The man behind the mic

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    He’s been a mainstay at TCU baseball, basketball, football, soccer and volleyball games since 2004, when the Horned Frogs were a part of the Conference USA.

    TCU fans can instantly associate his voice with TCU Athletics.

    In the midst of the ever-changing landscape of TCU Athletics, one thing hasn’t changed over the last 10 years: TCU public address announcer Jeff Smith. 

    Smith said the expectations of his job have slightly changed since 2004.

    In a span of 10 years, the Frogs have hopped from the Conference USA, to the Mountain West, to a short-lived stint in the Big East and then to where they are today, the Big 12.

    “The job is a little bit more serious than it used to be,” Smith said. “Back when I started in ’04, you could maybe get away with a little more, fly by the seat of your pants a little bit, but it’s become much more structured with TCU becoming a nationally recognized school and moving to the Big 12.”

    Like TCU, Smith has experienced growth over the course of his public address career. He began calling basketball games for Mansfield High School in 1985 after he attended a game that was absent of a PA announcer.

    “A young lady picked up the mic and introduced the starting five, then put the mic down and I thought, ‘That’s all you’re going to do?’” Smith said.

    Smith said he dreamed of a career as a play-by-play broadcaster before delving into the public address world. He said he received advice from the former voice of the Dallas Mavericks, Kevin McCarthy, about how to get started.

    “McCarthy’s words came back to me about gaining experience in a small market first, so after the game I met the head coach and they gave me the job that night,” Smith said.

    Kevin McCarthy’s advice had been sound. Smith’s PA responsibilities in the Mansfield school district eventually led to him taking over some of TCU’s public address needs.

    “I started at TCU doing volleyball games, and that opened the door to where I eventually got to do other sports. I do the internal PA for the football team, some soccer, volleyball, women’s basketball, some swimming and diving, equestrian, and baseball, and occasionally a men’s basketball game,” he said.

    Public address announcing is what Smith said he calls his “fun job,” but that’s not a knock on what he does day-to-day to support his family of five.

    Smith is a legal assistant for a law firm in Burleson that specializes in patents, copyrights, and trademarks. Smith said he feels fortunate to work somewhere that allows a flexible schedule and time for the important things in life, like attending his sons’ sporting events.

    “My boss is a big sports fan and he’s been real supportive,” Smith said. “He knows that I do TCU stuff on the side, so he’ll let me leave early if I need to or go follow my sons’ baseball and basketball games, so he’s been great.”

    Smith has three sons: Jacob, a freshman at Hill College, and Joel and Isaac, 4th and 6th graders in the Burleson School District.

    Smith said his kids all think his job is pretty cool.

    “They get excited that their dad gets to do the games from time to time,” Smith said. “I’ll bring them out to the ballpark to watch and they really enjoy it.”

    Working two time-consuming jobs would be challenging for any family, and Smith said he credits his wife of 24 years, Sheila, for continuing to support him throughout the years.

    He’s a legal assistant by day and a PA announcer by night, though he said the nights he calls games changes about every week.

    “I think when she first started dating me, she probably thought the announcing was going to be a passing thing, but now we’ve been married for 24 years and it hasn’t gone away, she’s accepted that,” Smith said. “Every week she asks me, ‘What’s your week look like?’ because no week is ever the same when you do this job.”

    No season for any Division I program is the same, either.

    Smith said he has found the cutthroat nature of the coaching profession in high-profile athletic programs to be one of the more difficult aspects of his job.

    “I’m very passionate and I get emotional and I tend to get attached, and that’s not necessarily a good thing to get attached to coaches when coaching isn’t the most secure profession in the world,” Smith said.

    “Most coaches are great people with families you come to know during their time at TCU, so to see some of those families go has been a challenge over the years I’ve been here.”

    Smith says he understands the nature of the coaching business and the expectations placed on coaches now that TCU is in a Power Five conference.

    “The Big 12 is a different animal and the athletes are different, so to get that athlete to play at a school you have to have the facilities and to provide and deliver,” Smith said. “TCU’s done a good job the last four years to have the upgraded facilities.”

    After 10 years at TCU, Smith said he credits his success to the people in the athletic department.

    “I’m thankful that I work for sports marketing and I’m thankful for directors and assistant directors that come to work every day and work for the sports I announce for,” Smith said.