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The unofficial battle for the Big 12 last Saturday on Nov. 3 between Texas and West Virginia was exciting as hell. Unfortunately, it’s been overshadowed by Texas head coach Tom Herman’s complaints about taunting.
West Virginia QB Will Grier started to celebrate as he crossed the goal line for a game winning two-point conversion. Although an extremely heated situation, Grier may have started celebrating half a step too soon, as he was high-stepping into the end zone before the ball technically crossed the line. Grier was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct after the play but for taunting the Longhorn fans with the Horns down hand sign rather than high-stepping.
WILL GRIER. 2-POINT CONVERSION WITH THE GAME ON THE LINE.
This man's got ice in his veins, y'all. pic.twitter.com/CQikTxeA8J
— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) November 3, 2018
It’s a fairly common taunt from opponents directed at Texas fans by simply turning the Longhorn hand sign upside down. Essentially, imagine turning every cross in a church upside down and that would only be about half as sacrilegious and offensive as the Horns down. Although the penalty is at the discretion of the officials because it’s not specified in the NCAA rule book, the Mountaineers were called for this penalty an astonishing two times in a single game, regardless of the officials previously stating it wasn’t grounds for a penalty. Due to Grier’s taunt being called after the play however, Tom Herman was not pleased.
“I thought taunting before you cross the goal line negated a score,” Herman said afterward. “I’ve got to brush up on my rules and get some questions answered.”
Herman is technically right by the way. If the officials would have penalized Grier for high-stepping just before the ball crossed the goal line, it would have resulting in West Virginia having to attempt a 35-yard PAT for a tie or a 17-yard two-point conversion. Either way, it would have been a much different game.
Holgorsen says #WVU checked with refs pregame to see whether horns-down would be penalized. Thought refs would allow it. "I'm disappointed. Guess it was a miscommunication."
— Allan Taylor (@GAllanTaylor) November 3, 2018
The problem however with Herman’s remarks was just how petty and hypocritical they were. First of all, Will Grier pulled off a hell of a risky move to end the game and although I understand it sucks to lose, you have to acknowledge the courage and skill that took. Second, with the Horns down thing aside, does Herman really believe that one or two high-steps were worthy of calling back the game-winning play? Third, Herman has proven to be a guy that isn’t afraid of taunting others himself and gets irrationally frustrated when things aren’t going his way.
Herman the Hypocrite: Taunts Missouri QB
During the Texas Bowl last year, Herman started mocking Missouri QB Drew Lock just prior to the Longhorns winning with a minute and a half left on the clock. Herman was taunting Lock with his “secure the bag” celebration he performed earlier in the game after a 79-yard Missouri TD. So, while Herman holds West Virginia’s 23-year-old QB to a higher standard of not high-stepping, it’s reasonable for a 43-year-old man to mock a 21-year-old player who is about to lose a game. I’m just trying to build a better understanding for Herman’s moral parameters here.
Herman the Hulk: Ready to Fight Gundy
Prior to Oklahoma State two weeks ago, Texas was ranked as high as No. 6 and being discussed as playoff contenders. I personally found this hilarious but that’s beside the point. As the Cowboys were taking knees to run out the clock, a little scuffle broke out. This caused OK State head coach Mike Gundy to run onto the field and separate his players from Texas. For whatever reason, this triggered Herman more than a vegan at a butcher shop.
Recap of Tom Herman & Mike Gundy in the late scrap, their postgame handshake and Gundy's interview explanation pic.twitter.com/CMzJpKwzpw
— CJ Fogler (@cjzer0) October 28, 2018
He ran to midfield in an attempt to go after Gundy and was eventually called for unsportsmanlike conduct because he wouldn’t calm down. Apparently, Herman thought Gundy was trying to get involved in the fight between the players rather than breaking it up? The only thing I can honestly think of that makes sense is that Herman was insanely frustrated that his hopeful season was coming to an end before his eyes and saw an opportunity to take out that anger.
Dr. Jekyll and Coach Herman: Questionable Past
Although most remember Herman’s history at Houston as a successful string of big-time upsets over teams like Lamar Jackson’s Louisville, Baker Mayfield’s Oklahoma or Florida State in the Peach Bowl, Cougar fans were left with a bitter taste of Herman instead. During his famed 2016 season, Herman was the most talked about coach for other jobs. Yet, Herman remained diligent on his assertion that all the rumors were false and he was in fact, not discussing a HC job with LSU or Texas. This contradicted what LSU AD Joe Alleva had to say however. It was reported that Herman had informally accepted the LSU offer but was stalling in hopes to hear a counter offer from the Longhorns, which caused LSU to revoke their offer entirely. Even Heisman candidate Ed Oliver felt betrayed by tweeting, “Why you lie to us coach?”
Tom Herman was also connected to the Ohio State scandal earlier this season. Although it was reported Herman was possibly the one who leaked the information in hopes to open up the Buckeye’s HC job, none of that was ever confirmed. What was confirmed however was the fact that Tom Herman was the mystery assistant coach at the Miami strip club in 2014 with Zach Smith and high school football coaches. This incident actually caused Ohio State to start inserting a “morality clause” into coaching contracts. Although the threat of an NCAA investigation for buying high school coaches things was mentioned, nothing series appeared to have come out of this information other than causing a school to create a morality clause. I guess that helps answer the previous question about Herman’s moral parameters.
Tom Herman: the Texas Meme
In the current age of social media, the meme is king and the only way to win is by not giving the internet anything to meme. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case for Tom Herman with this newly discovered sense of hypocrisy and easily agitated personality. Or, “easily triggered” in meme speak.
Herman trying to stop the horns down pic.twitter.com/y2vqyIiJvJ
— Chairgatin' (@chairgatin) November 8, 2018
To make matters worse, Texas Tech HC Kliff Kingsbury has instructed his players to refrain from using the Horns down hand sign this weekend. This is like feeding coal to the internet flames. Whether he was aware of it or not, by Kliff addressing the media about how serious they are taking the Horns down complaint, Herman now appears especially triggered. By Texas simply acknowledging that the Horns down sign upsets them, it suddenly increases the value of that insult by opponents, exponentially.
“We addressed it last year when we had a costly penalty doing that last year on the road, and you can’t do that against a quality football team and cost yourself 15 yards on a kickoff.” Kingsbury said. “So we won’t be doing that.”
It’s been nearly 10 years since Texas has been national championship contenders and yet in only 2, Herman has reminded the rest of the country why they hated the Longhorns in the first place. It’s hard to image Herman doing anything else that could possibly make him seem any more hypocritical, triggered or marshmallow soft but I still have faith. With Texas Tech hosting the Longhorns in Lubbock this weekend, I image the Red Raider fans will assist their players in the Horns down hand sign they are no longer able to take part in. We can only hope Herman has something to say about it once again.