Dave Plati War Stories – Part II – Broadcasters: Keith Jackson; Joel Klatt; O.J. Simpson

Previously posted … Part I – “The Resignations of Bill McCartney and Rick Neuheisel” … can be found here

Dave Plati, whose official title is CU’s Associate Athletic Director / Media Relations Director (full bio can be found here) has been a part of CU athletics history for over four decades, and has many stories. He was kind enough to share some of them with CU at the Game

Joel Klatt (CU quarterback, 2002-05; currently FOX Sports’ lead college football game analyst)

Joel Klatt should credit me for his start (laughing), but (Klatt got his start in broadcasting) because I was so awful at something.

Altitude starting doing a weekly football prediction show. They would have us come down to their place in South Denver, and we got mileage reimbursement – that was it. There was no practice, no rehearsal. Now, you talk to Woody Paige, and he’ll tell you they rehearse “Around the Horn” (for ESPN) for hours before they go on the air. We had no prep at all.

There were three or four of us, and the host would just throw us questions, like ‘Dave, talk about this weekend’s Eastern Washington/Northern Colorado game’, and said something like, ‘I literally knew more about Russian nuclear technology than Eastern Washington football. UNC is going to win it’. Eastern Washington won like 45-0, and I looked like a total stooge.

I couldn’t make it one week, and they asked me, ‘Can you find somebody?’, and I said, ‘Joel Klatt might want to do it’. He may have been dabbling in some stuff at that point, but I don’t think he had done any TV yet. So he went down and did a show, and they called me, ‘Joel is really good. Do you mind if we replace you with him for the rest of the year?’. And I was like, ‘Yes! Thank you!’.

Joel turned out to be my go to guy during the whole Gary Barnett ordeal. I will never call it a scandal. It was media created, with the help of some regents. Joel was the go-to guy, every time we needed someone to speak and defend the program, Joel volunteered for it. He literally will credit me for helping him get started in the business and polishing himself as a broadcaster, and I credit him for being there every time we needed somebody who is smart, and well versed, who could represent the program.

A number of athletes who have gone on to do well in media, it’s because every single coach we have had here, to this day, has been media friendly. We been able place the athletes here in a number of interviews, and they get good at it, before they go on to the league.

Kordell (Stewart) will tell you that. Alfred (Williams) will tell you that. They got a good start here.

Keith Jackson

Jackson was almost like a second dad to me. They (ABC) hadn’t been here in years, but they were coming for the (1993) Miami game. So, it’s Thursday before the game, and we’re not really used to national television coming in on Thursday at the time to do interviews with players and coaches. At the time, when Jim Nantz and Pat Haden would come in (with CBS), they would come in on Friday.

So, I go to Mac and tell him that Keith Jackson was here, and wanted to talk with him. Coach Mac goes, ‘We don’t have time for that. Nobody told us they were coming today’. So I go back to Keith, and tell him, ‘Mac says he’s not going to do the interview’. Then Keith says, ‘Really? Well, you tell your coach that the $2 million that we are giving you for this game, we’re going to hold it back’. He was kidding.

I go back and tell Coach McCartney, ‘Hey, they’re talking about not paying the school’, and it goes ‘Really? What did you tell him?’. And I said, ‘What was I supposed to tell him? You said you didn’t want to do the interview. What was I supposed to tell him? Was I supposed to pretend that I couldn’t find you?’.

So Mac says ‘Alright. Alright. Tell me what I’ve got to do’. Now, I go back to Keith and tell him that it’s all set, and he goes, ‘What did you do?’, and I tell him that I had told Coach Mac what he had said, and he says, ‘You did? You stood up to him?’. And I won him over with that.

We did a bunch of other games with him, and, of course, there was the Michigan game. When he came to Boulder, he liked to go to Juanita’s, so we would go, and we developed a really good friendship. He would have me out to play golf at L.A. Country Club when we were out in California for spring break. We would have our tournament up north, and a couple of times we went south and we played a week later at the L.A. Country Club.

