Jack Cristil to be Honored

It's always fun to take a stroll down memory lane. Joining Mississippi State's own Jack Cristil, the legendary "Voice of the Bulldogs" for a half century, makes the journey twice as enjoyable.

The Dean of SEC Airwaves, Cristil will be honored during the Mississippi State-Kentucky football weekend Nov. 1-2 in Starkville. A banquet, saluting Cristil, will be held at 7 p.m. Friday in the Union Ballroom on campus.

A few tickets remain at $50 apiece through the MSU athletic ticket office in the Bryan Athletic Administration Building.

Cristil will also be recognized during the halftime festivities of the SEC game between Mississippi State and Kentucky Saturday at Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field. Kickoff is set for 1:30 p.m.

Recently, Cristil addressed the Starkville Quarterback Club to a rousing ovation before Jackie Sherrill's Bulldogs tackled an SEC opponent.

Rivaling the veteran broadcaster in loyalty to the university, Mississippi State's dynamic Athletic Director Larry Templeton applauded the Hall of Fame announcer.

Jack Cristil is the "greatest ambassador" in the history of Mississippi State University, Templeton told the near overflow crowd assembled at the Starkville Country Club to hear the Quarterback Club's featured speaker.

If ever there was a cavalcade of sports in the air, "Mississippi State style," it was during the "prime time" address at the stately Country Club where two outstanding speakers had already appeared in the fall - MSU's own Jackie Sherrill and former MSU great Dave "Boo" Ferriss.

One of the reasons the Quarterback Club has enjoyed so much success this campaign is due to the quality of the speakers assembled by Starkville QB Club President Jack McCarty and Vice President Jeremy Tabor.

"We certainly appreciate Jack Cristil visiting with us and sharing his many vivid memories of the Mississippi State Bulldogs," McCarty would say.

"Thank you so much for coming," added McCarty upon presenting a Maroon Blazer to the Bulldogs' gifted announcer, a token of appreciation of the Quarterback Club.

Cristil has described the play-by-play through the years of over 500 Mississippi State football games, a more vivid account of each game not to be found on the airwaves. He's also broadcast over 1,300 basketball games. That's simply amazing. It's things of which legends thrive.

Templeton introduced Cristil as the one person who invented the slogan: "You Can Paint It in Maroon & White ladies and gentlemen."

Mississippi State running backs coach Glenn Davis helped fill the void until the arrival of Cristil who earlier in the evening joined Jackie Sherrill for their weekly radio show.

The Bulldogs assistant football coach, despite a short work week and a busy schedule, remained to hear Cristil speak, a tribute to one of the greatest play-by-play announcers the college game has ever known.

Cristil is an icon of the airwaves, a one in a million diamond in the rough, who is second to none as an ambassador to Mississippi State, as an announcer, an as an American!

Thank you, Jack, for the description of countless Mississippi State memories which seem to be piling up at a rapid pace during the modern era, a tribute to the excellent job being rendered by MSU administrators and coaches alike, not to mention the loyalty of Bulldog alumni and fans everywhere.

Not that Mississippi State fans have ever been starved for excitement and championships because etched in the record books is numerous milestone achievements:

  • MSU's upset of No. 1 ranked Alabama in 1980.
  • The Dogs first ever appearance in the Final Four in 1996.
  • Seven trips to the College World Series in Omaha.

    It's become increasingly apparent that athletic endeavors have been on the upswing in recent years.

    Mississippi State has been one of the most viable gridiron teams in the SEC under the "Dean of the SEC Coaches" Sherrill. Since his arrival in Starkville, the Bulldogs have been to six bowl games, including a New Year's Day game in the Cotton Bowl at Dallas, while the Western Division champions made a bid for the SEC title in 1998 at the Georgia Dome.

    Joining Sherrill to form one of the most prolific collegiate coaching staffs in the country is Rick Stansbury, who led the Bulldog hoopsters to the SEC Tournament championship last March, the Diamond Dogs' Ron Polk, the winningest coach in the SEC, and Sharon Fanning's Lady Bulldogs, an annual contender for postseason honors, to name a few of the school's on the field leaders.

    Jack Cristil still recalls numerous landmark wins early in his broadcasting career at Mississippi State although he's quick to applaud the rapid rise in the athletic fortunes in the modern era.

    One thing has remained the same, his "crystal clear" voice which has been the same throughout a brilliant career. Describing the play of stars from Jackie Parker, Billy Stacy, Sonny Fisher, Rockey Felker, Jimmy Webb and D.D. Lewis to modern day standouts Justin Griffith, Donald Lee, Kevin Fant, Kyle York and Mario Haggan, his demeanor has remained upbeat.

    Thousands upon thousands have joined Cristil on Saturday afternoons in the fall of the year to hear the Dogs battle one and all, and also to catch the MSU hoopsters, encompassing the greatness and success of coaches Babe McCarthy, Richard Williams and Rick Stansbury.

    Cristil's voice has probably been heard in more homes in Mississippi and surrounding states than any other announcer.

    We "love" you Jack, and we'll always be there for you, just like you have for the MSU Bulldogs!


    Don Foster, a veteran newspaper writer who is the Sports Editor for the Starkville Daily News, writes a weekly article for Gene's Page.

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