When I moved from Louisiana to Texas, one of the things I noticed was that when people cheer for a Texas college team, they immediately do something with their hands. I thought it was really weird. As a teacher, I had gone through gang training. We learned all about the different hand signals for the Crips and the Bloods. These crazy Texas fans were apart of their own gangs and even had their own hand signals. All of the major Texas schools have some type of hand signal. My husband, a Baylor Bear, forms his hand into a U and L when we are at my school, the Ragin Cajuns. According to him, you aren’t legit unless you have a hand signal.
My opinion is that out of all the Texas schools, the Aggies (ATM) are the most vocal. I have sat in countless meetings where at some point, the Aggies are mentioned and you have to pause so that all of them can get their “Whoop” in.
So it is not surprising to me that the hand signals were started by the Aggies.
Texas Monthly did a cute story explaining the journey. I’ll give you the cliff note version.
In 1930, an Aggie alum named Pinky Downs was at an Aggie yell practice before their game against TCU. When they asked what the Aggies were going to do with the Horned Frogs, Downs screamed “Gig em, Aggies” with his thumb pointed straight up. Gigging is a term used when describing the practice of hunting fish or smaller animals. A gig pole has a sphere at the end of the pole.
In 1955, UT was preparing to play TCU. At a pep rally, UT cheerleader Harley Clark decided that the Aggies were winning games because they had a hand signal and maybe UT would start winning games if they had too a hand signal. Clark decided to take his index finger and pinky and stick them up to look like horns (of a Longhorn).
Many people still remember when George Bush’s daughter Jenna held up her “hook em horns” during his Presidential inauguration. In fact, President Bush held up the same signal when he spotted Longhorn musicians playing celebratory music. Neither Bush knew that the “hook em horns” salute was the same as the Norwegian Satan sign. Now that the Aggies and Longhorns had hand signals, the other schools had to have them too.
In 1960, Baylor cheerleader Bobby Schrade came up with taking a hand and making a bear claw out of it. It was not formally accepted by the school administration until twelve years later in 1972.
SMU: The index and middle fingers in the shape of a V, representing pony ears.