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Keith Jackson, 'voice of college football,' dies at 89
14 January 2018, 12:49 | Andy Ferguson
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Bob Griese, who was Jackson's long-time broadcast partner on college football games starting in 1985, was asked what he would remember about him. After graduation, Jackson worked for KOMO-AM and KOMO-TV. In 2009, he was inducted into the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame. He worked in radio and television before joining ABC Sports in 1966.
In a Fox Sports interview in 2013, Jackson said his folksy language stemmed from his rural upbringing in Georgia and he became comfortable with the usage through the years.
Not to brag or anything, but I was a great college football player.
Quite honestly, when the man who made "Whoa, Nelly!" and "the big uglies" sound nearly Shakespearean began pondering the sport's direction, we all could have done a better job of listening.
Jackson graduated from WSU in 1954 and had a luxurious career, calling 15 Rose Bowls, 10 Olympics, MLB playoffs, the National Basketball Association and Monday Night Football; among many other events.
Jackson also doubts he used it a couple of times or twice in a broadcast, but it was made more famous by those impersonating him. But it goes beyond the homegrown sayings and every college football fan's impression of Jackson over the past fifty-plus years. He was the first play-by-play man of Monday Night Football.
Because Jackson let college football seep into him, it seeped into the rest of us, too.
It was only fitting that the greatest college football broadcaster to ever live would have the pleasure of presiding over the call of the greatest college football game I've ever seen. In 1972 Mark Spitz won seven gold medals in swimming, and in 1980 Eric Heiden won five individual gold medals in speedskating.
Jackson explained that a lot of his catch phrases were picked up on the farm while he was spending time with his grandparents as a child.
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.
At the end of two contracts - after the 1986 and 1998 seasons - Jackson believed he was headed to retirement, but within months, and without missing a college football assignment, he re-signed with ABC.
The college football world lost its most prominent voice on Friday night. That game was the last one Jackson called. He retired in 2006 after 50 years offering play-by-play in his unique cadence, which was more like a drawl. He enjoyed a minor career as an actor, often playing himself or a sportscaster.
Sportscaster Keith Jackson attends the 66th Annual Directors Guild Of America Awards held at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza on January 25, 2014 in Century City, California. He most famous sayings were "Whoa, Nellie", and his Rose Bowl tag "The 'Grandaddy of Them All".
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