As a kid who grew up a sports fan in the Pacific Northwest during the 1980s and 90s, there were three voices who defined my youth. Now, two of them are gone and I haven’t heard the third in a long time. It’s all at once a serious bummer and a reason to look back and be thankful for what was.
My summers were filled with the voice of Dave Niehaus, who painted Picasso after Picasso through either my dad’s stereo or my own headphones. Once fall came, the two other voices became a huge part of my life. On the radio, it was Bob Robertson calling Cougar football games. Many of you are probably used to seeing the Cougs on TV every week. Back then, seeing the Cougs on TV was a special treat, so it was up to Bob Robertson (and for many years Paul Sorensen) to give me my Cougar football fix.
On the television, Keith Jackson always called the biggest college football game of the week. There are so many of his calls that are burned into my memory. FSU-Miami: “Missed it to the right!” Michigan-Ohio State: “Hellllooooo Heisman.” Colorado-Michigan: “Lets it go. He’s got three people down there...caught! Touchdown!” Texas-USC: “He’s going for the corner, he’s got it!”
That last one, of course, was Keith’s final game. But I still remember the first time he retired, which came after he called the Florida State-Tennessee national title game in 1999. Luckily for all of us, Keith couldn’t stay away, coming back to call mostly west coast games through 2005.
When I was a sophomore at Iowa in 1995, we were 5-0 and Penn State was coming to town. The game was scheduled for 2:30 on ABC. That was cool, but you wouldn’t believe how much more amped the campus got when we found out Keith Jackson was going to be there. Once we heard that, we knew our game was the center of the college football world that week.
So it was for the WSU alumnus. Wherever he went, the game that followed was a big deal. The best part? When they had the coach’s luncheon on the Friday before the game, Keith was the keynote speaker. To poke fun at both the farming tradition in Iowa and Hayden Fry’s country roots, Keith showed up to the luncheon in overalls and a straw hat. We ate it up.
My biggest WSU/Keith Jackson memories stem from the 1998 Rose Bowl and the 2003 Oregon game. The Rose Bowl was a funny juxtaposition of WSU alum calling play-by-play and color man (Bob Greise) being the dad of the opposing quarterback. And goddamnit if Dorian Boose could’ve just wrapped up Griese on Michigan’s last drive, I bet WSU wins the game. 2003 was funny because WSU put an absolute beatdown on Oregon, and Keith was calling the game alongside Oregon grad Dan Fouts. Finally, after the game was well in hand, Fouts piped up that Keith had to be loving it, “You old Coug, you.”
Looking back, it’s hard to ask for anything more if you were a northwest sports fan back then. Well, asking for more wins probably would have been ok, since God knows that neither WSU nor the Mariners were exactly stuffing the win column. But even though the losses came more often than the wins for those two teams, knowing that I got to hear Keith Jackson on fall Saturdays made everything ok.
The article on Jackson from the Athletic isn’t free, but this is a hint that you should pay to read the articles on that network of sites. You won’t regret it.
Daily Cavalcade: Keith Jackson Was The Greatest College Football Announcer. Ever. | College Football News
No, really. Thank you, Keith Jackson. The greatest college football announcer. Ever.
Keith Jackson was the definitive college football voice | SI.com
Jackson guided an awful lot of us through our college football education. His twang came from Georgia, but he learned to call games on the other side of the country while attending Washington State on the G.I. Bill.
John Blanchette: Though the voice for college football fans across the country, Keith Jackson’s heart never left Pullman | The Spokesman-Review
The greatest broadcasters have the knack for marrying their narration to the moment without stepping all over it, and this was Jackson’s special gift.
Remembering Keith Jackson and that unforgettable voice of college football – The Athletic
Student Body Right. Howard’s Rock. Touchdown Jesus. Keith Jackson.
The Cougs used both a huge second half and a record-setting effort from Robert Franks to beat the brakes off the Cal Bears on Saturday. It looked to be more of the same initially, as WSU turned the ball over five times in the first four minutes. Probably had something to do with the refs or a lack of grit. A lackluster first half saw the Cougs take a 30-25 lead into the locker room.
The second half was quite a different story, as WSU stepped on the gas and left Cal in the dust. The Cougars outscored the Golden Bears 48-28 (!!!) in the last 20 minutes enroute to their first (and what will undoubtedly be the easiest) conference win of the season. The star of the show was Robert Franks, who poured in 34 points. 30 of those points came from long distance, as Franks knocked down a staggering 10 of 13 shots from behind the arc. In case you were wondering, those 10 three-pointers are a school record for a single game.
Drick Bernstine pitched in a solid all-around effort, adding 10 points, nine assists and six rebounds. More importantly, he only turned the ball over once. Malachi Flynn was the team’s second leading scorer with 14 points. He still had more turnovers than assists, which continues to plague him. On the whole, WSU turned the ball over 15 times, which is bad but also an improvement. So let’s chalk this game up to progress! But seriously it’s nice to see this group get a win. Hopefully there are some more in the offing.
Robert Franks, Drick Bernstine power Washington State Cougars past California Golden Bears | The Spokesman-Review
While the Cougars’ big men were having their way with the Golden Bears, WSU’s defense also stood out.
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Best beer I had this week: A good friend of mine at work is a Navy SEAL. He’s also a fellow beer nerd. You won’t believe this, but he knows his way around San Diego. So when he went out there for Christmas, he brought back a Coronado Brewing Barrel-Aged Black Forest Cake Imperial Stout. It was tremendous. The hint of cherry at the end was sublime.
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