Sportscaster Keith Jackson, Legendary Voice of US College Football, Dead at 89

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AP Images
Keith Jackson in the booth for a Nebraska-California football game in September 1999.

In four decades at ABC, the Georgia native also did the first season of ‘Monday Night Football,’ 10 Olympics, World Series games — and log-rolling.

Keith Jackson, the sonorous voice of college football on ABC whose folksy, rumbling,’ stumblin’ descriptions of the game made him a favorite of viewers for decades, has died. He was 89.

Jackson, who did play-by-play on the inaugural season of Monday Night Football before giving way to Frank Gifford, died late Friday night, his family told ESPN.

The Georgia native, who spent four decades with ABC, retired after the 1999 Fiesta Bowl but returned to the college football booth the following fall, mostly sticking close to his home on the West Coast. His last broadcast assignment was a doozy, the 2006 Rose Bowl game in which Texas, led by quarterback Vince Young, downed undefeated USC to bring home the national championship.

Jackson was the first to coin the University of Michigan’s 112,000-seat stadium “The Big House,” and he referred to the Rose Bowl game — which he did for many years on New Year’s Day — as “The Granddaddy of Them All.”

With his drawl and homespun style, Jackson was a warm, comfortable addition to America’s living rooms, coming to you each autumn from such fabled college outposts as Tuscaloosa, Ala., Lincoln, Neb., and Happy Valley in Pennsylvania.

(Before he was exposed nationally Jackson was sports director at KOMO Channe 4 Seattle, and also did a season or two of baseball playbyplay on KOMO Radio, in partnership with Bill Schonley.)

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3 COMMENTS

  1. In my unprofessional opinion Mr. Jackson was one of the Best Sports Announcers with one of the Best Voices in Sports Broadcasting History.

    He combined Professionalism, Football Knowledge, Excitement, and the Strong Voice far far better than most. I am quite sure that many many upcoming Sports Broadcasters learned a lot from his Flawless Work over the years!

    RIP

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