Alabama Celebrates Victory With Cigar Tradition

Alabama Celebrates Victory With Cigar Tradition
Photo/Instagram Derrick Henry (@last_king_2)
Running back Derrick Henry—who rushed for 143 yards with two touchdowns—puffing away alongside coach Nick Saban

The historic "Third Saturday In October" rivalry game between Alabama and Tennessee may have taken place on the fourth Saturday of the month this year, but that didn't stop the Crimson Tide from continuing the celebrated tradition of smoking cigars after their 19-14 win over the Tennessee Volunteers.

Following the victory at Bryant-Denny Stadium, photos began surfacing online of the Crimson Tide celebrating their ninth straight victory over Tennessee with customary cigars. Wide receiver coach Billy Napier took part in the festivities by posting a photo to his Twitter account with several Alabama players all smoking cigars on the field. Freshman linebacker Jamey Mosley posted a similar group photo inside a smoky Alabama locker room. An Instagram picture of running back Derrick Henry—who rushed for 143 yards with two touchdowns—puffing away alongside coach Nick Saban also surfaced.

According to Alabama legend, the tradition of smoking cigars after the "Third Saturday" game began in 1961 when coach Paul "Bear" Bryant passed out smokes after defeating Tennessee 34-3, ending six winless years in the rivalry. Alabama, led by quarterback Pat Trammell, went on to finish the 1961 season undefeated, which culminated in a Sugar Bowl victory over Arkansas. However, others claim the tradition began a few years earlier, with head trainer Jim Goostree handing out cigars following "Third Saturday" victories in the 1950s.

Either way, the tradition has since been embraced on both sides of the rivalry and it continued this Saturday after the 98th meeting between the two teams.

As you may assume, coaches handing out cigars to players violates two NCAA policies, one that strictly prohibits use of tobacco and another that prevents administrations from incentivizing players with extra benefits. (The latter is meant to keep programs from bribing student athletes with items such as electronics and cars, but cigars still apply.) For this reason, the tradition was confined to the locker room for many years. But in the era of social media, coaches and players have made the celebrations more public, self-reporting the violation and taking on any ensuing fines as a badge of honor.