DALLAS — Unsurprisingly, tensions flared between the Texas Longhorns and Oklahoma Sooners ahead of the Red River Showdown, with chatter in the tunnel ultimately extending onto the field as the two teams came together for a bit of a scuffle.
Tensions are FLARING here early in Dallas!!— Nick Harris (@NickHarrisTV) October 12, 2019
A flag has been thrown for unsportsmanlike conduct for EVERY PLAYER. This means any unsportsmanlike call during the game will result in an immediate ejection. pic.twitter.com/ywqN1Fd6HW
As a result of the commotion, a official flagged the entire Texas and Oklahoma teams for unsportsmanlike conduct, which will result in any player who receives a single unsportsmanlike penalty during the game being ejected.
The flag, which seemed excessive given the nature of rivalry games and the pre-game scuffles that invariably result, raised questions about what might happen if Oklahoma players make the “Horns down” hand sign during the game.
Sooners head coach Lincoln Riley said this week that his players wouldn’t do it at all this year, but that seems unlikely. If it does happen, Big 12 Coordinator of Officials Greg Burks released a statement this summer about what would draw a flag.
“It’s like any unsportsmanlike act,” he said. “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. 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?
“It’s a hot topic. I know people want us to be definitive on that, but it’s like any touchdown celebration. Is it directed at an opponent or just celebration with your teammates? I think he said what if they direct it at fans?”
Commissioner Bob Bowslby offered a similar explanation to Burnt Orange Nation at Big 12 Media Days.