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Referee Reggie Smith retires to join NBC

As NBC expands its college football slate, the network adds a rules analyst



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NBC has announced that it has hired Big Ten referee Reggie Smith as a rules analyst.

Because NBC has diversified its college football portfolio, adding Big Ten conference games to complement its solitary investment in Notre Dame, there was a need to bring another rules analyst on board. Terry McAulay, the three-time Super Bowl referee, is entering his 6th season with the network in that role. McAulay and Smith will work games both on NBC and those exclusive to the Peacock streaming platform.

Smith was a referee in the Big 12 conference from 2009 through 2019 and moved over to the Big Ten for the past three seasons. His Big 12 departure coincided with the retirement of three other referees from the conference. He was also a referee in both seasons of the revived XFL and the 2019 Alliance of American Football. He was in line for a potential promotion to the NFL having spent a couple of seasons in the NFL’s development program, working a 2016 preseason game in San Diego, and officiating in the final season of NFL Europe in 2007. His last game on the field was the XFL North Division Championship and his most recent bowl game was the Duke’s Mayo Bowl between North Carolina and South Carolina after the 2021 season. He also headed the crew for the 2015 Rose Bowl and the 2019 Orange Bowl.

The Big Ten need not worry about the vacancy caused by Smith. Conference officiating coordinator Bill Carollo has been on a hiring spree, luring four referees from the Pac-12, and hiring more than a dozen at other positions, according to two officiating sources.

Smith graduated from Robert Morris University in 2004, which places him in his early 40s, which is typical mid-career for an FBS-level referee and squarely within the hiring window of the NFL. Suffice to say, if not for a television contract offer, Smith had a lot of grass time left. Upon McAulay’s NFL retirement, we noted that he probably gave up at least one future Super Bowl ring.

McAulay will continue to be the analyst for Sunday Night Football and Smith will allow McAulay to have a little more space in his schedule as the network will air 31 college games, an NBC record. During the broadcasts, McAulay is based in the NBC Sports studios in Stamford, Conn.

On another note, McAulay deleted his @SNFRules account on X this offseason, which was never his preferred platform in the first place. ESPN rules analyst John Parry also deleted his account after about a year at the network a few years ago.

Smith’s debut is not yet known, as the press release indicates some season-opening marquee games are going to McAulay: Navy vs. Notre Dame (Aug. 26 from Ireland), East Carolina at Michigan (Sept. 2, midday), and West Virginia at Penn State (Sept. 2, night). It is possible Smith will be on duty for the afternoon contest between Tennessee State and Notre Dame on Sept. 2.

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)