Keith Jackson, Legendary 'Voice of College Football,' Dies at 89


The man who made that saying popular and did it nearly regularly during college football games has died.

The Rose Bowl named their radio and television spaces after Jackson in 2015. Jackson is also believed to have nicknamed Michigan Stadium "The Big House". Though to hear him tell it, he shouldn't have been. "It's unbelievable how it's hung on".

In a Fox Sports interview in 2013, Jackson said his folksy language stemmed from his rural upbringing in Georgia and he became comfortable with the usage through the years. Of an undersize player, he might say, "He's a little-bitty thing, a bantam rooster. Whoa, Nellie!' And it's kind of stuck to the little old scruffy kid kind of following him around".

It was college football, though, that set him apart.

"He said, 'Never be afraid to turn a phrase". He passed away Friday night, according to multiple reports.

He presided over games with a rumbling baritone, a distinctive speaking rhythm, a trace of a Southern accent and a string of colloquialisms that made a Keith Jackson broadcast sound like no other. "It is not to be used by some fat-butted announcer trying to make a name for himself".

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Jackson began calling college football games for ABC Sports when it acquired the broadcast rights for NCAA football in 1966. "His impact will live on forever".

In 2009, he was inducted into the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame. "Can close my eyes and think of so many of his special calls".

Rest in peace, Keith Jackson, and thanks for all of the memories. Jackson got his start on the radio in 1952, broadcasting Washington State games. He also was the first play-by-play man for ABC's Monday Night Football, sharing a booth with Howard Cosell and Don Meredith.

" He, however, always maintained that he might have used the phrase a time or two early in his career but that mostly it was the work of impersonators, primarily Roy Firestone, who were responsible for the spread of the phrase".

Though initially set to retire after the 1998 season, Jackson returned the following year and stayed on with ABC Sports through the 2006 Rose Bowl.

ESPN, the sister Disney company to ABC where Jackson spent much of his career, confirmed the death with his family. The greatest games in the Big Ten were carried along by his voice especially the rivalry of the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Wolverines of MI.