Oklahoma Sooners coach Lincoln Riley has decreed that his team will not use the Horns Down hand signal during their game this weekend against the Texas Longhorns. No matter how many points they score.
Riley should be commended for this decision as Horns Down is one of the most disrespectful things you can do in the state of Texas. No, wait. In the entire country. It is the equivalent of chanting "Uber" at an entire fanbase of good ol' boys. In fact, I'm uncomfortable even typing out the full phrase. From here on out, I'll refer to it as "the very bad, inappropriate, and immature opposite of Horns Up," or "H-rns D-wn."
Much like the NBA choosing the Chinese market over supporting free speech, Riley has a financial motivation for this decision. The Big XII has said that the signal could result in a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty. That could be the difference between a win and a loss and Riley gets a $50,000 bonus if the Sooners make the conference championship game. A loss to Texas and they could be on the outside looking in at Baylor and the Longhorns.
Unfortunately, the league left some gray area in their decision to make H-rns D-wn penalize-able. Via WCHS:
"If somebody scores quickly, turns to their cheering section, and it's quick and they move on, we're not going to do anything with that," he said. "If it's to a bench or to another player, and it's prolonged, it would be an unsportsmanlike act. "Like any play, there is a degree, who it's directed at, if they do it in their bench area, we're not going to look at it. It would be like any other celebration foul, so it has to be like any other foul we have. Does it rise to the level we need to deal with that?"
The Big XII says that players can do it on the sidelines among themselves, but if it brings attention to the "individual rather than the team" it is a foul.
They obviously did not go far enough. No person should ever be allowed to do H-rns D-wn, lest they be penalized on a football field or fined by the law with the possibility of jail time. We need to rid our society of players drawing attention to themselves before they are able to profit off their own celebrity.
Here's what Mack Brown, who coached at Texas from 1998 to 2013, had to say about "H-rns D-wn" after a game in 2012. Via USA TODAY:
"The Horns Down is disrespectful," Brown said. "We ought to talk about that as a league."
Hear, hear, coach! The fact that it took seven years for the Big XII to address this action is downright negligent. It's been nearly a decade since the hand signal forced Vince Young to defend his college's honor at a strip club. Who knows how many other lives were ruined because of this disgusting motion.
So Riley and the Big XII's decisions are a step in the right direction. We, as a society that loves the beautiful and violent and dangerous sport of football, need to move past this repulsive gesture. Harmless parodies of other silly hand signals may have been acceptable back in Barry Switzer's day, but that doesn't make it right.