Big 12's coordinator of officials on whether Horns Down celebration is a penalty: 'It depends'


Surely, leaving the Big 12's most sensitive celebration up to ambiguous interpretation won't be any cause for concern. Nope, not at all. 

Horns down -- which, for the uninitiated, involves taking Texas' Horns up celebration and turning it upside down in a more taunting fashion -- has been a thing for a long time. It gained new life, however, during West Virginia's 42-41 win over the Longhorns last November. Mountaineers quarterback Will Grier and receiver David Sills both flashed the Horns down after respective scores, resulting in penalties and, as a result, outrage that it would be flagged in the first place. (As a side note, ex-WVU coach Dana Holgorsen provided some background insight on the celebration to ESPN.) 

That feeling spilled over into Big 12 Media Days when the conference's coordinator of officials, Greg Burke, didn't exactly provide any consistency on how Horns down would be handled in the future. When asked if it would be a penalty, Burke said "it depends" on to whom the celebration is directed. Citing Grier's example, Burke said such an instance would "probably" be a flag. 

"It depends" and "probably" aren't really the words you'd like to hear the Big 12 take on this subject. Horns down is either a penalty or it isn't. Furthermore, players are more likely to do it on the field instead of their respective sidelines since the whole point is to flash it where Texas fans/players/coaches can see it. That's what a celebration is in any sport involving any teams. 

And if it is a penalty, then by the same logic it can't simply apply to Horns down. Is Horns up a taunting penalty? How about another team celebration? 

If all of that seems like splitting hairs, that's because it is -- which is to say that Horns down shouldn't even be a penalty in the first place. 

CBS Sports Writer

Ben Kercheval joined CBS Sports in 2016 and has been covering college football since 2010. Before CBS, Ben worked at Bleacher Report, UPROXX Sports and NBC Sports. As a long-suffering North Texas graduate,... Full Bio

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