Friday, 16 November, 2018

Keith Jackson, Legendary 'Voice of College Football,' Dies at 89

Jackson worked for ABC Sports for 50 years. More Jackson worked for ABC Sports for 50 years. More
Kristopher Love | 14 January, 2018, 12:52

Over the years, listening to Jackson call a game was more and more like having someone tell us a story, and we could not wait to hear what happened next.

"For generations of fans, Keith Jackson was college football", Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger said in a statement. "He's told me that he won't change his mind, but I'm still hopeful that he will come back and keep doing the games".

The legendary broadcaster called some of the biggest college games in history and his signature "Whoa Nellie" became a world wide catch phrase. He was the first play-by-play man of Monday Night Football. Jackson called 10 Olympics, and also called MLB, NBA and college basketball games.

In 1987, Sports Illustrated chronicled some of Jackson's most popular descriptions. "You're Mr. College Football'". "For now, I just need to stay on top of it and have to stay fit", McIlroy said. At the Big House. Keith was a true gentleman and memorable presence.

Jackson was the down-to-earth announcer that appealed to the common fan. While still coaching, he did the Texas-Texas A&M game with Chris Schenkel in 1974, when Arkansas' season was over.

He had first announced his retirement in 1998 but returned to work.

"The NCAA can make anybody cynical", Jackson once told Sports Illustrated.

But until that point in 2006 when he finally shucked his headset for good, if you switched on the TV on an autumn Saturday and heard Jackson's modified Georgia twang you were certain there was straw on the floor of his broadcast booth and a milk cow standing next to him. "Well, we had a mule in Georgia, but her name was Pearl".

Similar to his recently deceased broadcasting colleague Dick Enberg, Jackson defined versatility. It was always about the kids on the field.

Jackson might be best known for his "Whoa, Nelly!" exclamation, but he didn't overuse it.

Probably not since, if I couldn't bring myself to do something as basic as say hello, what could I possibly inquire of him that wouldn't have sounded painfully awkward?

Jackson cut his teeth announcing for Washington State, then the University of Washington before being the first American to broadcast from the Soviet Union. "He said his part of it was secondary, that he was just a tool in the process".

To Jackson, linemen were not guards and tackles, they were "the big uglies". I once held open a door for him at the Superdome.

Broyles said a change in ABC ownership resulted in a decision to replace him as color commentator before the 1986 season. "But I'm not. It's still fun to see new generations enjoy the game peaceably". He was with ABC for 40 of those years.

At other times, he expressed frustration about his close association with "Whoa, Nellie!" and said his broadcast partner, former professional quarterback Bob Griese, liked the expression more.

Like Broyles and Jackson used to do.