Beano Cook died Thursday at age 81. The longtime college football broadcaster leaves behind a legacy that conveyed on every pre-game television broadcast, on the page of every blog and in every podcast.
Beano was a living bridge to the classic era of sports commentary when the medium began to evolve. Today, the majority of recognized voices on television and radio are known less for their insight into sports than their willingness to espouse outlandish opinions for a reaction. Beano was about football, through and through.
With Beano, it was no nonsense discussion. He had opinions, sure, but they never came off couched in a smug sense of self-satisfaction.
Growing up with college football in the 1990s, Beano was a Saturday morning staple, as much a part of my youthful memories as mom’s eggs and bacon and episodes of X-Men. He would break down the day’s upcoming slate on ESPN before kickoff, and depending on his prediction would elicit either “all right” or “Beano doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about,” from my dad.
But he did know what he was talking about – more than most. He lived the game, and it was apparent in his analysis of teams from around the country. I was wowed at how he seemingly had nuggets of information on every team, regardless of conference affiliation or region.
He disappeared from the broadcasts as he got older, though listeners of Ivan Maisel’s weekly podcast got to hear him weekly. His speech was more labored, but he continued to provide insight in the same straight shooting fashion.
Two seasons ago, he made a comment near the end of the season that perfectly captured the three months of college football: “It’s like Casablanca. You’ve just started the movie, and before you know it, you’re already at the airport.”
References to classic cinema were about as pop cultured as his analysis got, instead using that time to focus on the sport’s history. The nuggets of sometimes obscure information he would produce defined his style. Few grasped the sport’s illustrious history quite like Beano.
The man loved the game, and his passion was infectious. Sports media needs more Beano Cooks.