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2016 Postseason2016 Conference ChampionshipsVinovich and McAulay are Conference Championship referees

Vinovich and McAulay are Conference Championship referees

Football Zebras exclusive

Football Zebras has confirmed that Bill Vinovich will be the referee for the NFC Championship game and Terry McAulay will lead the crew in the AFC Championship.

Vinovich is on a championship game three-peat, having worked last year’s NFC Championship and Super Bowl XLIX the year before. The year before that Super Bowl, McAulay was the referee in Super Bowl XLVIII.

All times are Eastern.

Three alternates are assigned to each game: generally, one is designated for the offensive backfield (a referee or umpire), one is on the line of scrimmage (head linesman or line judge), and one is a deep position (side judge, field judge, or back judge). When alternates are listed, their position during the regular season is also given. The prior playoff experience that is listed for the crew chief includes his service as an NFL official, including as referee and any other crew position (excluding alternate assignments). 

NFC Championship Game, Packers at Falcons, 3:05 p.m. (Fox)

Bill Vinovich was the referee in last year’s NFC Championship and Super Bowl XLIX in the 2014 season, which means he has graded at or near the top in three consecutive seasons. Although Vinovich is in his 12th year as an official — and 9th as referee — those seasons were not consecutive, as Vinovich was sidelined with an aortic aneurysm in 2006. He left the field to work in the league office as an officiating supervisor and grader. Doctors gave Vinovich a clean bill of health, and he returned to the field after the 2012 labor impasse with the referee’s union.

Vinovich was hired by the NFL in 2001, making this his 16th season of NFL service.

This is his 9th postseason assignment and 3rd Conference Championship. He has also worked 2 Wild Card Playoffs, 3 Divisional Playoffs, and the Super Bowl.

Vinovich lives in Lake Forest, Calif., and is a Division I college basketball referee and a certified public accountant.

      Yrs 2016 crew College Occupation
R 52 Bill Vinovich 12   San Diego accountant, former NFL officiating supervisor
U 121 Paul King 8 Torbert Nicholls State school teacher
HL 28 Mark Hittner 20 Wrolstad Pittsburg State investment broker
LJ 10 Julian Mapp 8 Wrolstad Grambling State software QA tester
FJ 97 Tom Hill 18 Allen Carson Newman teacher
SJ 80 Greg Gautreaux 15 Torbert SW Louisiana athletic programs manager
BJ 93 Scott Helverson 14 Hochuli Iowa sales, printing and promotions
  • Replay: Paul Weidner
  • Alternates: Walt Anderson (R), John McGrath (HL), Gary Cavaletto (SJ)

AFC Championship Game, Steelers at Patriots, 6:40 p.m. (CBS)

Terry McAulay is in his 19th season as an NFL official and 16th as referee. McAulay will be working his 17th postseason assignment, including 2 Wild Card Playoffs, 4 Divisional Playoffs, 8 Conference Championships, and Super Bowls XXXIX, XLIII, and XLVIII. His Super Bowl assignments were all as a referee.

The 11 assignments between conference and league title games is the most of any active referee, surpassing Ed Hochuli’s 10. McAulay also was the referee for the 1998 BCS Championship at Miami’s Orange Bowl in his final year as referee for the Atlantic Coast Conference.

His most recent postseason game was the Divisional Playoff game last year between the Steelers and the Broncos.

McAulay lives in Glenwood, Md., and is the coordinator of football officiating for the American Athletic Conference, a position he has held since 2008 with the conference’s predecessor, the Big East.

      Yrs 2016 crew College Occupation
R 77 Terry McAulay 19   Louisiana State college officiating coordinator
U 49 Rich Hall 13 Boger Arizona custom cabinetry
HL 106 Wayne Mackie 10 Hussey Colgate director of operations, housing
LJ 9 Mark Perlman 16 Vinovich Salem teacher
FJ 3 Scott Edwards 18 Triplette Alabama environmental engineer
SJ 41 Boris Cheek 21 Morelli Morgan State director of operations and management
BJ 112 Tony Steratore 17 Boger California (Pa.) co-owner, supply company
  • Replay: Mike Wimmer
  • Alternates: John Parry (R), Mark Steinkerchner (LJ), Rich Martinez (BJ)
Ben Austro
Ben Austro
Ben Austro is the editor and founder of Football Zebras and the author of So You Think You Know Football?: The Armchair Ref's Guide to the Official Rules (on sale now)

22 thoughts on “Vinovich and McAulay are Conference Championship referees

  1. You know, I predicted Vinovich and Blakeman, but based on reactions that I think we’re about to get, I’m happy to be wrong.

    Congrats to both Vinovich and McAulay and their crews.

  2. I dont understand how its always the same group getting the same conference championships or the ones whom have never had a superbowl not even getting post season work Mr Dean Blandino i think you maybe drop the ball again this year im not bias but there are Def MORE deserving guys based on the year then a Terry or Bill

  3. I just puked for the second time today! First time was when I saw the commercial with Sara and now that 77 is working in NE. Here is to bitter cold weather, snow and sleet in Foxboro on Sunday. Glad to see Vinovich working in Atl.

  4. Glad to see Paul King 121 as the NFC umpire.
    Worked with him for years in my younger days and he always showed a lot of poise and confidence as an official.
    Wish him well in this assignment.
    Jerry Poulin

  5. Interesting that Vinovich not only is working back-to-back conference title games, but both are NFC. Also, last year’s Super Bowl referee, Clete Blakeman, gets shut out of the playoffs this year.

  6. When a Referee gets a Super Bowl One year he is not eligible for the playoffs the next year. This is the case with Clete Blakman next Carl Cheffers will not get a game

  7. Just to add. Carl Cheffers is rumoured to be the Referee in the Super Bowl – He will not get a playoff game next year.

  8. Roy, while that is normally true it is not a given. Two years ago Terry McAulay worked a second round game (Panthers@Seahawks) after working the Super Bowl the previous year and last year Bill Vinovich worked the NFC Championship the year after working the Super Bowl

  9. Regarding assignments the year after the Super Bowl, officials are placed into three tiers: 1) those who the league would feel comfortable working Conference Championship or Super Bowl, 2) those who need remedial training, and 3) everyone else. If a Referee is in the 1st tier the year after the Super Bowl, the league will give the official a playoff game. If they fall into any of the oter tiers the league will not unless there are an insufficient number of Referees with playoff eligible grades.

  10. Gene Steratore is by far the best referee in the NFL, it’s ridiculous he does not have either the Superbowl or either of the conf. championship games.

  11. If you include the playoffs, Patriots are 10-5 (.667) with Steratard since he became a ref in 2006, which is worse than their total record since 2006, 151-46 (.766)

  12. It’s been over a year since Leroy Kelly began his crusade against Terry McAulay. Week after week, he went after one of the NFL’s most accomplished and celebrated referees. All he had was rhetoric, hyperbole, and personal attacks. The criticisms were far from justified. And now, given that Terry McAulay will be the referee Sunday night in New England, working his 7th conference championship as a ref, this just further proves how wrong he was/is. Furthermore, his main man Walt Coleman won’t be on the field for a playoff game again.

    Leroy, man up and admit that you were wrong. Admit that you weren’t being truly objective. To quote you, “Everyone wins that way. The league wins….the fans certainly win….and the game is better for it.” Let the people win Leroy; admit the error of your ways.

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