Keith Jackson, whose Southern drawl and homespun, folksy phrases endeared him to college football fans for more than half a century, died Friday night, ESPN reported. He was 89.
Jackson died surrounded by his family, according to NBC Sports' Todd Harris.
Born in Roopville, Georgia, on Oct. 18, 1928, Jackson was also the first play-by-play broadcaster for “Monday Night Football” when it debuted in 1970 and covered a wide range of sports. He was known for his signature phrase “Whoa, Nellie!” after a big play. Jackson said the origin of the phrase came from his great-grandfather. He also coined the phrase “Big Uglies,” and christened Michigan’s football stadium “The Big House,” ESPN reported.
Jackson called 15 Rose Bowl games and was credited with calling the New Year’s Day game “The granddaddy of them all,” The New York Daily News reported. The final game he broadcast from Pasadena was the 2006 game in which Texas rallied to defeat USC for the national title.
Jackson was named national sportscaster of the year five times, the Daily News reported.
Jackson spent four years in the Marines and later graduated with a journalism degree from Washington State University, where he broadcast the team’s games.
He joined ABC’s college football announcing team in 1966, but also called NBA games, auto racing and was a staple on ABC’s “Wide World of Sports.” He also announced World Series games, 10 Olympics and traveled to 31 countries, ESPN reported.
Jackson also had fun playing off his signature phrase, as this commercial for Miller Lite demonstrates:
Tributes to Jackson rolled in on Twitter:
It was a great day for Bradley Bozeman — winning a national championship, followed by getting engaged.
The Alabama center proposed to his girlfriend on the field at Mercedes-Benz Stadium after the Crimson Tide beat Georgia 26-23 in overtime to win the College Football Playoff National Championship Game on Monday night.
Bozeman’s girlfriend answered his proposal with a yes, putting a cap on the senior’s great day.
Watch Bozeman’s proposal, courtesy of Sports Illustrated:
Bozeman just completed his second season as Alabama’s starting center. Last year, he was part of the Crimson Tide team that lost to Clemson in the National Championship Game. Let’s just say the game this year ended much better — in more ways than one.
Bo Scarbrough says there’s been a big misunderstanding, and it involves what he supposedly said about the president.
Shortly after the College Football Playoff national championship game started on Monday evening, Sporting News posted a video that appeared to include Alabama RB Bo Scarbrough shouting "[Expletive] Trump!" as he walked with his teammates through the tunnel.
>> Click here to watch (WARNING: Profanity)
The video, which was not even clear enough to definitely say the words came from Scarbrough, was just nine seconds long, but it made its way across the internet as the nation was captivated by President Donald Trump’s trip to watch the Crimson Tide take on Georgia at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
Following the game, Scarbrough admitted to being the voice dropping the expletive on the video. However, he tweeted that the recipient of the curse was actually not Trump.
“If y’all really listen I said Georgia,” Scarbrough wrote on Twitter after winning the national title. “smh [Shaking my head] about y’all people in this world.”
Before Alabama and Georgia played the NCAA Football National Championship game, the Zac Brown Band took the field to sing the national anthem. They were joined on the field by President Donald Trump, who attended the game.
However, some were quick to point out some notable absences on the sidelines: both teams.
Players for Alabama and Georgia were nowhere to be seen as the anthem was played, prompting some to wonder if they’d been kept in the locker rooms to avoid an unsightly protest in front of Trump.
The Trump administration has made national anthem protests in the NFL an intense focus point in the first year in office, with Vice President Mike Pence attending a Colts game in October only to leave as players protested during the national anthem. At the time, Pence said, “I left today’s Colts game because President Trump and I will not dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our flag, or our national anthem.”
The walkout — which the administration denies was planned — reportedly cost taxpayers $242,000.
But there was to be no walking out for any players at the NCAA National Championship game. Unlike the NFL, almost no college football teams take the field until after the national anthem, according to The Associated Press.
In all, eight of the 14 schools in the Big Ten are on the field for the national anthem. In the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), just two teams take the field. And no teams in the Big 12, PAC-12, or Southeastern Conference (SEC) are on field for the national anthem.
“Most schools are wise enough not to play the national anthem while players are on the field,” Kansas State coach Bill Snyder told the AP at the time, adding, “I concur with that.”
The celebration of Alabama’s National Championship Game victory wasn’t limited to just Atlanta and Tuscaloosa on Monday night.
Tua Tagovailoa may not have started the national championship for Alabama, but he sure did finish it.
The talented freshman came off the bench with the Crimson Tide trailing 13-0 at the half and he led Alabama to a 26-23 overtime victory.
