A tradition etched in Oklahoma-Texas football lore could be sidelined during Saturday’s Big 12 championship game between the bitter rivals.
Lincoln Riley, during his Tuesday night radio show, indicated that OU football players can’t display the “Horns down” hand gesture.
During Monday’s news conference in Norman, the Sooners coach said he was working on some clarification with the Big 12.
“We can’t do it,” Riley told host Chris Plank. “Listen, it doesn’t matter. We’re there to go play a football game.”
Oklahoma would likely risk a penalty if its players displayed the upside-down “Hook’ em” hand sign during the 11 a.m. game at AT&T Stadium.
On Wednesday afternoon, the Big 12 released a statement on social media: “If in the judgement of the on-field officials, any action by game participants deemed an ‘Unsportsmanlike Act’ is subject to penalty in accordance with college football rules.”
The league referred to NCAA rule 9.1 which reads: “There shall be no unsportsmanlike conduct or any act that interferes with orderly game administration on the part of players, substitutes, coaches, authorized attendants or any other persons subject to the rules, before the game, during the game or between periods. Infractions for these acts by players are administered as either live-ball or dead-ball fouls depending on when they occur.”
The rule includes reference to taunting.
There was a precedent set for a 15-yard penalty for the gesture. In the Texas-West Virginia game earlier this season, wide receiver David Sills caught a touchdown pass and was flagged for making the “Horns down” gesture.
Quarterback Will Grier also flashed a double ‘Horns down’ signal after scoring on a game-winning two-point conversion against Texas.
After the game, Longhorns coach Tom Herman was upset about the gestures.
“I thought taunting before you cross the goal line negated a score,” Herman said. “I’ve got to brush up on my rules and get some questions answered.”
Meanwhile, Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger sent out a now-deleted tweet that said “I remember every single team/player that disrespects the rich tradition of the University of Texas by putting the Horns down. Do not think it will be forgotten in the future.”
Oklahoma was penalized 15 yards during the TCU game for a touchdown celebration set up by wide receivers Marquise Brown and CeeDee Lamb. After the yardage was walked off on the following kickoff, TCU’s KaVontae Turpin took advantage with a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown on a shortened kickoff.
Last week, Texas linebacker Breckyn Hager was issued a public reprimand from the Big 12 and asked to apologize for postgame comments he made directed at Oklahoma. While walking out, he was told that the Sooners allowed 40 points to Kansas.
“OU has no defense,” Hager said, before adding “It’s 11:12 and OU still sucks.”