Beano Cook, the legendary college football television analyst, passed away in his sleep on Thursday morning. He was 81.
The University of Pittsburgh announced that Cook passed on Thursday morning in a press release.
His death comes as a complete shock, even though he had reported a bit of health trouble in early October, according to a report from ESPN. He gained fame and notoriety as a television analyst and historian in the 1980s and 1990s for both ESPN and ABC Sports.
ESPN executive chairman George Bodenheimer released a statement on his death:
He was one of a kind. 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's life was devoted to sports; he started as a sports publicist for the University of Pittsburgh, his alma mater, and would eventually move on to work for both ABC and CBS Sports in New York City. Eventually, he became a studio commentator and analyst for ABC Sports, a position he would hold for much of the 1980s.
By 1986, Cook had become a household name among college football fans, and ESPN snagged him from ABC to help bolster its fledgling coverage of the sport. From there, Cook's fame and reputation took off, thanks to his immense knowledge and understanding of the history of college football.
It was that encyclopedic knowledge that eventually earned him the nickname "The Cardinal of College Football." As he moved into the 21st century, he was quickly established as one of the best sources of knowledge and perspective on the sport's history and legacy, as well as one of its most quick-witted and clever analysts.
One of Cook's most infamous moments came in response to Major League Baseball giving the victims of the Iranian hostage crisis lifetime passes to attend games, saying, "Haven't they suffered enough?" (per ESPN).
It was that wit mixed with wisdom that made Cook so beloved by college football fans. His incisive wit could help to make the considerable history of the sport much easier to understand and approach, and he was never afraid to turn that tongue on the college football system and its flaws.
Cook was unmarried and lived in Pittsburgh at the time of his death.