The voice of college football passed away at the age of 89.
Keith Jackson, the college football legend and a titan of broadcast television, has died at the age of 89, per his family.
Jackson’s career spanned decades for ABC in which he called nearly every sport you can think of. But at his best and most poignant, Jackson was the voice of Saturday afternoon college football during the season and the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day (which he nicknamed “The Granddaddy Of Them All.”) His final telecast was the 2006 Rose Bowl, regarded by many as the best game of all time. Those who worked with him spoke to SB Nation about that night earlier this season.
“That was the tough part about the assignment, because here is the greatest college football — the voice of college football,” Fouts said. “This was gonna be his last game. The thing about it was, it may have been his best game ever, too. He was all over it. He was perfect that night.”
Jackson was notable for calls like his famous “fumble,” with drawn out excitement, and his “woah, nellie” will live in the hearts and ears of so many. The Roopville, Georgia native explained where that came from.
Jackson’s last televised appearance came on New Year’s Day 2017 at the Rose Bowl. As fitting a setting as any.
People loved his endless wit and wisdom …
“Danny Wuerffel is the kind of guy who would sneak into your house and steal your favorite hat.” RIP Keith Jackson.
— Joe Posnanski (@JPosnanski) January 13, 2018
“Oooooh he hung him out there like underwear on a wash line.”
— Tim Ring (@timringTV) January 13, 2018
Very sad to hear Keith Jackson died last night. The favorite of all college football fans — “A big hoss of a man,” “fumbullllllll!” — and mine personally. A big help on my book with Bo Schembechler, and a friendly email correspondent for years. A true icon — and good guy.
— John U. Bacon (@Johnubacon) January 13, 2018
“It’ll take a full load, and a heavy frost to slow him down!” Keith Jackson was the best, RIP. https://t.co/FLukTgF5CZ
— Mack Collier (@MackCollier) January 13, 2018
— Mac Engel (@MacEngelProf) January 13, 2018
His PxP Mission Statement:
“Amplifie, Clarifie, Punctuate, and stay the hell out of the way”
Absolutely loved his presentation. And like all those talents of a certain age, quite a life/career path…
— Daryl Reaugh (@Razor5Hole) January 13, 2018
“The one thing you can’t ever forget: The playing field is the property of the players and the coaches. It is not to be used by some fat-butted announcer trying to make a name for himself.” — Keith Jackson
— Adam Silverstein (@SilversteinAdam) January 13, 2018
College football broadcasting legend Keith Jackson has passed away at the age of 89
— Troy Hughes™ (@TommySledge) January 13, 2018
… and beloved catch phrases …
our baby daughter’s name is Nell and I definitely at least once a day yell out in a poor Keith Jackson impersonation Whoaa Nellie! RIP.
— Brendan Porath (@BrendanPorath) January 13, 2018
Keith Jackson. Never another like him. Helloooo, Heaven.
— Joe Davis (@Joe_Davis) January 13, 2018
“Whoa, Nellie” Coined the term “Big House.” Please add to Keith Jackson’s great list of accomplishments here …
— Dennis Dodd (@dennisdoddcbs) January 13, 2018
Rest easy, Keith Jackson.
The true Grandaddy of them All.
— Mark Trible (@Mtrible) January 13, 2018
… and the fact that his presence alone signified a big game.
It’s been over 10 years since Keith Jackson’s final call. But whenever I see a Big game or moment I wonder “how would Keith have a called it” that’s how you know Jackson was special.
— Nubyjas Wilborn (@nwilborn19) January 13, 2018
I have so many great memories of Keith Jackson calling games. He made college football so exciting. As a kid, I always new it was such a big game if Jackson was calling it. RIP https://t.co/44Bz4iz79Y
— Derek Tyson (@DerekJTyson) January 13, 2018
Keith Jackson voiced the soundtrack to so many great games of my childhood. He made every game feel like everything was on the line. A broadcasting icon lost.#WhoaNellie
— Cole Cubelic (@colecubelic) January 13, 2018
This makes me sad. I grew up with Keith Jackson’s voice being synonymous with big football games. RIP one of the greatest. Those of us “On the banks of the Olentannnnngy” will remember you fondly. https://t.co/H3eIINqZsb
— Dr. Dave Stukus (@AllergyKidsDoc) January 13, 2018
There are storytellers, and then there’s Keith Jackson. What a talent when it came to setting the scene for a big game. You will be missed.
— James Cybulski (@JamesCybulski) January 13, 2018
Growing up I wanted to be Keith Jackson. He always treated every game he called like it was the most important he would ever call. Very sad to hear of his passing.
— Mike Ferrin (@Mike_Ferrin) January 13, 2018
RIP. When Keith Jackson was on the call you knew it was a big game. Legend. https://t.co/a8aHdeJ0IA
— John Sears (@johnsears) January 13, 2018
Many are sharing memories of specific moments.
We are saddened to hear of Keith Jackson’s passing.
