ESPN college football guru Beano Cook dead at 81

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“On Sundays they play for money,” he once said. “On Saturdays they play for passion, for the love of the game. I think that’s why it’s our greatest sport.”

Cook was ABC Sports’ press director for the NCAA after leaving the SID job at Pitt, and later worked in as a writer or media representative for the St. Petersburg Times, Miami Dolphins, the Mutual Radio Network, and CBS before joining 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,” ESPN analyst Lee Corso said. “I am forever grateful to Beano and the time we spent behind the GameDay desk.”

Cook received his distinctive nickname as a youth, when his family moved from Boston to Pittsburgh. A neighbor of the Cook family said, “Oh, from Boston, like the beans” and tabbed the 7-year-old “Beano.”

Cook is fondly remembered at Pitt, where the media room in the Petersen Events Center is named after him.

“Beano left a legacy never to be matched. Not matched in accomplishment, wit or loyalty,” Pitt athletic director Steve Pederson said. “Like so many others, it has been my privilege to be the beneficiary of Beano’s counsel and friendship. He loved the University of Pittsburgh and his name is synonymous with all good things at Pitt.

“We all feel a tremendous void in our lives today.”

Many in and around college football concurred Thursday.

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

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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