Keith Jackson, 'voice of college football,' dies at 89

Keith Jackson, 'voice of college football,' dies at 89

Legendary college football announcer Keith Jackson died Friday at 89.

Keith Jackson, the voice of college football for more than a half-century, has died. Over his 40 year ABC career, Jackson became known as the preeminent play-by-play voice of the biggest college football games over the years. Keith was a true gentleman and a memorable presence.

Jackson spent 55 years as the authoritative voice on college football, including 41 years with ABC Sports.

Jackson, who retired in 2006, was known for his colorful commentary and coined phrases like "Whoa, Nellie", "Big Uglies" and for nicknaming the Rose Bowl "The Granddaddy of Them All". Jackson has spanned the globe to announce a wide variety of sports, including boxing, swimming, golf, arm-wrestling, basketball, baseball, auto racing and 10 Olympic Games. The final game he broadcast from Pasadena was the 2006 game in which Texas rallied to defeat USC for the national title.

Jackson was ideal for the casual fan and while he was the first voice of ABC Monday Night Football with Don Meredith and Howard Cosell it was not his style.

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.

Jackson met his wife at Washington State University and the couple had three children. The visitors won 14-13 when the Cougar holder fumbled the snap for the extra point.

After four years in the U.S. Marine Corps, he studied broadcasting at Washington State University and covered the school's football games starting in 1952.

To many, Keith Jackson was one of the voices of their childhood and I am no different. People said I had a mule in Georgia named Nellie.

Jackson initially announced his retirement in 1998, but continued to work a lighter schedule. Some call it the greatest college football game ever.

Jackson was inducted into the American Sportscasters Hall of Fame in 1994.

Jackson was a longtime resident of Sherman Oaks, California, and Pender Harbor, British Columbia.