When you think of college football teams that talk a lot of trash, the Texas A&M Football team might be one that comes to mind. With Johnny Manziel as the program’s greatest player of all time, the Aggies are going to be thought of as a feisty program.
Even so, Manziel himself hasn’t shown much of any emotion in regards to the Hook’Em Horns hand gesture, which has been a huge talking point recently. Manziel went so far as to downplay the rivalry as a whole after being seen throwing up a Hook’Em Horns sign.
Here’s what he said about the situation.
"“I understand the rivalry that is between A&M and Texas, but for me – [Texas running back] Malcolm Brown has been one of my great friends since high school. There are guys on that team that I’ve grown relationships with. Cayleb Jones, I still talk to him on almost a weekly basis. All my friends from high school go there. For me, it’s not a rivalry. We got out of that conference, we’re not playing them anymore. It’s not a big deal. To me, it’s just like if I was flashing any other school sign, and just because it is Texas, it’s made out to be a big deal.”"
Even so, as one of the Texas Longhorns’ biggest rivals, Texas A&M will be one of the first teams that comes to mind when hearing about the announcement that the NCAA will be penalizing any sort of “Horns Down” gestures.
That said, the Aggies aren’t generally thought of as those who excessively use the “Horns Down” as a statement of disrespect. That would be the Oklahoma Sooners.
The Texas A&M Football team should still be upset about the absurdity of an anti-“Horns Down” rule
Even if the Texas A&M Football team isn’t the most outspoken in the Texas-Texas A&M rivalry, the athletic program still has a huge stock in this. Teams should hold a right to talk trash to their rival, even if it’s a sign of disrespect.
The Texas A&M athletic program has used the gesture before. As an example, the Aggie men’s track team used the “Horns Down” gesture in their own way in 2019.
Rather than doing the gesture with their hand, as we’ve commonly seen, the Texas A&M track stars turned their bibs upside down so that the Longhorn logo was upside down during competition in Austin. This is commonly seen with fans, who buy Texas stickers specifically to turn them upside down.
Strange, but people will do virtually anything for a rivalry.
In 2021, the Big 12 announced that they’ll be cracking down on taunting penalties, specifically in relation to “Horns Down” taunts. Here’s what Big 12 Coordinator of Officials Greg Burks said about it.
"“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.”"
At the end of the day, the idea of banning certain taunts is a tight rope-discussion. It’s hard to form a logical argument against it but nobody complains about the trash-talking that goes on in college football. Generally speaking, it makes the game better.