As the Texas Longhorns fell to the No. 21 BYU Cougars 84-72 in Provo on Saturday, the national discourse wasn’t about the Cougars shooting 64.0 percent or ending a two-game losing streak. It wasn’t about the Longhorns ended a two-game winning streak, either.
It was about BYU students being forced to remove t-shirts with “horns down” painted on them sometime early in the game or before the game.
The front row of #BYU's student section, closest to the Texas bench, had white t-shirts with blue paint on that spelled out "Horns Down."— Mitch Harper (@Mitch_Harper) January 27, 2024
During the first media timeout, those students were asked to remove the shirts. #BYUHoops #Big12
After the win, Cougars head coach Mark Pope took the unprompted opportunity to address the incident at the end of his post-game press conference.
Before he left the presser, #BYU coach Mark Pope addressed the Horns Down shirts from the students in the postgame.— Mitch Harper (@Mitch_Harper) January 27, 2024
BYU asked the students to remove the shirts. https://t.co/ifPb7OrDLM pic.twitter.com/1ML1xBQV8P
“That’s not just us, that’s not how we roll,” said Pope. “It was a miscalculation [by] a couple of eager kids — we love the eagerness of these fans, but it’s not what we do here. We love all 18,000 people in this gym, they were incredible tonight, and just so you know, that’s not what we should do.”
The longtime, simmering discourse over “horns down” and how Texas feels about it resurfaced in a high-profile manner on Jan. 17 when Longhorns head coach Rodney Terry called it “classless” for UCF players to make the gesture after a win over Texas in Austin during a rant that lasted roughly a minute.
Terry later apologized.
“I had no intention of trying to show up anyone or offend anyone in terms of what occurred at the end of that game,” he said.
“We have a lot of passion for who we are and what we are representing. We try to do that in a class manner, at the highest level,” Terry added. “If I offended some of our fans as well in not handling myself in the right way... I apologize to our fan base as well and understand what it means to be the head coach at the University of Texas and what our brand stands for.”
Despite the apology, Pope apparently agrees with the substance of what the Texas head coach was saying, even though reality surely won’t keep the hot takes from flying on social media, takes that Terry himself helped enable.