As you may have noticed if you’re not in a pork-induced coma, it’s the weekend of the ACC Tournament. In my humble opinion, this weekend is one of the best of the year to be a North Carolinian. With that in mind, I present to you a two part series ranking ACC schools based solely on barbecue. On Monday, I’ll provide an ACC barbecue power rankings based on the present day barbecue culture, but today I focus on ranking ACC schools based on barbecue history.
ACC BBQ POWER RANKINGS – HISTORICAL DATA
1. Carolina – UNC is the oldest public university in the country and is located in the center of the state, midway between downeast barbecue strongholds and Lexington-style country. Sure, Chapel Hill itself has no real barbecue tradition, but you can bet your baby blue best that the students who attended Carolina from the early days on knew a thing or two about ‘cue.
2. University of Virginia – A surprise second place finish on a website devoted to North Carolina barbecue? Not really. What we now think of as NC BBQ originated in colonial days in Virginia, where pork cooked over an open pit and served with vinegar thrived for many years. Virginia is more of a country ham state nowadays, but it’s barbecue roots are deep.
3. NC State – Needless to say, the state of North Carolina has a rich barbecue past and present. However, none of the ACC schools in North Carolina are really barbecue towns. Historically speaking, Raleigh-based NC State gets the nod. Raleigh has been the capital for a right long time and politics and barbecue have been intertwined since the dawn of time (or politics, whichever came first).
4. Duke – Sure, Duke kids are mostly from the northeast, but Duke is in Durham. Durham, of course, was a huge tobacco manufacturing town from the mid-19th century until recently. What two things are intertwined as closely as barbecue and politics? Barbecue and tobacco. Any town that has a long history of tobacco auctions has a long tradition of barbecue.
5. Wake Forest – Okay, so Wake Forest has not been in Winston-Salem for long. But Winston-Salem itself is a tobacco town (see above) and is near the heart of Lexington-style barbecue country. I’d rank Wake above Duke if it had been located in Winston-Salem a little longer.
6. Georgia Tech – Atlanta is a big, new south city these days where sushi is as common as barbecue. But Atlanta, and the rest of Georgia, has plenty of barbecue history. Or so I’m told by Georgians.
7. Clemson – Why rank Georgia Tech ahead of Clemson given all the barbecue culture in South Carolina. Well, the short answer is that I’m from North Carolina so always treat South Carolina and its people unfairly.
8. Virginia Tech – As far as I know, Blacksburg VA, nestled in the mountains, has little to no barbecue tradition. But at least it’s in Virginia (see #2 above).
9. Florida State – Floridians think they have barbecue tradition. Florida is southern after all, and Tallahassee is the state capital. That’s enough for #9 in my book.
10. University of Miami – Technically speaking, Miami is in Florida. And technically Florida is in the south. Beyond that, Miami doesn’t have much going for it, barbecue-wise. Plus, the University is really in Coral Gables.
11. Maryland – Have you ever been to College Park? People have eaten barbecue in Washington, D.C. for a long time and College Park is just a few miles away. But like I said, have you ever been to College Park?
12. Boston College – As far as I know Boston College has always been located in Boston. If that is incorrect please let me know. (Okay, so I stand corrected, it is now in Chestnut Hill, but close enough.)