For those of you who don’t know, the University of Texas football program was a very mediocre program this year. They beat all the teams they were supposed to, excluding two questionable yet fairly toss-up losses against Texas Tech and Maryland, and lost to those they were worse than. Their regular season ended with a 6-6 record which was enough to land them in one of the seemingly endless barrage of bowl games played in December.
Last week, the Longhorns took on the University of Missouri in the Texas Bowl played in Houston. Texas went into the game as a three-point underdog but quickly climbed to a 21-7 lead heading into halftime.
Mizzou opened the second half with a 79-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Drew Lock who celebrated with a dance with him shaking and gesturing his hands using the shaka sign, more commonly known as the “hang loose” sign. Innocent enough.
The touchdown would be Missouri’s last of the game as Texas added a safety, field goal and touchdown to their score line to win the game 33-16. After they scored the touchdown with just under two minutes left in the game, the Longhorns’ first-year head coach Tom Herman was celebrating with his team and did an over-the-top version of Lock’s celebratory dance from earlier.
Naturally, the ESPN cameras caught it and the guardians of morality of Twitter took to their keyboards to denounce such a heinous act.
“Childish, A grown man mocking his opponent, grow up Tom Herman. Everybody hates Texas football for a reason,” read one tweet.
Another read, “So Tom Herman is mocking a college kid? You proud of yourself there coach?”
All of this raises the question: why is it wrong? People take sports so seriously they forget at the end of the day sports is meant for entertainment not just for those who watch it but those who play and coach it as well.
Herman had just completed an upset over one of the hottest teams heading into bowl season and it’s not as if he made fun of Lock for something in his personal life. Lock celebrated after making it a close game and Herman celebrated after shutting them down.
You may say that a coach is supposed to be an example of professionalism and respect and while Herman’s mockery certainly wasn’t respectful, it wasn’t a cheap shot towards Missouri or unprofessional. He shook hands after the game, said the right things in terms of respecting the opponent in the post-game press conference and didn’t do anything other than having fun and celebrating with his players.
Herman did what so many other coaches are afraid of doing: he took something used as a sign of “I beat you” directed towards him and turned it right around on them. He let loose and did the two main points of football: he won and had fun doing it.
Now you may say, imagine being a college kid who’s mocked on national television and for that reason what Herman did was wrong. Well first off, if he can’t take the heat of having his celebration backfire on him, Lock shouldn’t have done it in the first place. The thing is, he could take it and like Herman, did so with a smile.
A reporter for a television station in Missouri reported after the game when asked about Herman’s imitation of his celebration, Lock smiled and said, “If the coach of a major program is mocking you, you must be doing something right.”
Why can a 21-year-old kid see what the social media moral police can’t? Herman’s celebration was simply him basking in the moment that he and his players created and earned and obviously meant no real ill will towards Lock or the Missouri football program.
Lock opened himself up for mockery when he did the celebration and clearly he knew that and is more than able to take it so let’s not pretend like an adult coach mocking a college player is somehow immature or wrong.
This extends to my viewpoints on over the top celebrations as a whole. You don’t like it when a player performs CPR on the ball after he scores? How about if a player keeps running through the end zone into the tunnel? Then don’t let them score.
If Lock didn’t want to be mocked, which again he clearly didn’t mind post-game, then he should’ve won the game. Herman’s hours of work into the game plan paid off and he did what he had every right to do: celebrate.
His players loved it, recruits will love it and fans loved it. Football is a fun game so let’s not demonize those who choose to have fun with it especially when it’s earned.