PITTSBURGH - -- The folksy ESPN college football commentator Beano Cook has died.

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

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Cook grew up in Pittsburgh before graduating from the university in 1954. He was ABC Sports' press director for the NCAA after leaving Pitt, and later worked as a writer and media representative before joining ESPN.

Carroll Cook received his distinctive nickname as a youth, when his family moved from Boston to Pittsburgh. A neighbor of the Cook family said, "Oh, from Boston, like the beans" and tabbed the 7-year-old "Beano." -- AP