Another Reason To Clone Keith Jackson Comment Count

Ace May 3rd, 2013 at 2:58 PM

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:

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:

(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.



May 3rd, 2013 at 3:05 PM ^

I can hear him saying those names in my mind as strange as that might sound. Truly was one of the greatest of all time. I liked Pat Summerall as well who we just lost recently.


May 3rd, 2013 at 3:10 PM ^

A question for older fans, who would they prefer, Keith Jackson or Bob Ufer?

I never got to hear either one in their prime, just curious what the rest of the board thinks

Dutch Ferbert

May 3rd, 2013 at 3:20 PM ^

Keith Jackson's voice was golden. His understated excitement is part of what made him great. One of my biggest gripes with Musberger is that he acts like every play is the biggest play ever, instead of just announcing the game. Keith Jackson just told it how it was.

I only had Ufer around for my early years as a UM fan, but his excitement and love for Michigan is what made him great. He was a homer, but I think he was respected outside of UM (maybe some of the older guys know more about this).

To answer your question, I would prefer Keith Jackson for any non-Michigan game, but Ufer for a Michigan game.

Keith Jackson also called a lot of sports outside of football and did an amazing job with those sports as well.


May 3rd, 2013 at 4:25 PM ^

Jackson for anything else.

Normally I'm not a big fan of homers, but Ufer was both completely over the top and on my side. I strongly suspect I'd feel different about him had he done the play by play for Tennessee or Minnesota or Texas or (and I feel dirty even suggesting this) Ohio State.

Jackson, on the other hand, was a true professional and brought the same charm and enthusiasm to every game he covered no matter who was playing.


May 3rd, 2013 at 5:49 PM ^

When I was a kid, every announcer was Ufer-ed over with the radio except Keith jackson.

So both I guess. Most games Ufer, a big game with Jackson (like Rose Bowl). Ufer is better play by play but Jackson could setup the grandiosity like nobody else.


May 4th, 2013 at 8:32 AM ^

since most people on this board were not alive before Ufer died in 1977, he is kind of like Elvis.  A legend, but not one we remember.  I do remember Keith Jackson remarking after a big hit "They heard that one all the way in Ypsilanti" which he pronounced "Yu-ipsilanti" like out of towners pronouse "Saline" like the solution and "Milan" like the city in italy and Dee-Troit.


May 4th, 2013 at 1:40 PM ^

There are a couple of distinctions between the two.

First, as noted, Ufer was an unabased Michigan fan and homer. That was glorious, and made him "one of us." Jackson was always fond of Michigan and Bo, but was a national broadcaster.  IIRC, when he broadcast in later years, he basically was able to cherry pick teams and venues he would agree to do, and Michigan was on that short list.

Second, Ufer worked in the media of radio. What many of you youngsters can't comprehend is that pre-internet and pre-cable TV, you had to go to the game to see it. The fact that Michigan was on ABC several times was a huge thing, and big recruiting help. But if you couldn't watch the game, you had to be somewhere that you could find a radio broadcast. I can indeed remember beautiful Fall days when I couldn't be in Ann Arbor, hearing his voice and the horn coming through the radio. His shtick worked so well for radio and for Michigan fans.

Here's the thing, though. I literally don't know how Ufer would have been as a TV commentator. I don't know that the horn would have worked the same way. His corniness and passion bled through the soundwaves. I know I would have preferred him to most anyone on TV now, but I really have to stick with Keith Jackson for a Michigan game on TV.


May 4th, 2013 at 2:24 PM ^

as a lad i remember listening to ufer announce one of the mich v. ohio games and the 'horseshoe' (ohio's stadium) sat 84,000 at the time.   the quote i remember in that ultra-gravel voice of ufers was:  "there's 84,000 screaming fans here today folks.  10,000 maize and blue supporters, and 74,000 truck drivers!"

what year was it, and for the life of me, was that on a regional telecast, or was it on radio?



Section 1

May 5th, 2013 at 10:43 PM ^

I always thought that line from Ufer was over the top.  Uncalled for.  Like Ufer's ranting about "General Bo Patton Schembechler" defeating Dr. Strangehayes.  The idea of some vision of American military defeating Woody Hayes who was himself a decorated Naval officer and a military historian in an entirely different league from Bob Ufer...

 I liked Ufer's enthusiasm, and I actually think he was a better broadcaster when he was on the little Ann Arbor AM station (WAAM?) before WJR plucked him to do his nutjob routine for a wider regional audience.  But I think he came way too close to being a self-parody later on.  His later-years broadcast partner for a while was Bob Forman, who was just another alumni booster, not a football expert.

I had a hard time listening to Ufer, when the clearly superior radio broadcast was the WUOM (public, no commercials!) team of Tom Hemmingway and Tom Slade.  The best radio team Michigan ever had, although I do very much like Frank Beckmann and Jim Brandstatter. 


May 3rd, 2013 at 3:21 PM ^

As a recent and avid “listener” of books I would love to have the option to listen to Keith narrate a classic.

