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Keith Jackson, iconic college football announcer, dies at 89

14 January 2018

As former quarterback Bob Griese, Jackson's color commentator for many years, recalled it: "At our first game, he said to me, 'All right, what do you want to do?' I said: 'You're the guy who's been here".

But he was back in the booth in the fall of 1999, lured by the network with a promise of keeping him close to his home near Los Angeles by restricting his assignments to the Pacific time zone. "I haven't used it - I never did use it much - and I haven't used it in a long time". "I don't know how that thing got hung on me".

He graduated with a degree in broadcast journalism and spent 10 years at ABC affiiate KOMO-TV, Seattle, doing new sports and products, first in radio, then television.

Strangers in restaurants, airports, stadium parking lots and downtown streets would sidle up to Mr. Jackson and bellow, "Whoa, Nellie!". "When I was a boy, we didn't have all this pro stuff", he said in 2009.

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Jackson grew up near Carrollton, Ga., picking cotton and plowing his poor family's farm.

The sport he is most identified with by far was college football and for years his voice on a telecast meant it was the day's biggest matchup. The ABC Sports broadcasting legend was 89. His broadcasting philosophy was a simple one: "Amplify, clarify and punctuate, and let the viewer draw his or her own conclusion".

Jackson was flawless 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.

When asked what he'd remember about Jackson he told SportsCenter: 'That big smiling face, and just the thrill and the love he had for doing college football'.

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It was college football, though, that set him apart. "You're Mr. College Football'".

Critics said Jackson went too far as a booster of college football, looking past its scandals and controversies, such as not compensating players for the money their play brought in for their schools. He lasted one season before he was replaced by Frank Gifford, a memory that still stung Jackson later in life.

His final game was the classic 2006 Rose Bowl between USC and Texas when Vince Young scored on fourth-and-5 in the final seconds near the goal line to win a national title for the Longhorns.

"Having a hard time finding the right words to express what the icon Keith Jackson meant to me personally, MI football and CFB, in general", former MI receiver Desmond Howard, now a football announcer himself, wrote on Twitter.

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Keith Jackson, iconic college football announcer, dies at 89