College football will not be the same in 2020, as Mike "Beef Ref" Defee will no longer be in his role as a Big XII referee. He will instead be training NFL officials to hopefully clean up some of their act.
But what a loss this is for college football. One of the most meme-able people in the game now gone. Even if you didn't know the name Mike Defee, you knew exactly who this guy was. Beef Ref even had so many people ask to take pictures with him that he had to be sure not to take any with people wearing their teams' gear, for fear of being seen as impartial.
The Athletic — On the topic of that celebrity, while talking to him in 2018, he shared a story with me about the 2014 Rose Bowl. It highlighted how serious he took impartiality.
“I don’t mind taking pictures with people, provided they’re not dressed in their team’s apparel,” he said. “A number of years ago, I worked the Rose Bowl with Michigan State and Stanford. We were back at the hotel after the game, and a Michigan State fan recognized me and wanted to get a picture with him and his wife. I said I can, but not with (the Michigan State gear). He starts taking off all his clothes. He was down to the last shirt he had, and it had a Spartan logo on his pocket. I pulled him close to me where I was in front and covered that logo with my arm around him, so you couldn’t tell.
Defee became nationally recognizable when he was the referee for the 2017 National Championship Game between Alabama and Clemson, which turned him into a viral meme for his ripped arms.
This is a sad day for the college football community. Ed Hochuli walked so Mike Defee could fly; but the time has come to set him free. So long, Beef Ref. We hardly knew ye.