As the college football world, and the sports world as a whole, mourns the death of ESPN college football analyst Beano Cook, we take some time to look at the words being said about a man who spent his life watching, loving and discussing college football. Cook died overnight at the age of 81.
ESPN's Ivan Maisel wrote a touching story about the friendship he built with Cook as the pair conducted the ESPNU College Football Podcast together for the past six years:
You see, Beano may have been an expert on the history of college football from 1930 to 1990, but he showed his real expertise in friendship. He collected friends like some people collect stamps. He didn't marry - even though he might have given up college football for Stefanie Powers, the 1980s television star - and never had children.
But Beano cared about the people around him. He asked questions. I am not the only one at ESPN who had that kind of relationship with him. Mel Kiper Jr. did. Howie Schwab did. I am sure there are others.
He always asked me what other writers had been at the game I covered the previous Saturday. "I don't miss the game," he said. "I miss the hanging out."
Tim Brando of CBS Sports spilled tears on his microphone as he tried to find the words to say about his recently passed friend. Brando learned of Cook's death while on the air and had to collect himself in order to get back on and finish his show, emotions overwhelming him as the news sunk in.
Tim Hyland of Black Shoe Diaries penned an ode to Cook, calling him "The Greatest Commissioner College Football Never Had," while providing some insight into the man that many young fans may not know about or appreciate:
Because, you see, the great Beano Cook, for all his quirks and all of his occasionally misguided views, brought to the college football airwaves precisely the one thing that College Football Nation needed to hear, perhaps today more than ever: Perspective.
Real, enduring, honest perspective.
If you are not all that familiar with Beano's work - which is quite possible, especially if you're young, which I no longer am - you should just know this much: More than any other commentator in the sport, Beano understood what the game of college football was, and what it was supposed to be.
Football Study Hall said he was unique, genuine and a college football encyclopedia.
All great words about a great college football mind and ambassador.
Beano Cook, dead at age 81.