We would take our seniors, and one year Kane Webber (2000-04, third-team All-American as a senior) opened up eagle-birdie, and was all cocky. ‘This is an easy course. It’s not that hard’. Keith goes (remember to do this in your best Keith Jackson voice in your head), ‘Young man, if you think you are going to shoot a 59 today, you are sincerely mistaken’. (Webber went on to shoot a 73).

We would play golf in the morning, and then have lunch. Keith would always get a Cobb salad, the famous L.A. Country Club Cobb salad, and then he would tell stories for six hours. He would tell stories for hours, and I wouldn’t say a word.

He was telling us this story about doing a game he did, I think it was in Alabama, and this was in the mid-70’s. He goes out to the parking lot, and ‘there’s a hippie. Smoking weed on my car. I tell him, “Young man, you need to remove your keister from my car”. And the guy goes, “Fuck you, old man” … so I had to clock him’.

In 2003, my dad was out for the Nebraska game. They had Thanksgiving dinner down at Dolan’s. So they invited my dad and I down to Thanksgiving dinner. Keith sees us and waives us over to sit with him and his wife and Dan Fouts. He and my dad are about the same age, and they get to talking about players from the 40’s. I was looking at Fouts, and Fouts was looking at me like, ‘Who the hell are they talking about?’.

They invited me out to the Rose Bowl for Keith’s memorial last year, which was really cool, being down on the floor of the Rose Bowl. All of his former partners were up there, and at the memorial, Keith’s son brought the house down. He said, ‘You’re all familiar with my dad and his tone of voice, with phrases like, “Fumm-ble” and the “Big Uglies”. But what I remember is, “Lind-sey! Why are the garbage cans still in the driveway?”.

Chris Fowler (B.S., Journalism, University of Colorado, 1985; currently ABC’s Saturday Night Football play-by-play announcer)

I used to make him – he claims he doesn’t remember, but it’s true – he was covering women’s tennis during spring break when they were out on the coast. Back then, you had to wait for the coach to call the results in, so he would be there at 8, 9, 10 o’clock at night. Chris says, ‘I don’t remember that’, but yea, I think you did do that.

Back in the pre-computer days, we had to type up the stats, and he used to type the shell of the stats sheet, maybe on a Thursday or a Friday, and then have to align it on the typewriter when the results came in.

O.J. Simpson

At the 1989 (season) Orange Bowl, we stayed at the same hotel, the night before the game, but for the 1990 Orange Bowl, Mac moved us, the night before the game. So, O.J. Simpson goes on the air during the Rose Bowl (the afternoon before the Orange Bowl), and announces to the world that Colorado had switched hotels.

We were heckled by maybe two Notre Dame fans, but McCartney was angry, ‘You tell O.J. I didn’t appreciate that’. So later, during the pregame I’m on the field with two of my assistants, and see O.J., and I tell him, ‘O.J., I just wanted to relay to you that Coach McCartney really didn’t appreciate you revealing that we had switched hotels.’ His response? ‘No fuckin’ SID is going to tell O.J. Simpson what he can do’, poking at my chest.

My assistants saw the whole thing, and are like, ‘Wow”. Five minutes later, O.J. is back, and he’s like, ‘Dave! Dave ‘ol buddy. I need help with something’. So, I’m like, ‘this guy’s a psycho’. Of course, I forget about the whole thing until later when he was national news. Then I was like, ‘Yeah. I’ve seen this guy change personalities in the matter of five minutes’. And it wasn’t even me – I was the middle man. I would have liked to see him try and poke Mac in the chest … he probably would have.

Still to come … Memorable CU games (the 1986 Nebraska game; The 5th-down game; Salaam’s 1994 season); and some memorable occasions (inventing the “red zone”; Oklahoma State basketball team plane crash) …


3 Replies to “Dave Plati – On Broadcasters – Keith Jackson; Joel Klatt; O.J. Simpson”

  1. Great stuff Stu – thanks for sharing! Yet another reason why I visit this site multiple times per day (every day). Go Buffs

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