Oklahoma football: ‘Horns Down’ gets foul warning from Big 12 official

DALLAS, TX - OCTOBER 14: Baker Mayfield
DALLAS, TX - OCTOBER 14: Baker Mayfield /

Nowhere are the popular “Hook’em” and “Horns Down” gestures more prevalent than at the annual Red River rivalry game in Dallas every October.

For several years now, Big 12 officials have warned that they are cracking down on the Horns Down hand gesture when used on the field to taunt Longhorn players. But the verbal warnings have not always been enforced through action.

According to Big 12 director of officials Greg Burks, conference officials, the conference is going to get a lot more serious about penalizing teams for taunting an opposing player during the course of a game, and he made specific reference to the use of the the Horns Down hand signal.

Burks met with the media as part of Big 12 Media Days last week to discuss rule changes ahead of the 2021 season. He was quick to point out that taunting would be a particular point of emphasis.

It didn’t take long for the question-and-answer session to circle around to the subject that one reporter referred to as the “gift that keeps on giving,” meaning the fingers-down hand gesture directed at Texas.

"“Lemme put it this way, if you do a Horns Down to a Texas player as an opponent, that probably going to be a foul,” Burks said."

He went on to say, however, that if a player turned to the crowd and used the same hand signal, it “probably” would not draw a flag.

For the last several years, Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley has emphasized to Sooner players not to use the Horns Down gesture for any reason during the annual rivalry game with Texas — or at any time when Texas is the opponent — recognizing that it could easily result in a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty.

One of the biggest Horns Down cheerleaders has been former Sooner quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield, who wasted little time in turning to Twitter to express his thoughts on the subject.

Although it wasn’t brought up specifically, the assumption is that the same rule interpretation will apply if the “Hook’em” gesture is waved in the face of an Oklahoma player.

The crackdown Burks is alluding to isn’t just be directed at Oklahoma, because the Horns Down sign has become universal code among fans and players alike for dishing out a competitive response to the Longhorns’ prideful “hook’em” hand gesture.

"“We discuss this every year,” Burks said to reporters, “because you discuss this every year. I hope in the future that someone else’s symbols will come into play and not just the Horns.”"