By NEMS Daily Journal
Jack Cristil’s retirement as the radio voice of the Mississippi State University football and basketball Bulldogs closes a long, distinguished and much-honored career in intercollegiate athletics.
Cristil’s iconic voice and his precise narrative of every game he ever announced made Mississippi State’s broadcasts among the most distinctive in the Southeastern Conference and college sports generally.
Cristil, 85, who also announced Tupelo High School Golden Wave football and basketball broadcasts for decades, for 58 years has been MSU’s consistently excellent trademark. Few others come close to equaling his tenure, and his legacy stands with other great SEC sports voices like John Ward of the University of Tennessee and Larry Munson of the University of Georgia.
Former Tupelo High press box colleague Norris Caldwell, the PA announcer, said Cristil’s foundation for expert announcing was his personal knowledge of the game. “He was a baseball and football player in high school, and he knew what he was describing,” Caldwell said.
Cristil also saw the huge changes in southern athletics unfold through the desegregation crisis of the early 1960s and the unfortunate reluctance of Mississippi State and the University of Mississippi to recruit black athletes for a time even after integration. Cristil was an eyewitness to the sea change in policy when MSU’s SEC champion basketball team in 1963 defied state law in accepting its rightful place in the NCAA tournament, where it would compete against black athletes.
Cristil, a Tupelo resident almost all of the years he has been the voice of the Bulldogs, has been active in civic life. He counts friends across Mississippi and the SEC states.
His remarkable tenure spans 60 percent of all the football games Mississippi State has played since first fielding a team in 1895.
MSU reported on its athletic website Thursday that Cristil called 636 football games. He is in his 54th season as the men’s basketball play-by-play voice, and has announced 55 percent of all the men’s basketball games played at the school. In all, Cristil delivered game descriptions for more than 1,500 collegiate contests.
His final football game was the Bulldogs’ resounding 52-14 win against Michigan at the Gator Bowl this year .
Cristil’s final broadcast for MSU begins at 5 p.m. Saturday from Thompson-Bolling Arena at the University of Tennessee. Every sports fan should make an effort to listen and capture the moment in memory.
We wish him improving health and a happy retirement after a benchmark career with the Bulldogs and MSU. Wrap it in Maroon and White.