Tagovailoa was a popular man in the post-game interview scrum, and for good reason. Here’s a look at what he had to say:
Tagovailoa later gave a one-on-one interview to ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt on SportsCenter.
Van Pelt: “Tua, do you have a sense of what it is that you and your guys have just accomplished?”
Tagovailoa: “I mean, it just felt like another game out there. I just thank God I was put in a place and the position that I’m in now. I just want to enjoy this win with my team and my family. That’s really it.”
Van Pelt: “I get it. And with respect – it’s not just another game. It’s the biggest stage your sport has got and at this moment we’re showing that you shared with your family. What is it like when you get to share that particular moment with the people you love the most?”
Tagovailoa: “I think that’s the most special thing. Especially for my dad. My dad is my heart. My family is my heart. And just being able to have them here, as well, to be able to witness it was an amazing opportunity for me.”
Nick Saban explained his decision to bench starter Jalen Hurts in favor of Tagovailoa.
“We’ve had this in our mind that if we were struggling offensively, that we would give Tua an opportunity, even in the last game,” Saban said after the victory on Monday night. “No disrespect to Jalen (Hurts), but the real thought was, you know, they came into the game thinking we were going to run the ball and be able to run quarterback runs, which we made a couple of explosive plays on. But with the absence of a passing game and being able to make explosive plays and being able to convert on third down, I didn’t feel we could run the ball well enough, and I thought Tua would give us a better chance and a spark, which he certainly did.”
Alabama coach Nick Saban won his sixth national championship Monday night in Mercedes-Benz Stadium as the Tide beat Georgia, 26-23, in the College Football Playoff.
Alabama (13-1) began and ended its season in Atlanta, though it did not win the SEC West or participate in the SEC Championship Game. A victory against Clemson in the Sugar Bowl set up the first all-SEC national championship of the College Football Playoff era. The Tide also beat LSU and Mississippi State in tough regular-season games, and then beat out Big Ten champion Ohio State for the No. 4 seed.
On Monday, Saban improved to 12-0 against his former assistant coaches in the first-ever meeting between Saban and Georgia coach Kirby Smart.
• "Obviously, this is a fantastic win, a fantastic night for the University of Alabama. I couldn’t be prouder of a group of players, especially the resiliency they showed in the game.”
• Saban said the “don’t waste a failure” mantra after last year’s national championship loss to Clemson resonates today.
• Saban explained the decision to switch to Tua Tagovailoa at halftime. Here’s the full quote: “We’ve had this in our mind that if we were struggling offensively, that we would give Tua an opportunity, even in the last game. No disrespect to Jalen (Hurts), but the real thought was, you know, they came into the game thinking we were going to run the ball and be able to run quarterback runs, which we made a couple of explosive plays on. But with the absence of a passing game and being able to make explosive plays and being able to convert on third down, I didn’t feel we could run the ball well enough, and I thought Tua would give us a better chance and a spark, which he certainly did.
“I couldn’t be prouder of him taking advantage of the opportunity. We have total confidence in him. We played him a lot in a lot of games this year, and he did very well.”
• Saban says Tua’s interception came on a missed call. Everyone else was blocking for a run, and Tua thought it was a pass. Saban joked with Tua about it.
• What keeps Saban coming back every year? He says it’s not just about championships. “You have an opportunity to help players be more successful in life. … The message to the team tonight after this game? I hope you take something from this game and the resiliency that you showed in this game and it helps you be more successful in life.”
• Saban listed all the members of the 2017 class that made contributions in the win. Saban called it one of the best classes he’s ever put together, especially with offensive talent.
• Saban says that so many members of the 2017 class participated in spring practice, and thinks that’s one reason that the group contributed so much.
• Saban said he’s surprised no one has asked about all the injuries this team overcame. “We’ve never had this many games missed by starters in a season, ever. And to be able to overcome that with the next guy up, whoever it was, to go out there and play the way they played together as a group and trusted and believed in each other, and I think that respect and trust is something that’s really important to have in a good team. That’s something this team had.”
• Saban on why he had the guts to call an onside kick against Clemson two years ago and put in Tua today: He says he trusts players who do things the right way.
• Saban says hiring someone who knew his system has been key to easy transitions as he’s had coaching turnover on that side of the ball.
• ”I just never want one of our players to ever give any reason to use the word ‘but’ after they describe them. There’s one word — the two most compelling words in the draft in my years in the NFL, in a draft report on a player was always ‘and’ and ‘but,’” Saban said.
