Keith Jackson, legendary voice of college football, dies at age 89

Keith Jackson, legendary voice of college football, dies at age 89

Keith Jackson, legendary voice of college football, dies at age 89

Jackson, the unmistakable, unique voice of ABC's college football broadcasts, as well as Monday Night Football in its early days, left us at age 89 on Friday night.

"For generations of fans, Keith Jackson was college football", Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger said in a statement.

Jackson also gave us the term "Big Uglies" for the offensive linemen who toil in the trenches and nicknamed Michigan Stadium "The Big House".

Jackson died surrounded by his family, according to NBC Sports' Todd Harris.

Jackson is survived by his wife, Turi Ann, three children, Melanie, Lindsay, and Christopher, and three grandchildren.

'Keith covered games I played in and we worked together at ABC Sports for decades.

Broyles said Jackson's long-term association with college football has been a key for the game's growth on television.

Nevertheless, his voice will forever be the soundtrack of such memorable contests as the 2006 BCS National Championship Game between USC and Texas as well as the classic duel between rivals Miami and Florida State in 1991, among countless others.

Jackson was born in Roopville, Georgia, in 1928 and graduated from Washington State University in 1954.

He also worked 10 Olympics, World Series, auto racing and traveled to 31 countries for ABC's "Wide World of Sports".

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Jackson has been widely regarded as "the voice of college football" after spending 52 years as a broadcaster - 40 of those years at ABC Sports.

Jackson retired the booth following the 2005 season.

"Every time I talk to Keith, I try to change his mind about retiring and tell him he can't do it because college football needs him", Broyles said. Jackson joined ABC Radio West in 1964 and ABC Sports in 1966.

Desmond Howard, who returned a punt for a touchdown at MI in one of Jackson's best-known calls, tweeted that he had a hard time expressing how much Jackson meant to him, his alma mater and college football.

The greatest broadcasters have the knack for marrying their narration to the moment without stepping all over it, and this was Jackson's special gift.

Keith Jackson (center) receiving a Touchdown Club award in 1978.

Jackson has done more to lend his voice to college football's history over the years before and after his retirement from broadcasting.

He said he had a mule named Pearl while growing up on a Georgia farm but attributed the expression to his great-grandfather Jefferson Davis Robison, who evidently plowed many a field holding the reins of a mule. "Thank you for the lessons KJ".

In addition to college football, Jackson was the first play-by-play anchor for Monday Night Football in 1970.

"I was with Keith, but really I was just a sidekick, while Keith was the star of the show", Broyles said. Jackson is also in the National Sportscasters Association Hall of Fame, the NSSA Hall of Fame and the Southern California Sports Broadcasters Hall of Fame.

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