Legendary sportscaster Keith Jackson, who retired following the 2006 Rose Bowl between USC and Texas, is less than enthusiastic about his association with “Whoa, Nellie!,” the catchphrase many college football fans associate with Jackson — but which Jackson says he rarely used.
Speaking to Jim Weber of LostLettermen, Jackson, 82, said he’s mystified that the phrase has become synonymous with him.
“I never did use it that much, just a couple times when Grease (Bob Griese) and I were (broadcasting) together,” Jackson said this week from his home in Sherman Oaks, Calif. “Bob Griese used it more than I did. I don’t know how that thing got hung on me. The media likes to hang things on you and that was my bad luck, I guess.”
Does he even like the phrase?
“Eh,” Jackson replied. “I haven’t used it – I never did use it much – and I haven’t used it in a long time. It’s amazing how it’s hung on.”
Frankly when I think of Jackson, the phrase that comes to mind is “Touchdown, Alabama, roll tide.” I might have only heard it once, but it has stuck with me, thanks largely to Jackson’s unmistakable inflection.