Legendary Broadcaster Keith Jackson Has Passed Away


Astute ABC via Getty Images)KEITH JACKSON

Keith Jackson, the folksy voice of college football who for decades weaved backwoods wit through Saturday afternoon ABC broadcasts, has died.

"Keith Jackson is a man of great character and a legendary broadcaster", former ESPN president George Bodenheimer said at the time of Jackson's retirement (via ESPN).

Jackson's voice often emulated the energy of a particular event or the momentum of a game-changing play. Keith was a true gentleman and memorable presence. He is survived by his wife of 63 years, Turi Ann.

A fixture on ABC's college football broadcasts for more than a half-century, Jackson was known for punctuating calls with his signature, "Whoa, Nellie!" or homespun phrasing such as linemen being "big uglies in the trenches". He is credited with nicknaming the Rose Bowl as "The Granddaddy of them All" and Michigan Stadium as "The Big House". Besides college football, he worked college and pro basketball games, major-league baseball, auto racing and the Summer and Winter Olympics.

Although he always had broadcasting aspirations, practicing calls to imaginary games, he finally got his chance at an actual broadcast while attending Washington State.

"I would go around and pluck things off the bush and see if I could find a different way to say some things". His final game in a 52-year career was, fittingly, one of the greatest college football games of all time.

The sports world, including Jackson's alma mater, Washington State University, were quick to mourn him. In 1964, he moved to ABC Radio West as sports director and continued freelance work with ABC Sports before becoming full-time in 1966. It's fair to wonder if his relationship with college football is the most synonymous of any announcer and sport in American television history.

Jackson was named national sportscaster of the year five times, the Daily News reported.

Mr. Jackson rose above that incident, later winning an Emmy and being inducted into two sportscasting halls of fame.

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