This video is hosted by ABC’s legendary voice of college football, Keith Jackson, as he recaps the 1984 game between coach Joe Paterno’s # 4 ranked Penn State Nittany Lions verses coach Fred Akers # 2 ranked Texas Longhorns….in which the Horns stampeded the Nittany Lions by a score of 28 – 3….as Jackson summarizes the game and covers Texas coach Fred Akers postgame locker room speech to his team….however, we want to take this opportunity to showcase the life and career of truly one of the greatest sportscaster to ever cover college football, Keith Jackson.
Keith Jackson (October 18, 1928 – January 12, 2018) was an American sports commentator, journalist, author and radio personality….who was known for his 40 year career behind the mike of college football games with ABC Sports from 1966 – 2006.
While he covered a variety of sports over his career….he is best known for his coverage of college football from 1952 until 2006….along with his distinctive Southern-drawl voice….with its deep cadence and operatic tone considered “like Edward R. Murrow reporting on World War II, the voice of ultimate authority in college football.”
Though best known for his college football broadcasts, Jackson announced numerous other sports for ABC throughout his career….including Major League Baseball, NBA basketball, boxing, auto racing, PGA Tour golf, the USFL, and the Olympic Games….as he also worked college basketball with Dick Vitale. Jackson also served as the pregame, halftime, and postgame anchor for ABC’s coverage of Super Bowl XXII in 1988. During his on-air tenure, he is credited with nicknaming the Rose Bowl as “The Grandaddy of them All” and Michigan Stadium as “The Big House”.
For all his success, he received the most acclaim for his coverage of college football. He genuinely enjoyed the sport and the purity of it…..as Jackson began announcing college football when television play-by-play announcers did not always have regular analysts…..and he would only once miss working a college season in his over 50 years….when he served as play-by-play announcer during the inaugural season of Monday Night Football beginning in 1952. Jackson was joined in the booth by Joe Paterno for the 1974 Michigan-Ohio State game in Columbus….while Woody Hayes accompanied him for the 1974 Notre Dame-USC game.
In his many years covering college football, Jackson was paired with a wide variety of color commentators, including Jackie Jensen (1966–1967), Lee Grosscup (1972–1973), Bud Wilkinson (1969–1975), Ara Parseghian (1975–1980), Frank Broyles (1978–1985), Lynn Swann (1984–1985), Tim Brant (1986, 2001–2002), Bob Griese (1987–1999) and Dan Fouts(2002–2005). Jackson called 16 Sugar Bowls and 15 Rose Bowls during his time at ABC.
For many years, he was assigned by ABC to the primary national game of the week. His quirky expressions such as “Whoa, Nellie!”, “Fum-BLE!” and “Hold the phonnnnne!” are often the subject of comedic imitation. Though he greatly popularized it, Jackson notes that he learned the term “Whoa, Nellie” from earlier television announcer Dick Lane. He has often referred to offensive and defensive line players as the Big Uglies…..or to an individual by saying “That guy…is a hoss” (horse). Jackson is also credited with coining the nickname for Michigan Stadium, The Big House…..and in the season before his first retirement, during what was thought to be his final game at The Big House, the Michigan Marching Band’s halftime show concluded by spelling out “Thanks Keith” across the field. The 111,019 fans turned toward the press box, stood up and cheered for the commentator.
During the mid-’80s, he began falling out of favor with ABC executives due to the rise of stars such as Al Michaels and Jim Lampley…..when Jackson’s contract expired after the 1986 Sugar Bowl…..as he had a 3-month “retirement” until new ABC Sports President Dennis Swanson personally offered him a 3-year contract, which he accepted.
Jackson would call the 1972 USC Trojans football team the greatest team he ever saw….and Jackson, who was in his first year in ABC football broadcasting narrating the taped highlights of the 1967 USC vs. UCLA football game, declared it many years later to be the greatest game he has ever seen.