Beano Cook is the 2011 recipient of the 38th Bert McGrane Award, given annually by the Football Writers Association of America in recognition of service to its membership and of contributions to the sport.
Cook, a college football commentator for ESPN since 1986, was informed of the award on the "ESPNU College Football Podcast."
"I don't know what to say," Cook said. "It's unbelievable."
Then, recognizing his trademark phrase, Cook said, "I guess I should say, 'Unbelievable!' "
Cook, 79, worked as a sports information director at Pittsburgh from 1956 to 1966 and publicized college football for ABC from 1966 to 1974. He did the same for CBS from 1977 to 1982, then returned to ABC to work in front of the camera as a college football commentator before joining ESPN.
"I'm shocked," Cook said after the podcast. "The only person more shocked in recent years over getting picked was Sarah Palin. I've come to the conclusion that if you live long enough, you're going to get some type of award whether you deserve it or not."
The McGrane Award will be presented at the FWAA annual meeting in January. Cook also will be recognized at the College Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony next summer.
"Beano has always been an institution of passion and knowledge for the sport," said Mark Blaudschun of The Boston Globe, who became chair of the McGrane Award after winning it in 2007. "College football has great stories, and we need Beano to tell them. He has no agenda, just his passion for the sport."
Ivan Maisel is a senior writer for ESPN.com.