Judaism, Barbecue & Basketball A Dangerous Mix

Coach Pearl during better times

As a Jewish barbecue enthusiast and basketball fan, I am deeply saddened to report that University of Tennessee men’s basketball coach Bruce Pearl was fired on Monday after being embroiled (slow-cooked?) in a barbecue-related scandal.  

Pearl, the President of the Jewish Coaches Association, committed a number of violations during his tenure at UT, not the least of which was coaching his team to a humiliating 30 point loss in the first round of this year’s NCAA tournament.

According to the USA Today, “When asked by investigators where a photo of Pearl and two recruits — high school juniors — was taken, Pearl told them he didn’t know the location. The photo turned out to be taken during a barbeque at Pearl’s home.” Unfortunately for Pearl, hosting high school juniors for an off-campus recruiting visit is a no-no.  Worse yet, I have reason to suspect that the “barbeque” at Pearl’s house was really just a run-of-the-mill cookout rather than a pig picking worthy of using barbeque as a noun.  I have contacted the NCAA about my concerns and as of press time await a response.

Lest you be concerned about Pearl’s financial future, take solace in these words from UT’s press release: “Pearl will be paid at his current salary rate through June 30, 2011. He will also receive $50,000 per month for 12 months, from July 1, 2011 through June 30, 2012, and will also receive health insurance costs. This cumulative figure is $948,728.” In short, it sounds like Pearl will “earn” plenty of gelt to buy himself, and any high school juniors he’d like to invite, a proper pig picking.

Not all Jewish basketball coaches are corrupt.  Most notably, renowned Celtics coach Red Auerbach was a Jew, and he was even inducted into the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame (along with that lesser basketball hall of fame in Springfield, MA).  Yep, ol’ Red has a place in the Jewish Sports Hall alongside other legendary members of the tribe—pro bowler Marshall Holman, Canadian Football star Noah Cantor and, of course, renowned canoeist Joe Jacobi. Despite this impressive roster of Jewish sports stars, I can’t help but wonder, do Baptists or Presbyterians find it necessary to have their own sports halls of fame? Or are they too busy hosting real barbecues?

Porky’s Pulpit: ACC BBQ Power Rankings, Part II

In case you missed it, on Friday (well past tip off time) I posted the historical ACC BBQ Power Rankings.  Today I present the ACC BBQ Power Rankings based on modern day BBQ culture in and around each of the ACC schools.

1. Wake ForestWake is located in Winston-Salem, which has a couple of traditional pit cooked restaurants within the city limits. More to the point, Wake is just a long 3-pointer away from Lexington, Salisbury and other barbecue holy ground. That’s enough to earn it top place in my book. 

2. Carolina – Chapel Hill has a fairly well-deserved reputation as a yuppie, yankee town. Most of the residents of Chapel Hill wouldn’t know good barbecue if it walked right up to them and introduced itself.  Still, Chapel Hill is home to Allen & Son, absolutely one of the best barbecue joints anywhere.  Allen’s is to Chapel Hill what Michael Jordan is to Carolina–a living legend. 

3. NC State  – Raleigh is a surprisingly weak barbecue town given it’s the capital and contains lots of native North Carolinians.  Still, it has enough barbecue culture to rank third in the ACC, a weak conference for barbecue these days.

4. Clemson – I have never been to Clemson, but it is the only current ACC school in South Carolina (the University of South Carolina was a founding member of the ACC).  Although I am biased against the state of South Carolina for no particular reason other than my birthplace one state north, I concede that SC has a solid barbecue culture.  Enjoy my generosity, Clemson fans.

5. Duke – Durham has a good deal of barbecue tradition, with its tobacco heritage. However, the barbecue culture in Durham is nothing special. There are a couple of decent BBQ joints and that’s about it. But in the ACC, that’s enough for a 5 seed.

6. Georgia Tech – Like I said on Friday, Atlanta is a big, new south city where sushi is as common as barbecue. But there are lots of barbecue joints in and around Atlanta, not to mention the rest of Georgia.  Anywhere that has that much slow-cooked pork deserves to be in the top half of the conference.

7. University of Virginia – Despite the state’s proud barbecue history, Virginia’s present day barbecue culture is pretty pathetic. Sure, Smithfield hams are good, but that ain’t barbecue.

8. Florida State – Tallahassee is the state capital and surely some of those high cholesterol legislators eat barbecue, right?  At least ribs?

9. Virginia Tech – I don’t know if there even is a barbecue joint in Blacksburg. If so, it probably isn’t any good.

10. University of Miami – When you spend so much time on the beach (or walking down the street) in a swimsuit, barbecue doesn’t stand a chance.  But at least Miami students can drive a little ways outside of the city and track down some southern culture.

11. Maryland – Maryland is arguably more southern than much of Florida. But College Park is not.

12. Boston College – I checked a map today and Boston College remains in Boston (well, Chestnut Hill but close enough).

Porky’s Pulpit: ACC BBQ Power Rankings, Part I

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.

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.)

Better Than Swine Fever

I'm working under the assumption that the pig is dribbling and not mounting the ball.

 We interrupt your regularly scheduled pork programming to wish you a happy March Madness.  

If there is one thing we at BBQJew.com love more than barbecue, it’s college hoops.  Lucky for us, the ACC Tournament is underway so life is good.  Or bad, if the team you root for has already lost or wears baby blue… or, in rare cases, fits both categories.  (Editor’s note: The Rib Rabbi is a Tar Heels fan but I, being a gentleman as well as a lifelong Blue Devils fan, will say nothing disparaging about his team.) 

This year the ACC Tournament has returned to the Greensboro Coliseum, where all reasonable people agree the tourney should be held every year.  After all, you can walk across the street from the Coliseum to Stamey’s and get a BBQ fix in between games.  What a town!