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An open letter to the Big 12: You're killing the best rivalry in college football

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CeeDee Lamb Horns Down

Sophomore wide receiver CeeDee Lamb throws the 'horns down' sign during the Red River Showdown Oct. 6.

Dear Big 12,

You done messed up. Again.

The Big 12 has few things over other power five conferences, one of them being the Red River Showdown — a game considered one of the best rivalries in sports. But this week, leading up to maybe the biggest conference championship the Big 12 has ever had, you decided to screw it up. You decided to take the spotlight off the game and instead put it on a hand gesture — horns up for Longhorns’ fans, horns down for Sooners’ fans — that has been a staple of this game and everything that surrounds it for 118 years.

You decided to neuter “horns down” and, soon with it, the rivalry itself.

Each year, there is one game in the Big 12 that nearly every college football fan looks to. Yep, you guessed it — OU-Texas in the Cotton Bowl on the first or second weekend in October. And now that the Big 12 somehow gets that game for a second time in one season, this time with a lot higher stakes in one of the best venues in sports, the Big 12 is going to ruin it by making a new rule just so a coach and his quarterback don’t get their feelings hurt.

Classic Big 12.

For far too long Texas has controlled this league.

There’s a reason four teams have left the conference and no one but BYU and Boise State want in it. There’s a reason former Oklahoma President David Boren called the Big 12 “psychologically disadvantaged.” There’s a reason the Big 12 continues to be the laughingstock of college football.

It’s for things like penalizing a signature hand gesture and taking the side of Texas once again. More people watched OU-Army on Twitch than saw one of the biggest games of the year, Texas-Iowa State, because of its precious Longhorn Network. It's a joke.

"Bottom line is they don't seem to have a problem with it when they're doing well and they put it in everyone else's face,” former Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said in 2012 after former Texas coach Mack Brown said he thought horns down was disrespectful. “When they're not and someone else does it, you get it the other way. So be it."

Stop taking the side of Texas and start taking the side of the rivalry.

Come Saturday, I hope OU players flash the horns down. I hope Breckyn Hager runs out with a sign saying “OU sucks.” I hope Lincoln Riley wears a shirt that says “Ok cool. Hook ‘Em.” I hope Sam Ehlinger and Kyler Murray don’t shake hands.

Because at the end of the day, that’s what this rivalry is all about: Hatred. And no matter how hard you try to kill it, that’s what it will always be about.

If there’s any consolation, perhaps it’s this. There’s one thing OU and Texas should hate more than each other: You.


George Stoia III

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George Stoia joined The Daily in the fall of 2016 as a sophomore and has covered the soccer team, both men's and women's basketball, as well as the football team for the past three years. He graduates in May 2020.

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