Beano Cook, football guru and friend, will be dearly missed

Beano Cook
Longtime college football analyst Beano Cook died on Thursday. He was 81.

I'm going to miss my friend.

I talked to Beano Cook once or twice a week for six years up until a few months ago. I cried in the NFL.com newsroom today when I got a text telling me he was gone. There's a lot of stories out there about some of the more well-known statements he made in his lifetime of analyzing college football. But you know what? Most of my favorite things about him happened while the cameras and microphones were off.

Want to know who he was? I can tell you that by what I'm going to miss ...

I'm going to miss him telling me how much of a pleasure it was watching Tim Tebow play, and that he was one of the top three players at any level he'd ever seen.

I'm going to miss calling him on the phone, and hearing him answer by saying "Columbo", or "McGarrett."

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I'm going to miss how I could ask him the final score of any college football bowl game going back to the 1940s and he would get it right.

"Beano, what was the final score of the 1955 Cotton Bowl?"

"Well, that was Georgia Tech beating Arkansas. I think the score was 14-6." It was. I knew he never cheated because he didn't own a computer. Nor an answering machine.

I'm going to miss how no one loved the game of football more than he did. There was a purity about him that made every time we talk feel like I was getting ready to go see Notre Dame and Navy at Yankee Stadium in 1943.

I'm going to miss how no one could joke about death like he did. When I would say goodbye to him on the phone I would say, "I'll talk to you Monday." And he always replied with the same thing: "Talk to you then. If I don't answer the phone it's because I'm dead."

I'm going to miss how he would say that on the day he died, his obituary would be on page D12 in the newspaper, in the small agate type, under the heading "Also died today: Beano Cook." He wasn't afraid of death. And seeing how people have reacted to his passing, I'm going to miss that he didn't know how big of an impact he had on everyone who loved football.

I'm going to miss his never-ending stories about the Rooney and Mara families. The way he told them made you feel like you were listening to a history of ancient kings from Europe.

I'm going to miss needling him about his "Ron Powlus will win multiple Heismans at Notre Dame" comment that will forever be the moment people remember him for.

I'm going to miss him telling me how many prank phone calls he would get every week in which the caller would ask if he could speak to Ron Powlus. That's because Beano was listed in the phone book. How many people with public profiles would do that now? And honestly, I think he looked forward to those calls somewhat because they were from people who knew a lot about football.

I'm going to miss him telling me for his last meal he'd want pea soup, a plate of bacon and macaroni and cheese.

I'm going to miss how every time he would needle me, I'd respond by saying "I'll never get Stefanie Powers to call you again." Beano had a life-long crush on the actress, and a few years ago I found myself at the same party as her. I introduced myself and asked her if she would say hi to Beano on the phone and she graciously agreed. So I called Beano, and told him I was handing the phone to Stefanie Powers, and that it wasn't a joke. Then for five minutes I watched Stefanie answering questions about her life from Beano, who wanted to be sure it really was her on the phone. He actually asked her where she went to high school and what year she graduated. I don't know if I laughed more at the question or the fact he knew the answer. (Hollywood High School, 1960.)

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I'm going to miss him telling me how the worst job in the world as a reporter was covering a war, and the second worst job was covering Major League Baseball.

I'm going to miss the Pittsburgh native consistently asking me, a New York Jets fan, last year, "I haven't had a chance to look at the news today, did the Jets beat the Steelers in the AFC Championship game?"

I'm going to miss him telling me how he had to get off the phone because the new "Hawaii Five-O" was on TV. He always had to go because he didn't have a DVR, or even a VHS recorder.

I'm going to miss that we weren't actually related, because visiting with him felt like I was sitting next to my grandfather.

I'm always going to remember on my final radio show, he was my only guest. When he asked me why, I told him he was the only person I wanted to talk to. I cried a lot that night, too.

I'm going to miss my friend.

Jason Smith hosts NFL Fantasy Live on the NFL Network and writes fantasy and other pith for NFL.com. Talk to him on Twitter @howaboutafresca, and listen to his Fantasy Podcast with Michael Fabiano and Elliot Harrison every week on nfl.com. He only asks you never bring up when the Jets play poorly.

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