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Alabama’s Four-Fingers Tradition Traces Back to Bear Bryant
Michael Chang /Sports Illustrated via Getty Images

The clock strikes zero to signify the end of the third quarter. Alabama fans and players know the drill. They hold four fingers high in the sky, claiming the fourth quarter as their own.

The four-fingers tradition has spread far and wide across college football. It’s reached the point where it’s weird if your team doesn’t do it. A lot of fanbases claim the tradition is unique to their program. Alabama actually has some grounds to back it up.

It traces back to legendary coach Bear Bryant.

Alabama’s Four-Fingers Tradition

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Former Alabama head coach Bear Bryant was a no-BS kind of guy when it came leading his football team. He specialized in rebuilding down programs. Kentucky vastly improved under Bryant’s leadership and Texas A&M soon followed. His tenure at Alabama is the stuff of legends.

Bryant was a commanding presence wherever he went, and he wanted his team to be the same. They were tough, they played hard and they won. A lot of those wins can be attributed to owning the fourth quarter.

The Crimson Tide head coach instilled dominating the final quarter into his team. He found a way to remind his players of this mindset while letting opponents know who the fourth quarter belonged to. The result? Holding four fingers in the air at the end of the third quarter.

There isn’t some watershed moment to point to as the origin of the tradition. It gradually became more visible over time, and many credit Bryant with getting it off the ground.

The tradition started popping up all over the country from high school football to big programs such as Clemson, Miami, Michigan, Nebraska, Tennessee, Virginia Tech, Ohio State, Oklahoma, LSU, Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Georgia Tech and Notre Dame. It’s safe to assume you probably held up four fingers at some point no matter where you played football.

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At Alabama, it means something special. You can have the first three quarters. We’ll take the fourth.

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Joe Grobeck About the author:
Joe is a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and lives in Austin, Texas. He believes Ndaumkong Suh should've won the 2009 Heisman and is an avid basketball fan.
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