst Lee Corso.  “I am forever grateful to Beano and the time we spent behind the GameDay desk.”

Many in and around college football provided the same sentiment on Thursday.

“It’s a sad day for college football,” said Penn State head football coach Bill O’Brien.    “Especially in the state of Pennsylvania, where he was an icon.”

Carroll H. “Beano” Cook died in his sleep on October 10th at his home in Pittsburgh, PA.

( Watch the Tribute to Beano Cook by clicking the video box above )

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