Mike Defee minced zero words before the game, and he wasn’t about to start afterward.
Prior to the start of the 115th edition of the Red River Shootout, myriad players from both sides of the Oklahoma-Texas rivalry were involved in a feisty pregame scrum near midfield of the Cotton Bowl. The fracas led the officiating crew, including the referee, Defee, to assess an unsportsmanlike conduct foul on every single member of both teams, which meant that a similar in-game foul would automatically result in an ejection.
Such an occurrence never came to fruition as both teams behaved themselves throughout the game, which turned into a tight 34-27 win for the Sooners.
Speaking to a pool reporter after the game, Defee was asked about the pregame festivities. Calling it “an embarrassment,” Defee made it very clear that he was decidedly displeased with how the on-field situation unfolded.
From The Oklahoman:
They both came together and started jawing and started pushing. I’m not sure there weren’t punches thrown. I got hit a couple times. My head linesman got hit. It was just clear-cut because I had warned both coaches prior to the start of the game about how we were going to manage pregame and that we wanted to get this game started without incident.
We’ve got two of the best teams in the country, let alone the Big 12 Conference,. This is the 115th playing of this great game and to have that kind of thing happen is disappointing. We can’t control that as officials. … What happened out there is an embarrassment to everyone.
At least one member of the winning coaching staff, it should be noted, appreciated the officiating crew’s efforts in reining in the pregame emotions.