Keith Jackson, folksy voice of college football, dies at 89

Keith Jackson, folksy voice of college football, dies at 89

In a 52-year broadcasting career, Jackson covered a wide-ranging array of sports for radio and TV, including a rowing competition in the former Soviet Union, but he was best known as ABC’s voice of NCAA football — and for the homespun phrases he used in reporting it.

By 1952, Jackson was calling Cougars games on the school station and, after graduating in 1954, went to work at KOMO-TV, a new ABC affiliate in Seattle, combining sports and news broadcasting.

Jackson joined the ABC radio network in 1965, freelancing TV assignments before settling in permanently at ABC when Roone Arledge needed someone to call a parachute-jumping segment for “Wide World of Sports” in 1968.

He was roundly criticized — unfairly, he said — for ignoring an ugly incident late in the 1978 Gator Bowl game, when Ohio State coach Woody Hayes punched Clemson player Charlie Baumann after Baumann had intercepted a pass near the Ohio State sideline.

Besides college football, he worked college and pro basketball games, Major League Baseball, auto racing, Summer and Winter Olympics and, in 1970, was the first play-by-play announcer for NFL’s “Monday Night Football” on ABC.

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