Beano Cook, a longtime staple of the Pittsburgh sports scene and an ESPN college football studio commentator since 1986, has died. He was 81.

The University of Pittsburgh, from which Cook graduated in 1954, announced Thursday that he had died in his sleep.

Cook began his career as a sports publicist at the school from 1956 to 1966. He later worked with a number of organizations, including the Pittsburgh Civic Arena.

Cook was a studio commentator for ABC from 1982 to 1985 before joining ESPN. He also worked as ABC's media director from 1966 to 1974. He later worked for the St. Petersburg Times and Miami Dolphins, and was a publicist for CBS Sports.

His breadth of knowledge of the history of the college game earned him the moniker, the "Cardinal of College Football." Most recently, Cook and senior college football writer Ivan Maisel shared the microphone on a weekly podcast. Cook also chatted regularly with users.

"He was one of a kind," George Bodenheimer, ESPN executive chairman, said in a statement. "There never was and never will be another Beano. His combination of humor, passion, love of college football and his engaging personality left an indelible mark on the sport and touched anyone who knew him."