Beano Cook, a college football commentator known for his encyclopedic knowledge about the sport and acerbic quips, died today at the age of 81.
Cook worked as a sports information publicist for his alma mater, the University of Pittsburgh, then as a studio commentator for ABC and ESPN. He also worked as ABC’s press director, for the St. Petersburg Times and Miami Dolphins. He also was a publicist for CBS Sports.
Born Carroll H. Cook in Boston, he moved to Pittsburgh with his family when he was a child and acquired his nickname when a neighbor said, “Oh, from Boston, like the beans.”
One of Cook’s best quips — “Haven’t they suffered enough?” — came in response to the news that Major League Baseball would give lifetime passes to returning hostages from Iran in 1981.
His career began in 1954 after his graduation from the University of Pittsburgh. From a 1982 Sports Illustrated story:
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.”
From ESPN’s compendium of Beanoisms:
“I’d like to do the last scoreboard show and then go. 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.” (1988)
“You’ll never have a 16-team playoff in college football. The most that could happen would be four teams in the next century. But after that, I’m dead, so who cares?” (1992)
“Colleges spend more money on the promotion of the Heisman than the Pentagon spends on toilets.” (1990)
H/T Bill Hofheimer, ESPN