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Steve Springer / ON SPORTS MEDIA

Keith Jackson will have the best seat in his house

September 12, 2008|Steve Springer

USC and Ohio State. The Coliseum. A national championship perhaps at stake. ABC, Saturday afternoon, 5 p.m.

What more could a college football fan ask for?

How about Keith Jackson behind the mike? Unfortunately, those days are history.

The 80-year-old Jackson retired almost a decade ago, was lured back, then retired again after the 2006 Rose Bowl and he plans to stay that way. No third acts for him. No more descriptions of rumblin', stumblin', fumblin' players by the venerable voice of the game for four decades, one of the most colorful announcers to ever put on a pair of headphones.

"I don't belong," he said. "My time is gone. I knew it and walked away."

While Vin Scully, who is the same age, has re-signed for another year with the Dodgers and Chick Hearn went on with the Lakers until his death at 85, Jackson is content with his decision, happy to hunker down at home for Saturday's game.

"I'm going to have a glass of good wine and watch a good ballgame," he said.

After being a football announcer with ABC from 1966 to 2006, he doesn't miss it?

"I've brainwashed myself into believing that," he said. "I'm on to another life."

That life revolves around family and golf. He and his wife, Turi Ann, have three grown children and three grandchildren.

Jackson, who lives in Sherman Oaks, hasn't set foot in a stadium -- even as a spectator -- since turning off his mike, and he wouldn't consider making an exception Saturday.

"It's too much of a hassle," he said. "Besides, I seem to have a problem with parking lot attendants even though I have every type of pass. For that last Rose Bowl game, I had a reserved parking spot with my name on it. That didn't impress a Pasadena cop who still didn't want to let me in."

The first time Jackson retired, he was enticed into returning when a network executive removed the burden of his heavy travel schedule. And when Jackson retired again, there was a new enticement.

"ESPN talked to me," he said, "but it's a whole different profession now."

Jackson is talking about the radical changes produced by technology, from the dizzying array of channel options, to online videos, blogging by sideline reporters, fantasy football stats and the increasing demand for an interactive experience.

"It's oversaturation to me," he said. "I wonder if it won't dull the appetite for football. I have trouble just with all these replays. I can't tell the old stuff from the new stuff. Also, it seems like there is constant conversation by the announcers. Yak, yak, yak. I just don't think we need that much conversation and I have a hunch there are a whole lot of folks who feel that way. Vinny [Scully] once said that what we do is capture pictures and I agree with that. But maybe I'm just a grouchy old guy."

He is certainly a guy who resists change. He's been married to the same woman for 56 years, spent 54 years in the same business and has lived in the same house for 44 years.

And in that house he will remain Saturday.

No habla espanol

There may be myriad media options for USC fans, but not for those in the Spanish-speaking community. Those options have dwindled to zero. After airing their football games on radio in Spanish for several years, the Trojans have no outlet this season.

The games had been carried on AM 830 last season, but that station has switched to an English-language format.

"We surveyed all the Spanish-language stations in town for this season," said USC sports information director Tim Tessalone. "We had serious discussions with one station, but we couldn't complete a deal. It's hard to break in with all the other sports already being broadcast in Spanish. We would very much like to have our games on a Spanish-language station in the future."

And you thought

soccer was big?

ESPN Star Sports, an Asian broadcasting company, has paid nearly $1 billion to secure the rights to the Twenty20 Champions League cricket tournament for the next 10 years. The eight-team event has squads from England, Australia, South Africa, India and Pakistan.

ESPN Star Sports operates under two parent companies, Walt Disney and News Corp. Limited.

Monday night addition

The Houston Texans-Baltimore Ravens game, scheduled for Sunday at Houston's Reliant Stadium, has been moved to Monday night because of Hurricane Ike.

The game will be televised on local CBS stations in the affected markets but will not be part of ESPN's "Monday Night Football."

--

steve.springer@latimes.com

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