“When you read a player, and he was a good person, he teammates, he was captain of his team. If they read the same player, and it said but — got a domestic violence charge against him, five marijuana charges — which guy do you want to put on your team? So why would anybody give anybody a reason to say but about what they do, and that’s what we try to get our players to do so that they create value for themselves and their future.”
• ”I think all year long we had lots of confidence in Tua, and we played him so that, if this situation occurred, that he would be ready to play. I know that he was never in a situation where he was behind and had to come back in a game, but the game experience, the confidence, managing the team — he does a really good job in practice. Jalen was sick a couple days before the Clemson game, and the players really respond well to him. He’s a good leader. He’s very well-liked by his teammates, and he’s got a very positive, upbeat attitude that affects other people around him in a very positive way.”
Tua Tagovailoa, the University of Alabama's heralded five-star quarterback from Ewa Beach, Hawaii, threw the winning 41-yard touchdown in overtime early Tuesday to give Alabama its fifth national championship in nine years.
Below are five things to know about Tagovailoa:
The nation’s No. 1 dual-threat quarterback in the Class of 2017 became Hawaii’s career leader in passing yards, as he eclipsed former Saint Louis High School (Honolulu) quarterback Timmy Chang’s record of 8,001 yards. Tagovailoa left Hawaii with 8,158 passing yards and 84 touchdowns along with 1,727 rushing yards and 27 scores to give him 111 career touchdowns.
Tagovailoa willed the Saint Louis Crusaders to a 30-14 win in the state championship game against Kahuku, the No. 1 team in the state, at Aloha Stadium in his final game of high school.
Tagovailoa was named the Elite 11 MVP, which is one of the most prestigious awards a prep quarterback can receive, in the summer of 2016. Tagovailoa became the second Alabama quarterback to win the award, as former Tide signal-caller Blake Barnett won in 2014.
USC was Tagovailoa’s leader to get his commitment for more than a year before Alabama came calling. USC was the school Tagovailoa saw himself attending.
That changed when his family made a southern swing where he saw Alabama, Auburn and Ole Miss. He fell in love with Alabama. After that visit in the spring of 2016, the Crimson Tide became the behind-the-scenes favorite until he committed in May 2016.
Tagovailoa and Najee Harris, a Class of 2017 five-star running back out of Antioch (Calif.) High School, developed a strong bond when they were recruits. The friendship really took off when both were at Nike’s The Opening camp in Oregon, which is where Tagovailoa was given the Elite 11 MVP.
“He’s an awesome guy — a great guy,” Harris told SEC Country in July 2016. “I went to his room to go over some plays, and we ended up talking about God. He’s just a great person. I have much respect to Tua.”
Both Tagovailoa and Harris are deeply committed to their faith.
Tagovailoa isn’t the only impressive football player in the family. His brother, Taulia, is rated as the nation’s No. 8 dual-threat quarterback in the 2019 class. He already holds an Alabama offer.
Taulia wanted to commit to Alabama when he received an offer from the Tide in July 2016, but his parents told him that he was too young to make a big decision like that. But that hasn’t stopped Taulia from thinking about Alabama nonstop. When asked if he still wanted to play for the Tide, Taulia responded immediately.
“Oh, heck yeah,” Taulia told SEC Country. “When Tua went up there, he didn’t want to come back home. He came back and was telling me all of these crazy things like how he got to meet Coach [Nick] Saban. I have only seen that guy in movies it seems like, and for me to see him taking pictures with Mom, Dad and Tua, it was just crazy.”
They haven’t talked all week, and they’re not going to. Not until after the College Football Playoff National Championship Game.
“I’ll probably give him a hug, text him, start back everything,” Georgia wide receiver Riley Ridley said. “We’re brothers, you know.”
While a lot is being made of the numerous relationships between the coaches, including of Nick Saban squaring off against his former defensive coordinator Kirby Smart, no one in the title game has a stronger bond than Alabama junior wide receiver Calvin Ridley and his younger brother Riley.
“I want him to do good … but I want us to win,” Calvin said.
Although the brothers say that they’re close, and are usually in touch, they’ve put that on hold. Usually they’re often in contact, either though texts or phone calls, but after what they called a normal Christmas back home in the Fort Lauderdale, Florida, area, they sort of went their own ways for a bit.
They had enough to worry about in dealing with Clemson and Oklahoma in their respective semifinal games.
“It’s been intense,” Riley Ridley said. “Mom doesn’t know who she wants to root for. She’s a little nervous because both of her boys will be on the field at the same time.”
Calvin thinks she’ll lean toward Riley because he doesn’t have a national championship ring, and this way both would have one.
