DALLAS — Big 12 referee Mike Defee assessed unsportsmanlike conduct penalties to every player on the Texas Longhorns and Oklahoma Sooners before their game Saturday after a pregame incident in which Defee said he and his head linesman were hit by players.
“They both came together and started jawing and started pushing,” Defee said. “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 this game started without incident.”
All players were assessed the penalty even though several weren’t involved in the incident.
Defee told a pool reporter that the officials have jurisdiction on the field for one hour before kickoff. He said he had never called a penalty before a game in his career.
Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley said after the Sooners’ 34-27 victory that the teams need to time their warm-ups differently in order to avoid going into the tunnel at the same time.
“A little testy. The officiating crew decided they would nip it in the bud, gave everybody a personal foul, which is a big deal, because if any player on the field gets a dead-ball personal foul, they’re ejected. We talked about it. Both teams stayed pretty composed after that,” he said.
Defee echoed Riley in saying both teams ending warm-ups at the same time is “problematic,” adding that the incident was “completely unnecessary.” He said he didn’t receive a reaction from either head coach after issuing the unsportsmanlike conduct penalties to both teams.
“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. The primary responsibility of the officials is twofold outside of just the playing rules. One is player safety and two is the integrity of the game.
“What happened out there is an embarrassment to everyone. It shouldn’t happen.”
Texas coach Tom Herman said he didn’t know which of his players were involved but “it’s not something that we condone.”
“When you get in rivalry games like this, your emotions are going to be at an all-time high, and we’ve got to do a really good job restraining our emotion to retaliate,” he said.