Keith and Great Expectations… Mr. Pumblechook… Miss. Havisham… he would have nailed it.


May 3rd, 2013 at 3:24 PM ^

to find out as a 10-12 year old kid that Keith Jackson wasn't just the resident announcer for Michigan football and that he did other games too. His is the voice of my childhood Saturday afternoons. As iconic and as much a symbol of Michigan football for me as mowing the lawn and chicken nuggets. (that was my routine; mow the lawn, cook some nuggets, watch football.)


May 3rd, 2013 at 3:46 PM ^

Legends are not legends if they're easily replaced.

Amen, Ace. I wasn't around during the Bob Ufer era but Keith Jackson was a quasi-grandfather to me every fall in the 1990s.


May 3rd, 2013 at 3:57 PM ^

You're going to bring up Keith Jackson, get our hearts and ears all sentimental and NOT at least give us an audio clip of the man.  Talk about a tease!!

Just kidding.  Good post - I used to love listening to him.  Luckily, when he semi-retired and was only doing west coast games I was living on the west coast and got to listen to him for a few more years.

Pretty sure he came out of his 'west coast only' retirement to call the 100th OSU-UM game in 2003.


(Edit - went back and re-read the entire post and saw you tried to find one.  The first I didn't make it to the bottom cause I stopped reading when I saw all the Chris Berman faces)

The FannMan

May 3rd, 2013 at 3:57 PM ^

I remember him coming to the Stadium the year he retired.  It was a rare thing for him to be that far north and east at that point.  I seem to remember him waiving to the crowd from the press box while we all stood and cheered for him.  A moment of true gratitude and appreciate.  Us for him, and him for us.

Nobody else comes close.  I did like Mike Tirico when he did college football.  His work on the Thrusday night college game was great.  Part of that could just be that I love those Thrusday games.  Starts the weekend off just a little early.

Ivan Karamazov

May 3rd, 2013 at 3:57 PM ^

I would try to imitate the way he pronounced Tyrone Wheatly as a four year old on Saturdays.

Really missing the nostalgia mgovideo and mgohistorian could bring with a few videos right now.


May 3rd, 2013 at 4:06 PM ^

Reminds me of the time a buddy and I were looking for Howard King in the UM pressbox during the offseason back in the 90's.  We were going to implore him to say "Ty Douthard", then RB of the Illini...


May 3rd, 2013 at 4:15 PM ^

It gets worse for us...

If you google "Keith Jackson Whoa Nellie," the first video result is a "Signature Keith Jackson" video of him calling Kordell Stewart's hail mary.

The internet is out to get us, you guys.


May 3rd, 2013 at 4:21 PM ^

God, I wish I could remember the kid's name, but one of Michigan's lineman 20+ years ago said that he knew he wasn't going to play in the NFL, so his career highlight would be to have Keith Jackson call him a hoss just once.  Bob Griese heard the story and told it on air.  Keith teased about it for 3 quarters--"Well, now he's going to have to earn that one."  Finally, after a nice run through a big hole the kid created, Keith said dramatically, "OK:  HE...IS...A...HOSS."  Made MY day just listening to it; I expect it made the kid's decade.


May 3rd, 2013 at 4:33 PM ^

My favorite of his wasn't any catchphrase or call, but how he pronounced "sophomore."

It was always...

"Tyrone Wheatley, the 6'0 "soph•a•more" out of...."


May 3rd, 2013 at 4:41 PM ^

Please stop making up stupid names that you don't have to live with, but your kid does. There are thousands of exisiting names that won't cause your kids to be relentlessly teased when they are young. 


May 3rd, 2013 at 9:16 PM ^

My first name is "Michael." It's not so bad since I moved to Toronto, with its huge population of immigrants, but growing up there were always at least one other Mike in all of my classes and as many as five.

(Now I work with three other Mikes on the same team. Only one of us was actually born in Canada. One was born in the Philippines, another in Romania and I was born in Ann Arbor.)


May 3rd, 2013 at 4:45 PM ^

to Ernie Harwell.  I had no idea how lucky I was as a metro-Detroit kid listening to Harwell call Tiger games. 

For me, Mike Emrick (hockey) is approaching the same level of quality play-by-play + personal charm/wit.

I think that too many analysts try too hard . . . and it shows.  (I mute when C. Berman is on the T.V. ) 

KJ was pretty darn awesome, and like the other 30- 40-somethings on this board, was a central figure in my formative sports years.

Dutch Ferbert

May 3rd, 2013 at 4:56 PM ^

I remember summer vacations in the UP and picking up his broadcasts of Tiger games, or driving around Metro Detroit with the game on, or sitting in Michigan Stadium in September watching a football game while listening to Ernie on WJR. Talk about a legend.

College football is my favorite sport, but Ernie Harwell's "Baseball" always makes the room a little dustry. I am too computer illiterate to embed, so here's a link: