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

Keith Jackson, 'voice of college football,' dies at 89
Posted at 11:17 AM, Jan 13, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-13 07:16:42-05

(RNN) - Legendary college football announcer Keith Jackson died Friday. He was 89 years old.

The Los Angeles Times reported his death Saturday. Friends, associates and fellow members of the industry took to social media to express their sorrow and reminisce on their time with Jackson.

"We lost the Big Hoss this morning," said national sports announcer Tim Brando on Twitter. "Keith Jackson was college football's signature voice. One of my greatest honors was the opportunity to emcee the National Football Foundation Dinner at the Waldorf when he received the coveted Gold Medal. His influence as a broadcaster of all sports is forever."

Sports announcer Todd Harris said his friend and mentor passed away surrounded by his family. 

"Truly one of the greats in the broadcasting industry," Harris said on Twitter. "I am grateful for my time with a true legend. Thank you for the lessons KJ."

Referred to as "the voice of college football," he called games for 50 years with ABC Sports until retiring in 2006. He, and his go-to line of "Whoa Nellie," helped provide play-by-play to many classic matchups, including his final game when Texas defeated USC in a thrilling BCS Championship at the Rose Bowl.

His down-to-earth style and friendly demeanor made him one of the most popular people of all time to call sporting events. 

He is credited with nicknaming the Rose Bowl as "the granddaddy of them all." He attended the 2017 game in Los Angeles, which Sports Illustrated reported was his first since retirement.

He started on radio, broadcasting games for his alma mater, Washington State. He joined ABC in 1966 when it secured the rights to college football coverage but also covered the NFL, NBA, MLB, NASCAR and served as a host on "Wide World of Sports."

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