— Normally, the death of sports celebrity from Pittsburgh, even a legendary one, would not be quite as personal here in West Virginia as is the death of Carroll Hoff Cook.
You knew him as Beano.
And I say you knew him with confidence that you did. Everyone knew Beano Cook.
If you had anything to do with college football, you knew this rumpled pundit, usually in a black suit that looked as though it needed a quick trip to the dry cleaner, wadded up pieces of newspaper crammed into the suit pockets.
And, if you were from West Virginia, you really knew Beano Cook.
After all, it was he who picked West Virginia University to win the national championship in 1998 on national television, just as he predicted two Heisman Trophies for Notre Dame quarterback Ron Powlus.
WVU didn’t get its title, still hasn’t, and Powlus is still awaiting that first Heisman … but people talked about it and debated it, and Beano knew he’d done just what he set out to do.
For 10 years, from 1956 to 1966, he was the sports information director at Pitt, days when the rivalry really flourished, and a legendary SID he was. Even after his days being employed by Pitt, when he was living alone in a downtown apartment, showing up here and there, holding court in a corner of the press box in Three Rivers Stadium or with just someone who recognized him on the street, he was promoting college football.
Yeah, he was the enemy if you were from West Virginia, but coach Don Nehlen once called him “one of the only Pitt guys I like.”
The press room at Petersen Events Center in Pittsburgh is named for him.
That he made it big time in television was something of a tribute to the two things TV lacks — honesty and reality.