I think it was 1997 when I first became aware of college football commentator Beano Cook. ESPN chats were how I was introduced to the historian and his histrionics. I suppose in a sense, he was a little refreshing from the cocoon of Penn State coverage. He was actually critical of Penn State and Joe Paterno from time to time, (which wasn’t the norm in the late 90s, though I’m sure some will protest that observation) not overly so, but generally fair. As I followed him, I learned of his prediction of Ron Powlus winning two Heisman Trophies (Beano overestimated by two) and some of his other witticisms, such as reacting to MLB’s giving hostages free lifetime passes to games with “haven’t they suffered enough.”
Beano was a publicist at Pitt, his alma mater, in the 1950s and 1960s and then most prominently a television executive before turning analyst. The rise of college football on TV is due in part to Beano.
Overall, I think I respected Beano because he realized the history of college football was more than the current top 25. He even talked about the Ivy League from time to time.
Years later, with what started out as a Tailgate Advisory and Newsletter, I started a feature called “Beano Watch.” Basically, I grabbed what ever he said about the Nittany Lions and usually included some mock outrage and the observation that the opposite of his prediction always came true. I even got the ESPN Insider subscription so that I could read his chat. It later became part of my blogging. The Beano schtick became part of tailgates with friends.
I was following Beano as closely over the last couple of years because the joke went about as far as I could go and there weren’t too many times we all tailgated together to tell them. After last November, I pretty much tuned out college football in general too (I might address that this week), but I’d occasionally listen to his podcast. He was more fair about Penn State than most and I appreciated it. His podcasts with Ivan Maisel were some of the few I listened to over the years.
TRIBUTES AND OBITUARIES
Former Pitt official, ESPN analyst Beano Cook dies – Tribune-Review
IVAN MAISEL: Beano was an expert in friendship – ESPN