There are certain things you can’t unsee, and the Oklahoma Sooners might just have a case for throwing “Horns Down.”

From the Oklahoma Sooners to the Texas Tech Red Raiders, players have been flagged on multiple occasions and throughout multiple seasons for throwing “Horns Down” while playing the Texas Longhorns. The biggest issue many have with this is that nowhere in college football history can fans truly recall a situation where a team’s brand is protected to the point of unsportsmanlike conduct penalties for “disrespecting” hand gestures.

Was Bowling Green flagged after the “Gator Chomp” back in 2012?

USC’s drum major was prohibited from stabbing the 50-yard-line at the Rose Bowl, and Kansas banned Bevo from the sideline this year. But never in history has an entire conference been put on notice that any misuse of a particular team’s hand gestures will receive penalties, which is why any preferential treatment is laughable.

But for the Oklahoma Sooners, they might just have a real case for using the “Horns Down” hand gesture: it’s in their logo.

You be the judge.

It might seem like I’m revisiting an old issue here, but with Oklahoma playing the Alabama Crimson Tide in the Orange Bowl, it will be interesting to see banter between the two teams. I don’t think we’ll see any hand gesture exchanges–especially with the offensive numbers both teams are expected to put up. But given how ridiculous the “Horns Down” debate has become, if the Sooners can pull off a win, I wouldn’t be surprised to see it in some capacity.

Last month during the lead up to the Big 12 Championship game, Sooners’ head coach Lincoln Riley confirmed that the Big 12 put them on notice, and if the “Horns Down” gesture was used, they would be penalized. Most fans in the Big 12–including Texas fans–agree the conference shouldn’t be involved in this, and should let the teams settle this where it matters.

Texas players, however, disagree.

After Texas lost to West Virginia, several Longhorns’ players said the hand gesture was “disrespectful,” and that they didn’t disrespect other teams’ hand gestures, so the issue should be mutual. Considering this is the second consecutive season where teams have been flagged for throwing “Horns Down,” I don’t expect this issue to go away anytime soon, but it’s certainly something to think about, especially with Texas back on a winning trajectory.

In 2012, former Texas head coach Mack Brown had this to say in response to a Texas Tech player throwing “Horns Down:”

Apparently, Texas has spoken to the league about it, because here we are… still talking about it. What do y’all think: Should the Big 12 let players settle the “respect” issue on the field–where it matters? Or should this be an issue conferences control?
If it’s an issue the Big 12 tries to control, then does it only apply in games where Texas is playing? Consider when the West Virginia sideline used “Horns Down” in a play in its loss to Oklahoma State this season:

At what point does the conference decide to focus on things that matter, like expansion and promoting competition to build a stronger overall brand? Until then, we can only speculate why there’s such an emphasis on prohibiting “Horns Down” from the Big 12 playing field, but in any event, it’s still technically in the OU logo, so let’s see if Sooners’ players get creative with it next season.

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