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Legendary broadcaster Keith Jackson dies

Keith Jackson, who was widely regarded by several generations as the voice synonymous with college football, has died. He was 89.

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Jackson died on Friday night, according to media reports.

The Georgia-born Jackson's folksy voice and colorful expressions made him a popular play-by-play personality among college football fans.

Jackson was best known for his signature phrase "Whoa, Nellie" as well as "big uglies" in reference to offensive linemen and holding the last syllable in the word "fumble" for a few seconds.

"For generations of fans, Keith Jackson was college football," said Bob Iger, chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company. "When you heard his voice, you knew it was a big game. Keith was a true gentleman and a memorable presence. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife, Turi Ann, and his family."

Jackson is also credited with nicknaming the Rose Bowl as "The Granddaddy of Them All" as well as christening Michigan Stadium with its "Big House" moniker.

"We, too, are saddened to hear of (Jackson's passing)," the University of Michigan tweeted on its official athletics feed. "One of the greatest to ever do it."

Jackson began his broadcasting career on the radio in 1952 by calling a Washington State vs. Stanford game. He went on to call national college football games for ABC Sports from 1966-2006 in addition to providing the voice for Monday Night Football in the NFL in 1970. Jackson also worked with games involving Major League Baseball, NBA and the USFL as well as events such as PGA Tour golf, the Olympics, boxing and auto racing.

Although versatile, it was college football for which Jackson was best known.

Jackson initially announced his retirement from college football play-by-play responsibilities after the 1998 season, but stayed on with ABC Sports before walking away in May 2006.

"This is the perfect time," Jackson told The New York Times in May 2006. "I don't want to get back into the pressure cooker of play-by-play and worry about travel. I don't want to die in a stadium parking lot."

Bob Griese was quite clear in what he'd remember about Jackson, his longtime broadcast partner with whom he started working in 1985.

"That big smiling face, and just the thrill and the love he had for doing college football," Griese told ESPN. "He did it for a long, long time. ... He never intruded on the game. It was always about the kids on the field. Never, never shining the light on himself. And that was one of the things that I most admired about him."

Jackson's last game was a memorable one as it was the 2006 Rose Bowl, with Vince Young leading Texas past Heisman Trophy winners Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush.

"Just heard the news that everyone's favorite CFB broadcaster Keith Jackson passed away last night," ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit wrote on Twitter. "Can close my eyes and think of so many of his special calls. Thank you Keith for all the memories and the grace in which you provided them. RIP Keith."

Jackson was inducted into the American Sportscasters Hall of Fame in 1994. The National Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association named him the National Sportscaster of the Year five times, among other honors.

Jackson served in the Marine Corps before attending Washington State University, at which the broadcast building was renamed in his honor in 2014.

"Incredibly saddened to hear the loss of a broadcasting legend, the voice of college football across the Country, and WSU Cougar great, Keith Jackson," Washington State tweeted. "His impact will live on forever."

The Rose Bowl's television and radio booths were renamed "The Keith Jackson Broadcast Center" in 2005.

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