An absolute icon, he was the Voice of the Rose Bowl and so many #B1G moments.
His calls, including this one, will live on forever. pic.twitter.com/zbE01ZxSfn
— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) January 13, 2018
Keith Jackson’s monologue about Pullman at the beginning of this gets me every time https://t.co/G9SrHxrlrA
— Brian Floyd (@BrianMFloyd) January 13, 2018
Keith Jackson was the voice I first associated with CFB growing up. Hello Heisman. Calling UCLA-USC games. Rose Bowls. Of course USC-Texas. Flavor, grace, passion….just the best. Rest well good sir. Thank you.
— Evan Barnes (@evan_b) January 13, 2018
— Marshall Ferguson (@TSN_Marsh) January 13, 2018
This is so sad. #KeithJackson was one of the all time great voices in my life.
Had a beverage with him before a Bedlam Football game in Stillwater that he was broadcasting. #GreatStoryTeller https://t.co/Nm78YwqHtf
— Jim Ross (@JRsBBQ) January 13, 2018
Miracle in Michigan is one of Keith Jackson’s greatest calls – I’ve listened to it over 1000 times. RIP to a legend.https://t.co/ZIJsDzQPeW
— Mike McCartney (@MikeMcCartney7) January 13, 2018
Remember when the 1995 Northwestern team actually felt real? It was when Keith Jackson came to Evanston to call NU-Penn State. https://t.co/BDDxtR0mjR
— Brian Sandalow (@BrianSandalow) January 13, 2018
Keith Jackson will go down as one of the legendary play-by-play voices in all of sports
It was only fitting that he had the call for “one of the great games in a great Wisconsin football history.”https://t.co/mCwjjF8oHA
— Wisconsin Football (@BadgerFootball) January 13, 2018
“It’s Jackson. He’s gone! Touchdown. 42 yards. They’re gonna be penalized for celebrating, but right now, they don’t give a hoot about that.” — Keith Jacksonhttps://t.co/2tKA302Riw
— OnlyGators.com Florida Gators news (@onlygators) January 13, 2018
Sad to hear the news of legend Keith Jackson passing. I’ll never forget growing up in Columbus, OH playing football in the backyard only to run in to listen to his iconic voice call the @OhioStateFB vs. @UMichFootball.
— Brady Quinn (@3rd_Goal) January 13, 2018
What a pleasure it was listening to Keith Jackson. The voice of my childhood watching Pac 10 games and the Rose Bowl. https://t.co/HEnNmeataG
— Geoff Schwartz (@geoffschwartz) January 13, 2018
When Keith came back I remember he primarily called PAC-10 games and I’d always get upset when I’d be stuck with a Big 12 regional game in the 1:30 slot over hearing the iconic Keith Jackson.
— Mitch Harper (@Mitch_Harper) January 13, 2018
Sad to hear about the passing of #KeithJackson. Honored to have played in games that he called back in the ‘90’s. Such a great guy to talk to and so knowledgeable about the game and players
— Matt Finkes (@MattFinkes) January 13, 2018
Keith Jackson was my favorite football broadcaster growing up as a kid. Some of my first memories of watching football was Keith Jackson calling the Rose Bowl. #RIPKeithJackson
— Mark the Overseer (@MarkoftheBuzz) January 13, 2018
RIP to Keith Jackson…he was the first thing I thought about walking into the @rosebowlgame this year. What a legend. Prayers to his family.
— Anthony Dasher (@AnthonyDasher1) January 13, 2018
He’ll be remembered as one of our greatest broadcasters, period …
The mark of a life well lived is the impact you have on others. We all loved Keith Jackson through a screen. Those who worked with him told me that the man lived up to the billing in real life. https://t.co/5ycPp1zfei
— Richard Johnson (@RJ_Writes) January 13, 2018
Two legends lost in less than a month. Dick Enberg, now Keith Jackson.
Irreplaceable voices. #RIP
— Bonnie Bernstein (@BonnieBernstein) January 13, 2018
I once saw Keith Jackson at the airport and that’s literally one of my favorite memories. I couldn’t love a broadcaster more. His voice. His enthusiasm. My love of sports. We lost a good one today
— Amy Hollyfield (@amy_hollyfield) January 13, 2018
He’s best known for CFB, but Keith Jackson called many other memorable moments. 1st MNF game, Jets-Browns 1970. ’76 ALCS, Chambliss HR vs KC’s Mark Littell. ’78 ALCS Dent HR vs Torrez. ’77 WS Game 6, Reggie 3 HRs. ’72 Olympics, Spitz 7 Golds. ’80 Olympics, Heiden 5 Golds. RIP.
— Joey Wahler (@JoeyWahler) January 13, 2018
RIP Keith Jackson. He’s on my Mt. Rushmore of sports broadcasters.
