Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Sports column

October 17, 2012

Beano Cook’s legacy in the sporting world

(Continued)

But he liked it for another reason, too, and that was what writer Bill Evans wrote down this way about the procession of West Virginia fans driving home from Pittsburgh.

“The longest funeral procession in the history of mankind,” he called it.

In recent years, Cook’s failing health slowed him. He wasn’t out of his downtown Pittsburgh apartment very much and, to be honest, he didn’t see much reason to leave.

His world was changing, and his world was college football.

“Nobody has fun anymore,” he noted. “College football is now a business. The kids go to summer school. Freshmen come early, the spring semester — the last free time anybody has is your senior year of high school — and a lot of kids miss that now. Football’s year-round. And everybody hates everybody. Nobody laughs anymore. Members of the media think that everything they write or say is more important than the Ten Commandments.”

That is a far cry from the quote of Beano’s that greeted every media member at his press box seat at last Saturday’s Pitt game, a quote from Beano a number of years back, one that sums up the one love affair he had in his life perfectly:

“Why do I love college football? The passion,” it read. “A lot of us who follow college football are like Walter Mitty. We dream of being the Saturday hero. On Sundays they play for money. On Saturdays they play for passion, for the love of the game. I think that’s why it’s our greatest sport.

“When people study this civilization 10 thousand years from now, historians are going to be baffled about why more people followed pro football than college. They are going to decide that it was a weakness of this civilization that more people wanted to watch pro football on Sundays rather than college on Saturdays.

“Many things have changed about the game during my lifetime, but the one thing that hasn’t changed is the passion.”

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Bob Hertzel is a columnist for The Times West Virginian in Fairmont, W.Va. Contact him at bhertzel@hotmail.

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