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SEC football ref draws from faith by Grace Thornton/Alabama Baptist

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (BP) — It was a simple “yes” in 1987 that changed the next 30 years of Marc Curles’ life — yes, he did want that extra ticket to a University of Georgia football game.

“When I was in college, my sister was a year behind me, and her roommate’s father was an official in the SEC,” Curles said. “He sent tickets to his daughter, and they had a spare ticket to the game he was calling that weekend.”

Curles took it — he loved football. And he watched the Bulldogs, sure — but for the first time, he was watching the guys in the black and white stripes just as much.

“I watched her dad all during the game, and it looked like it was a lot of fun,” Curles said.

‘Gratifying to not be noticed’

He remembers leaning over the fence that night and asking her dad how he could become a referee too.

“He encouraged me and connected me with a high school officials’ association in Atlanta,” Curles said.

In the years that followed, Curles would make hundreds and hundreds of official calls. He would work his way up from high school through the college divisions and into the Southeastern Conference in 2006.

“It’s the most gratifying feeling when you walk off the field and feel like you officiated a really good game and no one even noticed you were there,” he said.

One such game was the 2016 Alamo Bowl, where TCU came back from trailing 31–0 at halftime to beat Oregon 47–41 in triple overtime. They tied the record for the biggest comeback in bowl history.

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