Good news for USF coach Charlie Strong. Besides the whole getting a new job thing right after Texas fired him last year, Strong lucked out because he was already familiar with some of USF’s traditions. He’s familiar with this hand sign, modeled here with fellow ex-Texas coach Mack Brown ...
... because they do the same thing at Texas.
Texas takes the hand sign seriously. Its visionary, Harley Clark, debuted it in the 1950s, and it’s become one of the most recognizable symbols in all of college sports.
As with most things the Longhorns do, the point was to get the better of bitter rival Texas A&M.
In a 2006 interview, Clark said he had wanted some kind of hand signal similar to that used by the Longhorns' rivals at Texas A&M, where the "Gig `Em" sign dating to the 1930s is a closed fist with the thumb pointing straight up. Friend Henry Pitts showed him the Longhorn sign, which Pitts made up while shadow casting.
It also got former president George W. Bush in hot water when his daughter flashed it and it was perceived as a satanic symbol by a Norwegian newspaper.
But USF (which started its football program in 1997) has co-opted the symbol for its own use. Here’s the man Strong replaced at USF, Willie Taggart, doing the symbol with his kids.
The school was established in 1956 and USF’s mascot is now the Bulls. They’re not shy about admitting that there is a link between the two schools where bovine symbols are concerned.
With many different early name suggestions, the “Golden Brahman” was selected as the official mascot of USF in November 1962. Students reasoned that, since Florida was a cattle-raising state like Texas, USF needed a mascot comparable to the Texas Longhorns mascot. In the late 1980s, the mascot evolved into the “Bulls.”
But they’re a little more judicious about copping to the link with the hand sign. There’s no official date on its beginning, but USF started playing basketball in 1971.
The bullhorns created from the fingers on your hand create a powerful symbol that silently screams: "Go Bulls!" The Signal, First started as a good luck for basketball free-throw shooters, the symbol is now used during all athletic events.
So now USF and Texas are linked in yet another way. The mascot and the hand signal came from the state of Texas, but now the head coach has, too.