In the sports universe, the offseason has always been a time to rest, re-tool and plan for the next year.
It’s also during this time that game rules are updated, tossed or added.
For coaches and players, they must be familiar with any rule changes before a new season begins.
However, some changes and additions are met with laughter and raised eyebrows.
During the Big 12 media days this past week, Big 12 coordinator of officials Greg Burks shared that the league would be cracking down on taunting in 2021.
Included in the crack down is the infamous “horns down” gesture typically aimed at University of Texas players and fans.
Big 12 officiating coordinator Greg Burks:
"If you do a Horns Down to a Texas player as an opponent, that's going to be a foul."
— PFF College (@PFF_College) July 15, 2021
Until now, the gesture had been a judgement call for officials.
It appears that is about to change.
“Lemme put it this way,” Burks said. “If you do a Horns Down to a Texas player as an opponent, that’s probably going to be a foul.”
Burks then explained that, if a player turned to the crowd and flashed the sign it would “probably” not be a penalty.
“Please all of you note, I said ‘probably,'” Burks added. “We have to consider intent and consider the situation. We’ll leave it to officials.”
To any casual fan, it could be reasonably assumed that the “intent” of flashing the sign likely isn’t to endear oneself to the Longhorn faithful.
The new ‘rule’ comes across as vague and Burks comments don’t help.
Any player can claim that they were flashing the sign at the crowd even if they are pointed in the direction of a Texas athlete.
It will once again turn into a judgment call for the officials and we’ll be right back to where we were before the ‘change.’
Predictably, once word spread about the crack down on ‘horns down,’ college and NFL players had something to say.
Notably, Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield, a former Sooner athlete, shared his take.
Mayfield has been known to throw the gesture from time to time even as a pro.
In a Twitter post from his account on Friday, Mayfield voiced his displeasure of the rule change.
“The following content might offend some viewers, the mentally weak ones of course…”
Below the caption, pictures of Mayfield flashing the sign are displayed.
— Baker Mayfield (@bakermayfield) July 16, 2021
Since Big 12 officials have no jurisdiction in the NFL it is safe to say that Mayfield and other former Longhorn opponents will flash the sign this season.
Before touching on other talking points, Burks informed the media that, in the future, he hopes that other symbols similar to ‘horns down’ will meet the same fate.
“I promise you, we discuss this every year, because you discuss this every year,” Burks said. “I hope in the future that somebody else’s symbols will come into play and not just the Horns.”