Another Reason To Clone Keith Jackson

Submitted by Ace on 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.


Dutch Ferbert

May 4th, 2013 at 4:32 PM ^

The beauty of radio was the necessity for colorful and descriptive language. Ufer, Harwell and the other radio greats had the task of making the game come alive in their listeners minds. They didn't used canned terms like "trickeration"...they made their broadcasts their own.

If you like Harwell on baseball, here's Ufer on college football (first 4 minutes of this clip):

I would love it if ABC/ESPN used this as an intro to a Michigan game some day, but 4 minutes without an ad might be too much to ask. Some of it may be a little dated, like the reference to women's figures, but that's part of it's beauty.



May 3rd, 2013 at 5:12 PM ^

I  agree with prior comments of wanting Jackson for anything but Michigan games. How could any Michigan fan ever want anybody but Bob Ufer. A man who could cap off a great victory with a poem like Ufer did just put the icing on the cake. A man who penned a poem titled "Burying Woody" that ended with "Oh the Buckeyes came to bury Michigan but Michigan wasn't dead and when the game was over  it was someone else instead. Eleven Michigan Wolverines put on the gloves of gray and as the organ played The Victors they laid Woody Hayes away" Priceless



May 3rd, 2013 at 6:22 PM ^

Ace, I know exactly what you mean man, he was the voice and the essence of Saturday football. I miss him almost each fall weeken without fail, most likely always will. Another voice for me is Bob Cole, simply the voice of Saturday night growing up and grown. I wanted to give a shout out to the Red Wings and their fans, welcome back to the east, we missed you. Next years playoffs are going to be special. Go Leafs


May 3rd, 2013 at 9:03 PM ^

It would be smart of a video game studio to get him in the sound booth and just get him going. If anyone besides EA gets a shot at NCAAF again, that would be fantastic to have him as a commentator.


May 3rd, 2013 at 11:02 PM ^

Keith Jackson was legendary.  Most of his time was spent broadcasting games for us.  In 1989, Bo's final season, he did 10 of our 12 games.  After his retirement in 1998, Bob Griese brought up the fact that he's broadcasted more games from Michigan Stadium over the years than any other stadium in the country.  And speaking of Michigan Stadium, it was Keith who gave it the nickname, the Big House. 

He broadcasted many of our greatest moments, countless wins over OSU, Bo's second Rose Bowl win, the national title game in 98, Desmond and Woodson's punt returns... and he broadcasted some of our most heartbreaking moments like the Colorado hail mary and Sparty mugging Desmond on the 2 point attempt. 

After his retirement, ESPN Classic asked him which were his favorite college football games so they could broadcast them on a day as a tribute to him.  One of the games he picked was the 98 Rose Bowl, which ironically, was over his alma mater, WSU. 

He's had enough great quotes to fill a library.  Some of my favorites were....

*1996 game in Boulder, Colorado's second hail mary is just incomplete.  On the replay, Keith says, "I don't think I could have handled that one." 

*In 1998, after we crushed Penn State 27-0, Keith said, "Just before the game, I talked with Michigan's Jim Brandstatter.  He asked me what I thought would happen in the game.  And so I gave him my thoughts.  Now I realize I don't know a thing about anything."

And one from before I was born, the 1977 Texas A&M game at the big house...

"Now the Michigan Wolverines are assembled in the tunnel and the crowd is coming to it's feet, and when the Wolves come on to the field, you'll hear a roar that will knock pine cones out of trees 50 miles away."


May 4th, 2013 at 2:51 AM ^

I recall so many of his games and I recall a story he told during the course of the game about what one of the M OL asked of him. It seems like such a simple request, but the UM player, name now forgotten told him, "Mr. Jackson, I would love to play well enough that one day while you are doing a Michigan game that you would refer to me as one of the "Big Hosses," a reference he often used to draw attention to a great block. Well the player got his wish the same afternoon after springing one of our backs for a sizeable gain. Immediately after the play, Keith told the story of the request and added, "I think he earned the name on that play." I've watched this game since many of you were in your cribs, and before that actually and he was one of the best. He was to college football what Cosell was to Boxing, simply unmatched during their peak years.


May 4th, 2013 at 12:00 AM ^

Jackson was the greatest.  Humble, to the point, and always professional, unlike these guys today who just want to hear the sound of their own voices.  I really miss that guy.


May 5th, 2013 at 4:05 AM ^

before the 1991 FSU game:


"When you venture into the biggest house in college football you better come prepared lest ye parish at the hands of the burly resident."


His voice is college football to me.


Oh, and "He's got a convoy!"

The Wolf

May 7th, 2013 at 4:06 PM ^

Keith Jackson's voice IS college football to me. His low, golden voice combined with the serene southern accent always made the game that much more enjoyable. 

Oddly, perhaps, but as a younger poster I am beginning to feel the same way about Frank Beckman for the radio. Traveling around the state on Saturdays always felt a lot better when we could listen to Frank and Jim. Before the advent of wonderful technology, like iHeart/Slacker/TuneIn Radio, listening to anyone else broadcast the Michigan game over the radio was like torture.