AUG 25


We’ll waste no time addressing Mike Defee’s Popeye‑the‑Sailor‑style arms in an effort to satisfy one of the rages on social media these days.

Yes, perhaps the finest college football official working today is built with the physique that would put a bouncer to shame, so we’ll deal with his ultra‑masculine side as a start and then move on to reinforce the identity that should truly define Michael Vincent Defee.

The bottom line is this: Defee is to college football officials what Ed Hochuli is to the NFL in terms of being buff. But the man, and not his muscles, is what should really dominate any conversation about him.

So, first things first. This dude indeed has a macho side that his pipes suggest. Taught to box during his youth in Nederland, Texas, by his father, a former Golden Gloves champion, Defee fearlessly took on kids who sometimes outweighed him by 50 pounds. And yet he held his own in a ring so well that he regrets putting down his gloves to this day.

There was that time he saw a bully knock the books out of some poor kid’s hands in a corridor of Nederland High School in the late 1970s.

Bad move, bully.

Defee followed him for a spell before taking a flying leap at the punk and slamming his head into his locker door. “I wanted to make sure he knew what it was like to be taken advantage of,” Defee said.

This is a man who bow hunts in his leisure time and was downright John‑Wayne macho without a script that August day in 2016 when Defee, a licensed pilot, found himself enveloped by ominous thickening clouds in Texas skies while flying home from a scrimmage at Iowa State.

With the possibility of spatial disorientation causing him to helplessly turn his Cessna TTX 240 into a graveyard spiral, a fate that doomed John F. Kennedy Jr. some years ago, Defee instead forced himself to rely on instruments — something he was not yet qualified to do — to safely descend out of the murk.

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