Special to Sports News Highlights

(SNH) — “O-2 barbecue” is when one loses the first two games of a double elimination tournament.

I was introduced to the term several years ago while watching the broadcast of the men’s College World Series. Seeing how all the super regionals will be hosted below the Mason Dixon Line, and being a born-and-raised Southerner, I thought it would be good to catch y’all up on something real important.

In the heart of Dixie, Southerners have been known to have downright religious convictions about their pig pickings. First and foremost, barbecue is a food. One does not attend a barbecue; we call an outdoor gathering of folks a cookout.

If you are attending such a gathering at a sporting event it is called tailgating. If at said cookout or tailgate party, you happen upon some type of animal product that has been wood smoked and if said meat is pork, then you have found yourself some barbecue.

And even if you’ve got the terminology down, be advised that Southerners can be quite particular about their barbecue sauces. If you were to visit the towns of the super regional hosts, it’s highly likely that no two would follow the same recipe. From Charlottesville to Lexington to Knoxville, Chapel Hill to Clemson to Athens and Tallahassee to College Station each has a distinctive flavor.

In eastern North Carolina, you will find a vinegar-based sauce with red pepper flakes. It’s a clear sauce and you will never find a tomato anywhere near it. Further west in Lexington (North Carolina not Kentucky) is where they put tomato in the sauce. The Lexington sauce is also referred to as Piedmont dip and it can also be found from north Georgia to upper South Carolina.

In other parts of the Carolinas and further south into north Florida you will find what’s called Carolina Mustard sauce. Not only is it mustard based, but typically features cane sugar as opposed to molasses.

Throughout Tennessee, particularly the western part of the state, you will discover Memphis dry rub. This is a mixture of spices that is rubbed dry onto the meat prior to cooking. Often when a dry rub is used, the barbeque sauce will be served on the side.

Texas has a style of its own. In fact, the motto is that no sauce is the best sauce. Here the favorite fixing is beef brisket, and the sauces tend to be thinner and more like a hot sauce. The sauces here will often feature spices like chili powder and cumin.

I have been fortunate to have attended sporting events at almost every super regional host site. If you haven’t, I am certain that you will experience a new level of tailgating. Given the hospitable nature of the fans, you will likely be invited to partake with them.

If they say they got pig pickings, I guarantee you are in the right place! And while you’re in hog heaven, do yourself a favor while you’re there and grab some of that sweet tea, why don’t cha.

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