Here’s MY March Madness – What Do the ACC, Tobacco Road, I-40 and the Big Four Have in Common?

You know, I pride myself on knowing the “odd” things in life, the little tid-bits that you can throw out at a party – I call them my little Pearls of Wisdom“. For the longest time I use to throw out this one…

Why is it that when you buy a bag of nuts in the store there are never any cashews yet when you buy mixed nuts in a can they are in there?  I know, doesn’t bother many of you but it did me!  Well, had to research and come to find out – cashew shells are highly caustic – the oil can and does burn your skin.  There ya go….. 

Now, on to the post…..

In doing all of this research for the College teams around here I learned a great deal.  Have you heard the song Tobacco Road?  It was originally recorded by John Loudermilk.  Since the original version there have been re-recordings by numerous artists such as Lou Rawls, Jefferson Airplane, Edgar Winter, Bobby Gentry and MANY others.  In 2006 it was featured in the finale of the hit american-idol-poster.jpegtelevision show American Idol, and was performed on the show by contestant Phil Stacey in 2007 (remember, the bald one with the BIG eyes and sultry voice) and Syesha Mercado in 2008.  The songs original intention was autobiographical in that it told the story of growing up in the rough East Durham area of Durham.  (Folks, before ANYONE decides to come down on me for that comment – I make peace!  This was back in the 60s and I am certainly not making a statement about Durham!)

WELL – Tobacco Road also refers to Interstate 40 which traverses the country from  east to west.  From Wikipedia here is a little tid-bit that YOU can throw out at the next party…..

Tobacco Road refers to the tobacco-producing area of North Carolina and is often used when referring to sports (particularly basketball) played among rival North Carolina universities. The phrase actually originated as the title of a novel set in Georgia, but it naturally migrated to North Carolina because of the state’s primacy in tobacco production.

The usual universities referred to by the moniker “Tobacco Road” are the following:

  • Duke University (Blue Devils)
  • North Carolina State University (Wolfpack)
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Tar Heels)
  • Wake Forest University (Demon Deacons)

 All of these schools are separated by no more than 25 miles from any of the others with the exception of Wake Forest, which lies an hour and a half drive away via Interstate 40. In fact, all four are no more than six miles from Interstate 40, so the road is sometimes informally known as the “Tobacco Road”. The proximity of these schools to one another and the membership of each school in the Atlantic Coast Conference have created a natural rivalry among students and alumni.

Wake Forest University used to be in Wake Forest, North Carolina, just a few miles north of Raleigh, until it moved to Winston-Salem, North Carolina, about 100 miles west of the Triangle. Since Wake Forest University is in North Carolina, and in the same city as the headquarters of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, a member of the ACC and still near the other three schools, Wake remains in the “Tobacco Road” group. These four universities are also known in the state as the “Big Four”.


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