— Paul Oren (@NWIOren) January 13, 2018
I put Keith Jackson right up there with the great Vin Scully as my two favorite tv sports announcers of all time. Both simply legendary. #ripkeithjackson
— Anthony Dasher (@AnthonyDasher1) January 13, 2018
Of course, Keith Jackson was the voice of college football, but he called some big baseball games too, including Bucky Dent’s homer and the Mets-Astros epic in 1986.
— Tom Gulitti (@TomGulittiNHL) January 13, 2018
I loved Keith Jackson’s voice. I used to listen & concentrate on his cadence. The soundtrack to my childhood (my parents were big college football fans…they’d watch, I’d read a book, listening, always listening) #RIPKeithJackson
— Laura Lorson (@prairielaura) January 13, 2018
… but will last forever as the all-but-official voice of a single sport.
The voice of college football and so much more has left us. My mentor and dear friend, Keith Jackson passed last night surrounded by his family. Truly one of the greats in the broadcasting industry. I am grateful for my time with a true legend. Thank you for the lessons KJ. pic.twitter.com/SPGIZXrZNA
— Todd Harris (@TheToddHarris) January 13, 2018
Keith basically is the audio DNA of the sport for me and always will be and it’s a little hard to hear his voice without seeing Pasadena in my head
— BUM CHILLUPS (@edsbs) January 13, 2018
THE voice of college football and one of the most iconic voices of all time, RIP Keith Jackson. Thank you for all of the incredible Saturday’s.
— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) January 13, 2018
Keith Jackson was, and will always be, one of the sounds of college football. He brought joy and character to the game, especially the Granddaddy of them all: The Rose Bowl
Thank you, and RIP.
— Jennifer Lee Chan (@jenniferleechan) January 13, 2018
When I was a kid, I’m pretty sure I thought Keith Jackson was the President of College Football.
— Ira Schoffel (@IraSchoffel) January 13, 2018
think about how much of the overall aesthetic of college football is tied to keith jackson’s voice. he was that important.
— El Flaco (@bomani_jones) January 13, 2018
— Tim Brown (@81TimBrown) January 13, 2018
There’s no separating my formative college football watching from Keith Jackson.
I liked watching whatever was on, but it was all just a mess of ridiculous athletes, cool, shiny helmets, and Keith both being chill and excited about games. RIP, he’s our guy.
— Dan Rubenstein (@DanRubenstein) January 13, 2018
RIP to a broadcasting legend.. No voice will ever sound and feel more like college football than Keith Jackson’s. https://t.co/HzcQwOFAw7
— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) January 13, 2018
Just heard the news that everyone’s favorite CFB broadcaster Keith Jackson passed away last night. Can close my eyes and think of so many of his special calls. Thank you Keith for all the memories and the grace in which you provided them. RIP Keith. #GOAT
— Kirk Herbstreit (@KirkHerbstreit) January 13, 2018
Keith Jackson was my childhood. Sitting there watching college football with my grandfather and hearing his voice.
— Jack Jorgensen (@JackJorgensen14) January 13, 2018
Back in 1999 when I wrote my first book, I asked Keith Jackson to write the foreword. He immediately said yes. He is, and will always be, THE VOICE of the game we all love. RIP, Keith. Heaven got a great one.
— Tony Barnhart (@MrCFB) January 13, 2018
Hearing the voice of Keith Jackson instantly brought to mind college football. He was a true gentleman and a transcendent broadcaster
— Brian Webber (@bwwebber) January 13, 2018
— Cam Cleeland (@CamCleeland) January 13, 2018
RIP Keith Jackson. You were the dean of my college football education in the 1970s. #WhoaNelly
— John Carvalho (@John_P_Carvalho) January 13, 2018
— Ed Werder (@EdwerderRFA) January 13, 2018
Ugh. RIP Keith Jackson. What a loss. His voice IS college football. First Dick Enberg, now this. The voices of my sports childhood.
— Levi Damien (@LeviDamien) January 13, 2018
Keith Jackson’s Voice on Saturday afternoons in the fall, nothing better. #RIPIP
— Big Cat (@BarstoolBigCat) January 13, 2018
Another US sports broadcasting great has passed away. When Keith Jackson spoke, you wouldn’t mix him up with anyone else. Voice of college football for so many.https://t.co/DeZDRXhi8L
— Derek Rae (@RaeComm) January 13, 2018
Impossible for me, and legions of people around my age, to think of college football and not instantly hear Keith Jackson’s voice. RIP
— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) January 13, 2018
— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) January 13, 2018
Keith Jackson saying “Nebraska” or “Alabama” was Saturday afternoon defined. https://t.co/GBILH1kmKf
— Owen Good (@owengood) January 13, 2018
Incredibly saddened to hear the loss of a broadcasting legend, the voice of college football across the Country, and WSU Cougar great, Keith Jackson. His impact will live on forever. #RIP #GoCougs pic.twitter.com/iROnEOWOcZ
— WSU Cougar Football (@wsucougfb) January 13, 2018