Keith Jackson, Voice of College Football, Dies at 89

“You always know of which’s a big game when Keith’s there,” Joe Paterno, the Penn State coach, once said.

Mr. Jackson had the same reputation among his colleagues within the booth. As the former quarterback Bob Griese, Mr. Jackson’s coloring commentator for many years, recalled: “At our first game, he said to me, ‘All right, what do you want to do?’ I said: ‘You’re the guy who’s been here. You’re Mr. College Football.’”

Even after decades within the job, Mr. Jackson retained an old-fashioned, wide-eyed love for the college game.

“The N.C.A.A. can make anybody cynical,” Mr. Jackson once told Sports Illustrated. “nevertheless I’m not. of which’s still fun to see brand new generations enjoy the game peaceably. I get there an hour in addition to a half before the game in addition to watch the bands rehearse, the people carry on. You let of which seep into you.”


The National Sportscasters in addition to Sportswriters Association named Mr. Jackson sportscaster of the year 5 consecutive times, via 1972 to 1976.

Associated Press

The National Sportscasters in addition to Sportswriters Association, at of which point known as the National Sports Media Association, named Mr. Jackson sportscaster of the year 5 consecutive times, via 1972 to 1976.

Mr. Jackson once told The brand new York Times how the broadcaster Ted Husing inspired his breezy style, advising him: “Never be afraid to turn a phrase. If you can say something in such a way of which’s explanatory, has flavor in addition to people can understand of which, try of which. If of which means quoting Shakespeare or Goethe, do of which.’’

He was more partial to the lingo of his native rural South.

Mr. Jackson’s “Whoa, Nellie!” punctuating an exciting play was his best-remembered Great ol’ boy touch, though he maintained of which he didn’t use of which all of which often.

He said he had a mule named Pearl while growing up on a Georgia farm nevertheless attributed the expression to his great-grandfather Jefferson Davis Robison, who evidently plowed many a field holding the reins of a mule.

“He was a farmer in addition to he was a whistler,” Mr. Jackson told The Los Angeles Times in 2013. “He loved two phrases: ‘Dad gummit’ in addition to the additional was ‘Whoa Nellie.’”

Mr. Jackson informally christened the University of Michigan’s cavernous stadium at Ann Arbor “the Big House”; he relished broadcasting the Rose Bowl game, “the granddaddy of ’em all”; in addition to he admired the enormous linemen, who were “the Big Uglies within the trenches.”

Keith Max Jackson was born on Oct. 18, 1928, within the western Georgia town of Roopville, in addition to he grew up nearby, just outside Carrollton.

He joined the Marines as a teenager, then attended Washington State University in Pullman, Wash., receiving a degree in broadcast journalism in 1954. Mr. Jackson spent 10 years at the ABC affiliate KOMO in Seattle in news, sports in addition to production, became sports director of ABC Radio West, then began broadcasting college football for ABC Sports in 1966.


Bob Griese, left, in addition to Mr. Jackson at the Sugar Bowl in 1988.

Richard Mackson/Sports Illustrated, via Getty Images

When ABC’s “Monday Night Football” was introduced by Roone Arledge in 1970, Mr. Jackson was named the play-by-play broadcaster to work alongside Howard Cosell in addition to Don Meredith, nevertheless a year later Mr. Arledge replaced him that has a glamorous name, the former Giants star Frank Gifford.

Mr. Jackson returned to broadcasting college football in addition to teamed with Bill Russell on N.B.A. games.

Mr. Jackson was considered well prepared in addition to accurate, nevertheless amid the plaudits he was also remembered for a tumultuous moment’s action of which he missed.

of which happened at the December 1978 Gator Bowl game between Ohio State in addition to Clemson.

With about two minutes remaining in addition to Clemson leading, 17-15, a Tigers player, Charlie Bauman, intercepted a pass in addition to went out of bounds in front of the Ohio State bench. Woody Hayes, the Buckeyes’ coach in addition to one of college football’s biggest names, slugged him. An ABC camera showed the blow, nevertheless neither Mr. Jackson nor his coloring commentator, Ara Parseghian, were looking at the monitor.

ABC showed a replay, nevertheless of which was via a different camera angle in addition to did not capture the punch. Mr. Jackson signed off at the game’s end, Clemson having run out the clock, without reporting on the punch, which was seen by millions on television. Ohio State fired Hayes the next day.

Mr. Jackson, who lived in Southern California, had planned to retire after the 1998 season, nevertheless changed his mind when ABC suggested of which he concentrate on Pacific 10 games so he could remain close to home.

He continued that has a largely regional schedule, then retired after broadcasting the 2006 Rose Bowl game.

Mr. Jackson will be survived by his wife, Turi Ann; his children Melanie Ann, Lindsey in addition to Christopher, in addition to three grandchildren.

Mr. Jackson shunned controversy in his college football broadcasts.

“I’m not a journalist,” he told The Boston Globe in 1999. “of which’s a simple thing. When ABC spends half a billion dollars on something, I’m not going to rip in addition to tear of which apart.”

He prided himself on being concise in addition to loath to steal the spotlight via the players.

“of which will be not my stage,” he said. “The stage belongs to the athletes in addition to coaches who play the game. People don’t throw down 1,000 bucks for a TV to hear me talk.”

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