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'Horns Down' against Texas question answered by Big 12 director of officials ... kinda

ARLINGTON — Greg Burks took a strong stance on the ever-popular Horns Down subject on Thursday. Well, kinda.

The Big 12 director of officials answered a question about the polarizing topic, but left tons of room for ambiguity on the final day of Big 12 media days.

Midway through taking questions from reporters, Burks was asked about the "gift that keeps on giving" for Big 12 officials: the Horns Down symbol, a taunt directed at Texas that has been an on-and-off struggle as a judgment call for officials.

Texas' Chris Adimora (1) celebrates with fans as an Oklahoma State fan does the horns down during the college football game between the Oklahoma State University Cowboys and the University of Texas Longhorns at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020.

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"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 said if a player turned to the crowd to throw the sign, it "probably" would 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."

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Two years ago, Burks fielded similar questions. "I know people want us to be definitive on that, but it's like any touchdown celebration," he said in 2019. "Is it directed at an opponent or just celebration with your teammates?"

Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby speaks to reporters during Big 12 football media days on July 14 in Arlington, Texas.

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But this year, the league singled out taunting as one of its biggest priorities for officials.

"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'"

New stadium rule: Burks also said new rule language will prohibit bands, audio/video or lighting systems from creating any distraction for an opponent and from trying to disrupt an offense’s signals. 

This, in part, stems from an incident at last year's Texas-Oklahoma State game where the Boone Pickens video board displayed multiple yellow vertical lines to distract Longhorns kicker Cameron Dicker during a field-goal attempt. Dicker did make the kick.