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OU football: Big 12 coordinator of officials says horns down taunt will 'probably' be a penalty in 2021

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Jadon Haselwood horns down

Then-freshman wide receiver Jadon Haselwood after winning the Big 12 Championship game against Baylor Dec. 7, 2019.

ARLINGTON, Texas — Big 12 Coordinator of Officials Greg Burks knew the question was coming.

And as he wrapped up his opening press conference at Big 12 Media Days on Thursday, it did. "Will horns down be a penalty next season?" a reporter asked.

The horns down taunt, an infamous celebration commonly used by OU fans, turns Texas' signature hand sign upside down. The gesture started drawing unsportsmanlike penalties in 2018, with the most notable incident involving West Virginia taking a 15-yard penalty when its players flashed horns down after scoring the game-winning two-point conversion in 42-41 win over Texas that season.

After that game, head coach Lincoln Riley announced his players would not be using the taunt during the 2018 Big 12 Championship. Since then, the Sooners have waited to use horns down until after matchups with the Longhorns and other teams.

“Let me put it this way, if you do horns down to a Texas player, as an opponent, that’s probably going to be a foul,” Burks said on Thursday. “If you turn to your crowd and do a ‘horns down,’ you’re not taunting an individual or an opponent, so it probably won’t be a foul.

“Please all of you note, that I said probably. We have to consider intent. And we have to consider situation. And so those judgments I will leave to our individual officials.”

Newly hired Texas head coach Steve Sarkisian will make his Red River Showdown debut when the Longhorns face Riley's Sooners on Oct. 9 in Dallas.

Sarkisian previously served as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach under Nick Saban at Alabama. Sarkisian was given the Broyles Award in 2020, presented to the country's top assistant. He's also served as the head coach at Washington and USC.

Chandler Engelbrecht is a journalism senior and the Daily's assistant sports editor. He currently covers OU football and has previously covered OU men's basketball, volleyball and men's gymnastics.

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