Legendary sports broadcaster Keith Jackson dead at 89

The legendary voice of college football, Keith Jackson, died Friday at 89, according to multiple reports.

Sportscaster Keith Jackson speaks onstage at the 66th Annual Directors Guild Of America Awards (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for DGA)

Jackson was known for his coverage of college football since 1952 and he worked for ABC Sports from 1966 until his 2006 retirement.

His distinct voice and folksy manner made him a popular personality in the business. He was known for his signature calls, including “Whoa, Nellie!”

In 1999, he was awarded the Gold Medal Award by the National Football Foundation and was inducted into the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame for his years of contribution.

In 2015, the Rose Bowl stadium’s radio and television booths were renamed after him.

The Rose Bowl was not just the oldest bowl game to Jackson, but “the granddaddy of them all.” The University of Michigan’s stadium, he’s credited with saying, is “The Big House.”

After initially saying he was retiring in 1999, the American Sportscasters Association Hall of Fame member announced a few months later that he would continue with ABC, by broadcasting primarily West Coast games, closer to his California home.

He retired in 2006, after calling the Rose Bowl game in which Texas beat Southern California and clinched the national championship.

“For generations of fans, Keith Jackson was college football,” said Bob Iger, CEO of Disney, which owns ABC and ESPN. “When you heard his voice, you knew it was a big game. Keith was a true gentleman and memorable presence. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife, Turi Ann, and his family.”


CNN contributed to this report.