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ESPN commentator Beano Cook dies at 81

The Associated Press
Published:   |   Updated: March 18, 2013 at 04:54 PM
PITTSBURGH -

Beano Cook, the college football commentator with an encyclopedic knowledge of the sport he dearly loved, has died.

The 81-year-old Boston native had worked for ESPN since 1986 and was the sports information director at his alma mater, the University of Pittsburgh, from 1956 to 1966. The school announced Thursday that Cook had died in his sleep.

Cook was a diabetic and his health had been failing recently, as he made mention in his most recent blog post at www.bean-cook.com.

"Sorry to say that health issues hit me at the worst time — start of College Football Season," he wrote in a post dated Oct. 1. "Everything except recovery takes a back-burner now. I won't say I'll be back to the blog by a certain date, as some businesses might "promise," but I do hope to return soon. Thanks for your support and encouragement. Enjoy the season! — Beano"

"Beano Cook was an American original. His passion, depth and breadth of knowledge, and humor were unique," ESPN host Chris Fowler said. "He was an invaluable early mentor to me and friend. His imprint can still be seen on GameDay each week."

Cook, like many in the business, fell in love with simply being around the competition. With a career that took him so many places, it was hard not to get wrapped up in it.

"Getting to know the athletes really provided me with my fondest memories," Cook once said. "That was the most fun."

OHIO STATE: There are very few places in America where a pizza order by a football coach's wife would make it to TV and become a mini-controversy that would require the school issuing a statement.

Welcome to Ohio State.

It all began with the wife of defensive assistant (and last year's interim head coach) Luke Fickell phoning a local pizza parlor to call in an order. The kid who took the call took down her name and made a crack about how Ohio State's defense needed to improve. Somehow, the shop's manager heard about the comment and fired the kid who made the crack.

That's about it. But at least one local TV station and several bloggers jumped on the story. That's how big a deal the Buckeyes are in Ohio.

MICHIGAN: Tom Coyle, a co-captain for the Wolverines in 1972, has died. He was 62.

The school announced Coyle's death Wednesday. He died Tuesday at his home in Tampa.

Coyle was a co-captain in 1972 and a three-time letter winner. Michigan went 30-3 in those three seasons. Coyle started 32 games at right guard in that span.

DUKE: Coach David Cutcliffe says starting quarterback Sean Renfree appears probable for this week's game at Virginia Tech.

Cutcliffe said after practice Thursday that Renfree will be re-evaluated today. Renfree missed last week's win over Virginia with an injured throwing elbow suffered two weeks ago when a Wake Forest player hit his right arm.

Backup Anthony Boone led two touchdown drives in the win against the Demon Deacons and threw four touchdown passes in the win over the Cavaliers.

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