Regardless, the winner will have lifetime bragging rights.
“You better believe it,” Riley Ridley said.
Although Riley Ridley was also recruited by Alabama, he opted for Georgia in part to forge his own path — and at his brother’s encouragement.
The sophomore reserve has eight receptions for 136 yards and 2 touchdowns this season.
Calvin leads Alabama with 59 receptions for 935 yards and four touchdowns this season. No one else on the Crimson Tide has more than 16 catches.
He’s second in Alabama history with 220 catches and 18 receiving touchdowns, and third in receiving yards with 2,749.
“Calvin is special,” Nick Saban said during the national championship game media day Saturday morning.
Calvin said none of the defensive backs had asked him for advice on covering his brother, but if they asked him he would. “He’s big and he has good hands,” are the keys.
Riley (6-2, 200 pounds) is a little bigger and more physical. Calvin (6-1, 190) is more of a technician and isn’t afraid to throw blocks on much bigger defenders.
As for who is better at getting under an opposing player's skin during a game, they’re not quite in agreement.
“We don’t really talk trash,” Riley Ridley said. “It may look like we talk trash, (but) it’s more of ‘Let’s go! That’s all you got?’”
“He is probably,” Calvin said.
Both thought this matchup was going to happen in this building, but in a different game. Georgia clinched a spot in the SEC championship game early, but then Alabama lost at Auburn — setting up the rematch of the “Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry,” which has been described as like playing your brother.
“It’s the perfect stage,” Riley Ridley said.
It’s one of those statistics that will cause an initial reaction of “No way,” but when you stop and think, it makes a lot of sense.
During the five national title games the University of Alabama football team has played under Nick Saban, the Crimson Tide have lost just two turnovers.
Both were against Texas in the 2009 title game, and both were by special teams, including an interception of a ball thrown by punter P.J. Fitzgerald.
That’s 342 offensive snaps while playing for the national title without having lost a turnover.
It’s also an area that might work to Alabama’s advantage against Georgia in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game.
The Crimson Tide led all SEC teams in turnover margin this season at plus-13, while the Bulldogs were fourth at plus-5.
On the national level, Alabama is second in fewest turnovers lost with nine, just one behind LSU.
Sophomore quarterback Jalen Hurts has had just one pass intercepted, against Arkansas on Oct. 14. At the time, he had the second-longest streak of pass attempts without a pick in school history with 206. His current streak is up to 121.
It’s not just a point of emphasis since Saban arrived in Alabama in 2007, but a strong indicator of his success.
Overall, in the 124 games since the start of the 2009 season, Alabama has turned the ball over just 137 times, an average of 1.1 per game. It works out to an interception every 58.5 passing attempts and a fumble every 160.6 carries by the Crimson Tide’s top two running backs.
This season, Damien Harris and Bo Scarbrough have yet to lose a fumble, and neither lost one in 2016, either.
Prior to the botched handoff against Clemson on the first play of the second half, of Alabama’s six lost fumbles this season, two were on special teams (Henry Ruggs III and Xavian Marks). The others were by senior wide receiver Robert Foster at Texas A&M, junior running back Ronnie Clark vs. Mercer, Ruggs against Mercer and Hurts at Auburn.
“He is on us every day about ball security,” Harris said about his position coach Burton Burns. “That’s the No. 1 thing that you take pride in as a running back is having good ball security and taking care of the football.
“One thing they always tell us is, when you get the ball in your hands, you have the whole team in your hands. So you want to protect it at all cost.”
Incidentally, Hurts had 11 fumbles, with five lost, as a freshman last season, and nine interceptions — all but one of which was against an SEC opponent. Yet he didn’t have any during the SEC Championship Game or the College Football Playoff.
Meanwhile, junior wide receiver Calvin Ridley has played in 43 games for Alabama, with 1 fumble that was recovered. The two players he gets compared to the most statistically, Amari Cooper and Julio Jones, touched the ball a combined 442 times without having a single fumble.
“I have to be fast off the ball and get into my route quickly, so I can get open so they don’t create turnovers,” Ridley said.
Alabama hasn’t had quite the same turnover success in four College Football Playoff semifinals, but did have a 2-1 edge against Clemson in the Sugar Bowl. If junior defensive tackle Da’Ron Payne’s interception combined with his touchdown a few plays later wasn’t an emotional backbreaker to Clemson, the subsequent pick-6 by sophomore linebacker Mack Wilson was.
“Mack Wilson has filled in tremendously,” senior linebacker Rashaan Evans said about Shaun Dion Hamilton’s replacement. “I expect him to have another big game this upcoming game.”
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