Yesterday ESPN college football analyst Beano Cook died at the age of 81. Cook had provided his unique insights and perspective into college football for many, many years at ESPN and had most recently taken part in a podcast with Ivan Maisel. Maisel's column reflecting on his time with Cook is an emotional must read.
Tributes have poured in from across the college football and greater sports world reflecting on Beano's legacy. ESPN also put together two fantastic videos, one featuring Cook's patented commenatry and another a rememberance by Chris Fowler.
As I grew up, Beano Cook wasn't just someone who talked about or covered college football. Beano Cook was college football. That is his enduring legacy for me and so many college football fans. There were more polished analysts, commentators with better resumes, ex-players with bigger credentials, and people that got more television time. None captured the essence of college football like Beano Cook. He was about the rivalry, the history, the legend and myth, but most of all the passion. Beano commanded your attention, entertained and enlightened whether he was talking about Urban Meyer, the romance of Saturdays in the fall, the tradition of Michigan's uniforms, the triple option, or the history of "Notrah" Dame football.
When Beano Cook came on my television I knew I'd learn something new about college football and I knew I'd grow to appreciate college football just a little more. In that way, he was uniquely equipped to be an ambassador for the sport.
It's cliche and standard practice to say at a time like this, "there will never be another Beano Cook." But sadly, it's true. Do you ever envision another university sports publicist becoming an authority on college football and changing the way the sport is televised? These days with comedians being hired to manufacture laughs, debate being embraced at fever pitch levels, and the noise level at an all-time high, there's little room for genuine, irreverent personalities like Beano Cook. And that's a shame. Pepole like Beano Cook are where the real treasure of sports lie.