Keith Jackson Always Found the Words

Keith Jackson, the legendary voice of college football, has died at 89, according to multiple reports.

For over half a century, Jackson was the soundtrack to the sport’s biggest moments. His folksy charm and natural rhythm were welcome Saturday companions. It never felt like he was trying too hard or that he needed to make himself bigger than the game.

Jackson’s brilliance was always finding the words — sometimes specific (Hello, Heisman) sometimes vague (Whoa, Nellie). He brought gravitas to the present and let it breathe. The way he called fumbles made it feel as though time was standing still and would never move again. It was a gift.

His memorable play-by-play calls are multiple but, for my money, none encapsulates what he did well more than Kordell Stewart’s Miracle at Michigan. Jackson previews what could happen, rises to the moment when it does, and then allows silence to speak volumes.

His words in the aftermath are precise and powerful. They always were.


The Big Lead