You better raise 4 fingers to start the 4th quarter. Tom Allen explains why

Tom Allen was fired up, a familiar sight on Indiana’s sideline.

But this particular moment had nothing to do with an officiating decision, a penalty or a missed assignment by one of his players. The Indiana coach was fuming because he didn’t see exactly what he wanted from his team between the third and fourth quarters of last week’s win at Rutgers.

As is customary under Allen, the Hoosiers are supposed to hold four fingers in the air just prior to the start of the fourth quarter. That goes for everyone and every game. It’s supposed to signal an awareness that this is winning time. This is when you finish.

For Allen, few things are more important for IU this fall.

“The whole point of that is you’re emphasizing that this is the fourth quarter,” Allen said. “This is what we train for. We’re the best conditioned team on that field. When the fourth quarter comes, one of our goals for the week is to win the fourth quarter on both sides of the football.”

But last weekend, during the timeout between periods in New Jersey, Allen noticed not everyone was aware of the moment.

First, he signaled to his players on the field. Then, Allen raced along the sideline, hollering at those in the background that they better do the same.

“I ran over to them and told them with some energy and emotion that they’re going to get their hands up,” Allen said. “It’s the principle of the thing. It’s about the little things. As I told our team, putting your four fingers up has nothing to do with how you play. But it’s your mindset.

“If you want to be a great team, you have to be a great team that does the little things right. It doesn’t ensure that you’re going to be a great football team, but you cannot be a great football team if you don’t do the little things right. You get what you emphasize. To me, if we say we’re going to do it, we’re all going to do it. That’s why I was going to make sure that everybody was going to understand that’s what we’re going to do.”

Across the first five games of the season, Indiana and its opponents have each combined for 24 points in the fourth quarter. In two Big Ten games against Rutgers and Michigan State, IU has been outscored 17-14. During that same span, Indiana out-gained the two league foes 238-228.

At Rutgers, IU came out of halftime with a three-and-out, then advanced as far as the Rutgers 48 on its second possession, before closing the third quarter with a fumble around midfield.

“It was about finishing at that point, and I wasn’t real happy with how we played in the third quarter,” Allen said. “So that was part of it, too. I wanted us to finish, because I didn’t want to have happen what happened at the end, where we kind of had to just fight and claw and scratch to get a win there. I knew if we came out and put the dagger in them, that it was going to be over. That was the whole point. Fourth quarter means finish.”


  1. I get it but man that has to be one of the dumbest so called traditions in college football if you’re focused on what you have to do then theres no need to hold up anything

    1. I totally agree with HC Allen. He has every right to berate any dissenter not following his directives. Either get on the train or get off work the track.

  2. Maybe the players were looking and checking their iphones and didn’t realize what was going on around them. Just like today’s society tield to the phone screen. Maybe Coach needs to tweet an 4th quarter alert.

  3. It would also help to play with the same intensity and focus for quarters 1, 2, and 3. Maybe for quarter 1 each player could raise his middle finger.

  4. I just hope everyone watches the Indiana and Ohio State game very closely….I am sure that their will be some reference on this blog as to how the referee cheated Indiana out of a victory. How the BIG TEN favors Ohio State. In this game you will not get the ref calls that Indiana got in the Rutgers game (the fumble by Stevie Scott, the goal line touchdown by Peyton Ramsey and the offsides call at the end of the game). So if Indiana is to beat Ohio State do not leave the game in the referee hands. This game will also tell how good of a offensive line Indiana is. Ohio State has one of the best defensive front four (lineman Chase Young #2 goes up and down the defensive line looking for the weakest link) lineman in college football. Ohio State secondary should be in vulnerable (they had a player suspended for targeting in the Penn State). Hopefully Indiana gives Ohio State some competition again this year.

  5. Every coach has his own issues that he deems important and four fingers up for the 4th quarter is just one of Coach Allen’s. What I like about coach Allen’s approach is his attention to detail and his players should get on board or suffer the consequences. He is trying to teach the team to finish games and this is one way he is doing that.

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