Big 12 to Emphasize Penalties for Taunting, Including Use of 'Horns Down' Gesture

Adam WellsJuly 15, 2021

Oklahoma tight end Brayden Willis (81) flashes the "horns down" sign after beating Texas 39-27 in the Big 12 Conference championship NCAA college football game on Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Jeffrey McWhorter)
AP Photo/Jeffrey McWhorter

The Big 12 will crack down on players who taunt opponents this season. 

Speaking to reporters Thursday, Big 12 coordinator of officials Greg Burks said enforcing taunting penalties, particularly the "horns down" gesture, will be a point of emphasis during football games. 

"If you do a horns down to a Texas player as an opponent, that's probably going to be a foul, Burks said.

Burks did note that opposing players who do the horns down gesture to the crowd, rather than a player, likely won't be penalized. 

There has never been a definitive rule on use of the gesture. Big 12 officials have flagged players for unsportsmanlike conduct in the past when they throw the horns down signal. 

Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby told reporters in Dec. 2018 that a penalty for the gesture is left up to the discretion of the officiating crew. 

Bowlsby's comments came after West Virginia was called for two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties in a game against Texas on Nov. 3, 2018. Mountaineers quarterback Will Grier was penalized after scoring the game-winning two-point conversion with 16 seconds remaining. 

FOX College Football @CFBONFOX

WILL GRIER. 2-POINT CONVERSION WITH THE GAME ON THE LINE.<br><br>This man's got ice in his veins, y'all. <a href="https://t.co/CQikTxeA8J">pic.twitter.com/CQikTxeA8J</a>

Fans and athletes at the University of Texas have used the Hook 'Em Horns hand gesture for decades. 

Many of Texas' rival schools, including Oklahoma and West Virginia, have taken to flipping the gesture upside down when they have a big play against the Longhorns or defeat them in a game.    


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