As a youngster, I was lucky enough to be exposed early and often to the unparalleled experience of listening to Keith Jackson call a college football game. While I was too young to fully appreciate this before his first retirement in 1998, even as a shortsighted high school senior I knew well enough to savor every word when he called the classic 2006 USC-Texas title game, his last on the mic.
In the years since, his absence has become as tangible as his presence—while I enjoy, or at least respect, the likes of Brent Musburger, Verne Lundquist, Joe Tessitore, and Sean McDonough, none comes remotely close to capturing the essence of college football as eloquently or charmingly as Jackson. (This is no slight, of course. Legends are not legends if they're easily replaced.)
I thought about Keith Jackson today, oddly enough, after seeing this tweet from Spencer Hall, which on its face has absolutely nothing to do with Keith Jackson:
— edsbs (@edsbs) May 3, 2013
After the initial conniption fit over the existence of such a magnificent name, I actually got sad, because I imagined the possibility of Keith Jackson saying the words "Brodarious Hamm" in his understated, melodic Southern drawl. He'd say it just like any other name—enunciating flawlessly, elongating just the right syllables, leaving plenty of space for the words to breathe—accompanied with a typically Jacksonian turn of phrase: "Tackle made by 310-pound freshman Brooo-darious Hamm. If he keeps eating his cornbread, he'll be man-sized one day."*
This caused me to do three things. The first was to abandon whatever crappy post I was writing at the time. The second—compile a very incomplete list of 2014 recruit names that I wish I could hear Keith Jackson say during the course of a broadcast:
- Lorenzo Featherston
- Kentavius Street
- Bentley Spain
- Raekwon McMillian (and if Jackson called him "The Chef", I would immediately die the world's happiest death)
- Adarius Pickett
- T'Kevian Rockwell
- Malachi Dupre
- Dontavius Blair
- C'yontai Lewis
- Breeland Speaks
(Did I put together this list exclusively by scrolling through Alabama and LSU targets on the 247 database? Well, duh.)
The third, out of curiosity, was check Google to see if a Keith Jackson soundboard existed online, because certainly there must be one. Remarkably, there is not, at least that I can find. This is the first result:
I've never been more disappointed in the Internet.
*The cornbread line is something he said, verbatim (if memory serves), about a 300-pound freshman Texas defensive lineman during that final game. To the very end, Keith still had it, every bit of it. I imagine he still does.