When No. 6 Oklahoma and No. 11 Texas face off in the Cotton Bowl for the Red River Showdown on Saturday, you will probably see many "Horns Up" hand signs. You will not see anyone, however, on Oklahoma's sideline giving the "Horns Down" -- at least not according to coach Lincoln Riley.
"Yeah, we won't," said Riley to reporters on Monday. "Our players won't do it. Yeah, our players won't do it, just like the Big 12 [Championship] Game."
Fans are another story, as they often are.
But Riley has clearly drilled it into his players' collective conscious not to utilize the "Horns Down" sign, if for no other reason than it would likely result in an unnecessary 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty. Coaches freaking hate those, and not just because they're free yards for the opponent. They crumble the very facade that football -- a violent, emotional game -- is played with maturity from young men acting like they've been there before.
Yes, for the still uninitiated, displaying the "Horns Down" in a taunting fashion is a penalty. It was agreed upon over the offseason and communicated by Big 12 Coordinator of Officials Greg Burks. West Virginia, a team notoriously penalized for it, is still mad about it, too.
"It's like any unsportsmanlike act. 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," Burks 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?
Of course, the you'll-know-it-when-you-see-it nature of taunting is in the eye of beholder, which is an all-time bad barometer in high-stakes games. it's also worth at least wondering out loud whether Texas players will be flagged for giving the "Horns Up" to the opposing bench, should such an occasion arise.
Feelings are complicated, you see, and so is feelingsball.