BYU coach scolds students for wearing 'Horns Down' T-shirts during clash with Texas

PROVO, UT - JANUARY 27: Mark Pope head coach of the Brigham Young Cougars calls in a play during the second half of their game against the Texas Longhorns at the Marriott Center  on January 27, 2024 in Provo, Utah. (Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images)
Mark Pope didn't want to beat Texas with "Horns Down." (Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images) (Chris Gardner via Getty Images)

There is no easier way to touch a nerve in college sports than to say "Horns Down" in any way, shape or form to Texas. Some programs still try to accommodate that sensitivity.

On Saturday, that program was BYU.

With the Cougars facing Texas in a Big 12 clash, a group of nine BYU students reported for duty wearing T-shirts that spelled out "HORNS DOWN" in the front row of the ROC (Roar of Cougars) student section. Their seats were the closest ones to the Texas bench.

The shirts were gone by the first media timeout, at the request of BYU.

Shirts or no shirts, the 21st-ranked Cougars went on to beat the Longhorns 84-72 to improve their record to 15-5.

After the game, BYU head coach Mark Pope scolded the shirts after speaking with reporters, via KSL Sports' Mitch Harper:

"They were taken off before the game started, right? From the ROC, and from our players, and from our student body, that's just not us. That's not how we roll and it was just a miscalculation on a couple eager kids, which — we love the eagerness of these fans — but that's not what we do here ... That's not something that we're supporting."

The "Horns Down" taunt has once again become a hot topic in college sports, after Texas head coach Rodney Terry repeatedly shouted "that's classless" at a group of UCF players who were making the hand gesture during a postgame handshake line.

Terry kept going during his postgame news conference, but it was he who ended up apologizing days later, admitting he might have gone overboard while criticizing UCF and its players.

Such behavior from Terry was naturally going to remind opposing fans of a very easy way to get under Texas' skin, because this program has never responded calmly to what remains a fairly tame message. We'll see if the Longhorns' next road opponent, TCU on Feb. 3, goes out of its way to protect Texas like BYU did.