BY JOE B. COATES
My family and I – and the entire state of Mississippi – were saddened to hear of the passing of legendary Mississippi State radio announcer Jack Cristil earlier this week. Jack, who bridged generations of Bulldog fans and Mississippians for over five decades, was definitely a broadcaster for all the ages.
Oh Lord, the stories I could tell of listening to Jack broadcast MSU football and basketball. Jack raised my brother John and I as Bulldogs, his voice painting a picture of each detail of the games, right down the color and style of the Bulldog uniforms. Jack told the story of each play with great attention to its elements–who was wide right in the formation, who was the forward wall on a good running play, where the players were from, where the ball was located in respect to the goal lines and so forth.
Jack was Bulldog football for us. Coaches and players came and went, but Jack was there every season. He guided us through what Bulldog football is – a few seasons of mediocre playing and coaching, followed by a couple or three seasons of winning more than we lost on through those in which State was lucky to win two or three games. He never missed a beat. His voice was the constant highlight of every season.
Long before nearly every game was televised on TV, our family would gather around the radio to hear Jack call the action. We heard him make the famous call on the fumble that State recovered to seal the 6-3 win over top-ranked Alabama in 1980. We listened as he described how John Bond dominated the LSU Tigers with his magical feet for four straight years from 1980-83. We celebrated with Jack when Don Smith kept for 63 yards around the right side for a late TD to beat Tennessee at Neyland Stadium in 1986.
“Pile-up of humanity”, “Chinaman’s chance”, “colder than a pawn broker’s heart,” and “he cannot go!” will live with us forever. Of course, we will never forget “You can wrap this one in marooooon and white!” at the end of every Bulldog victory, whether on the court or on the field.
For the longest time, I made sure that I was around a radio on Game Day so that I could tune in to hear Jack, starting with “Good evening ladies and gentleman and welcome to Scott Field . . .” all the way up to “so for Jim Ellis, John Correro and myself, so long from Scott Field on the MSU radio network.”
He was one-of-a-kind, genuine, loyal to the Bulldogs and a joy to hear over the airwaves. Without a doubt, Jack is now broadcasting with the angels in heaven, his voice resounding all over the Kingdom of Heaven.