Keith Jackson, venerated college football sportscaster, dies at 89

Jose Verdugo
Enero 14, 2018

Jackson, the unmistakable, unique voice of ABC's college football broadcasts, as well as Monday Night Football in its early days, left us at age 89 on Friday night.

Jackson worked a wide variety of events for ABC's Wide World of Sports as well as Major League Baseball, NBA and 10 Olympic Games, but the oft-honored - and imitated - Jackson came to be synonymous with college football.

Broyles said Jackson's long-term association with college football has been a key for the game's growth on television. Keith was a true gentleman and memorable presence.

Many of you know I grew up in a Gamecock household.

He attributed his "Whoa, Nellie", to his great-grandfather, a farmer who used that phrase in the fields.

A native of west Georgia, near the Alabama border, his smooth baritone voice and use of phrases like "big uglies" for linemen gave his game calls a familiar feel. And it was Keith Jackson on the call.

Jackson called the 2003 Fiesta Bowl, the national championship game between The Ohio State University and Miami. As it happened, two nights later Jackson called Game 6 of the World Series for ABC (he alternated games with Al Michaels).

He called multiple World Series and baseball All-Star games, and was ABC's lead National Basketball Association play-by-play announcer.

The first time I remember hearing Jackson on the call for a game was the 1991 game between Ohio State and MI that clinched the Heisman Trophy for Michigan's Desmond Howard.

His intros to big games should be required viewing at all TV broadcasting schools. Jackson agreed, once saying: "This is not my stage".

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Jackson called 15 Rose Bowls and 16 Sugar Bowls in his legendary career, finishing with Young's run to the end zone vs. USC in 2006.

Jackson joined the ABC radio network in 1965, getting his big break there when someone was needed to call a parachute-jumping segment for "Wide World of Sports" in 1968.

Jackson was interviewed by Bill Plaschke for The Los Angeles Times recently, on the ten year anniversary of his retirement. From Winter and Summer Olympics, to the first season of the NFL's Monday Night Football in 1970, to motorcycle daredevil Evel Knievel's successful jump of 13 Mac trucks during the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) in Toronto in August 1974.

Jackson also doubts he used it a few times or twice in a broadcast, but it was made more famous by those impersonating him.

Jackson leaves behind his wife Turi Ann, three grown children (Melanie, Lindsey, Christopher), and three grandchildren (Ian, Holly, Spencer).

Jackson didn't make his living on football alone.

"I would go around and pluck things off the bush and see if I could find a different way to say some things".

Jackson was a longtime resident of Sherman Oaks, California, and Pender Harbor, British Columbia.

At the annual Sports Star of the Year award in Seattle, the Keith Jackson Award is now given at the to a member of the media for excellence in communicating the sports stories of Washington state.

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