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Legendary college football sports announcer Keith Jackson dies at 89

14 January, 2018, 11:39 | Author: Heidi Alvarez
  • Legendary college football sports announcer Keith Jackson dies at 89

The Voice of College Football is gone. "All professional sports of any outcome were located in the big cities in the north, so those of us who enjoyed the game of football followed college football".

But none of that was the first thing that came to mind on Saturday when word circulated that he had died at 89.

That's college football. That's where Jackson took us all.

With the exception of baseball and Vin Scully, never have a sport and a play-by-play voice been better suited to one another than Jackson and college football. He and Celtics legend Bill Russell called National Basketball Association games on ABC for four years.

Desmond Howard, who returned a punt for a touchdown at MI in one of Jackson's best-known calls, tweeted that he had a hard time expressing how much Jackson meant to him, his alma mater and college football. Jackson joined ABC Radio West in 1964 and ABC Sports in 1966. We didn't just grow up with him: We lived with him, and he lived with us in those living rooms, newsrooms and sports bars, every fall, in places like Tuscaloosa, South Bend, Lincoln and Ann Arbor. He was withering in his analysis of college football's endless money suck - at his alma mater, too - and warned of "all kinds of cracks and crevices" threatening to swallow up the sport.

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

But Jackson's major interest was always college football.

Several of his trademark phrases survived his retirement, and now will survive him. Hulking offensive linemen were "the big uglies down in the trenches".

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He made some of his most famous calls at Michigan Stadium which he helped dub "The Big House".

In 1958, Jackson was part of a pioneer moment at the intersection of politics and sports. On the last Monday in October, the University of Michigan's beloved radio play-by-play voice of 36 years, Bob Ufer, died of cancer. He had broadcast 15 Rose Bowls. He knew the game going way back, and respected its principals - and not just legends.

Jackson spent 50 years working for ABC covering a wide variety of sports, but was best known as ABC's voice of college football. As Paterno said, "You always know it's a big game when Keith is there".

"We found out that we had played an American Legion baseball game against each other in Georgia when we were both growing up", Broyles said. The USFL? The AFL?

He would end up calling three World Series (1977, 1979, 1981), three All-Star games (1978, 1980, 1982), two NLCS (1980, 1986), and three ALCS (1976, 1978, 1982).

But it all seemed beside the point on Saturday. Each year the Seattle sports celebration honors a media member with an award named for him. But, I thought then, and still do, one that said a lot about Jackson the man. For one section of the country, he sounded exactly like college football.

Broyles was well-known for coaching the Razorbacks from 1958-76, but he said Jackson couldn't go anywhere on a game weekend without being recognized.

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