WTF Is A Tar Heel?

As our beloved University of South Carolina Gamecocks embark on their 2013 football season tonight against the North Carolina Tar Heels (#FITSpick here), there’s an important question hanging out there … What, exactly, is a Tar Heel? “The moniker is rooted in the state’s earliest history, derived from the production…

As our beloved University of South Carolina Gamecocks embark on their 2013 football season tonight against the North Carolina Tar Heels (#FITSpick here), there’s an important question hanging out there …

What, exactly, is a Tar Heel?

“The moniker is rooted in the state’s earliest history, derived from the production of naval stores-tar, pitch and turpentine-extracted from the vast pine forests of the state,” explains the website Mr. Tar Heel.

The site goes on to note that the term gained widespread use during the Civil War – including a reference made by Confederate General John S. Preston is response to an unexpectedly robust advance by the 60th North Carolina infantry regiment during the battle of Murfreesboro.

“You Tar Heels have done well,” Preston told the soldiers.

According to the University of North Carolina, there are two anecdotes which offer varying explanations for the origin of the term.

“One story hails back to the Revolutionary War and the troops of British General Cornwallis,” the school’s official website notes. “After fording a river in eastern North Carolina, the British troops discovered their feet covered with tar, a product of North Carolina’s abundant pine trees and one of the state’s most important exports at the time. Some say the clever North Carolinians dumped it in the river to slow down the invading army.”

The other anecdote cited by the school comes from the Civil War – specifically a method said to have been employed by Confederate soldiers from North Carolina aimed at preventing their brothers in arms from departing the field when things got rough.

“The soldiers threatened to stick tar on the heels of the retreating soldiers to help them stay in the battle,” the story goes. “General Robert E. Lee is said to have commented ‘God bless the Tar Heel boys!'”

For the purposes of tonight’s big game between the Gamecocks and Tar Heels, our founding editor has offered up his own definition for the term.

“Any of a number of football players who are totally incapable of blocking Jadeveon Clowney.”

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Squishy123 August 29, 2013 at 1:51 pm

Kind of like when I moved South and asked why a school had a chicken for a mascot.

Buba August 29, 2013 at 2:11 pm

Chickens are SC’s leading agricultural product. USC Tysons didn’t have a good ring to it so hence gamecocks.

La Gloria Cubana August 29, 2013 at 2:25 pm

Better than some acorn (Ohio State) you f’ing yankee!

Squishy123 August 29, 2013 at 5:43 pm

So now I’m an Ohio State fan? Yesterday I was called a Clemson fan. I wish you dirt pecker fans would make up your mind.

BTW – The South got it’s ass handed to them in “the war”.

Paladin August 29, 2013 at 1:59 pm

One team has a mascot related to valiant soldiers from the early history of their state, and the other team has a mascot that’s a chicken used by rednecks in a sadistic ritual of animal cruelty. Just sayin’

La Gloria Cubana August 29, 2013 at 2:34 pm

And yet, both mascots are original and beautifully tied to the Southern culture of where these two great universities exist. So, what’s your School’s mascot PETA-boy? A Tiger?! Gee, that’s original. A-hole.

CNSYD August 29, 2013 at 2:44 pm

Clean the chicken excrement off your glasses. His screen name is Paladin. HINT! HINT!

La Gloria Cubana August 29, 2013 at 3:43 pm

Uh, a Purple Paladin (People Eater)?! yeah, nuff said. (I mean seriously, does anybody even want to go to Furman anymore?! Neither my top performing child nor any of his top performing friends even looked at Leftist Furman when looking at colleges last year. Basically, FU’s glory days are gone and hilariously, those days existed while it was of that anti-antellectual organization, the Southern Baptists.)

Bullgerbil August 29, 2013 at 8:52 pm

You couldn’t afford Furman. Dick.

La Gloria Cubana August 29, 2013 at 9:41 pm

Keep dreaming. Sorry, I mean, I used to love Furman, and still think their campus is the most beautiful in the state; however, each year, they’re less-and-less a player for the state’s top ranked students. Years ago, I felt that Wofford and Clemson were decisively behind FU in prestige; now, I feel that both are viewed as equal to, or considered better than, FU. Just being honest.

SparkleCity August 30, 2013 at 11:23 pm


“A rose between two thorns”

Nuff said…………

You go to Furman to get an education, not to bang your sister or cousin or pull a 3 day drunks and finally graduate to work at your daddy’s law firm in Columbia or your uncle’s car dealership in Greenville.

Buckeye August 29, 2013 at 3:11 pm

What the fuck is a La Gloria Cubana, more southern culture?

La Gloria Cubana August 29, 2013 at 3:32 pm

Yeah, way South you dipsh!t..

Squishy123 August 29, 2013 at 8:39 pm

I bet that’s not the only long, hard, brown thing you like to hold in your mouth.

SparkleCity August 30, 2013 at 11:40 pm

Oregon’s “Fighting Ducks” or the “Banana Slugs” (some southern California college)

Now THAT’s self confidence and not taking oneself too seriously when it comes to college sports!!

I did hold out some hope that some team would use a Rottweiler as a mascot but as far as I know, no takers.

Pity that………..

I thought the reason for higher education was FOR the education not how well a bunch of buffed up schlubs performed on Saturdays.

I’m serious about this, after all the news about brain and other injuries, I just can’t get too excited about football in general any more. Most big money college sports for that matter………….

All this shit is getting out of hand.

shifty henry August 29, 2013 at 3:53 pm

Not a “chicken” – it’s a Gamecock, with a brave heart, the light of the Devil in the eyes, hellish spurs, and it attacks ferociously, and so forth …..

Squishy123 August 29, 2013 at 5:43 pm

It’s still a chicken.

La Gloria Cubana August 29, 2013 at 6:53 pm

Uh yeah.. that “chicken” in the rooster, fighting cock variety would probably take out your light loafered, squishy a$$.

Squishy123 August 29, 2013 at 8:38 pm

So it’s a boy chicken.

A French named internet bad-ass talking shit… now that’s funny.

Mike at the Beach August 29, 2013 at 11:52 pm

“French named.” Dude, you are genuinely funny, even when you don’t intend to be. Maybe especially when you don’t intend to be. If you didn’t intend to be…

Paula Deen August 29, 2013 at 5:53 pm

Pluck it, cut it up, and fry it…then tell me its not a chicken.

Polyphemos August 29, 2013 at 9:34 pm

Emollit mores nec sinit esse feros, or, “You don’t have to beat the crap out of students to make them gentlemen learners,” or, “Stay the hell away from 5-points, if you want to graduate.” (A posse ad esse.)

shifty henry August 29, 2013 at 11:25 pm

A guy was telling his grandkids how tough it was growing up in his neighborhood when he was a kid–

1) When they played cops and robbers they played with real cops.

2) They were so tough when they grew up they became either gangsters or priests.

3) When they had their school pictures taken, there was one taken from the front and one from the side.

Soft Sigh from Hell August 29, 2013 at 8:14 pm

I think it’s named after our valiant soldier who helped establish our nation, Thomas Sumter.

Polyphemos August 29, 2013 at 9:37 pm

So, what do you sadistic rednecks DO with the ram, after the game?

Just Sayin August 30, 2013 at 7:19 am

Paladin, you obviously do not know American history or South Carolina history. I urge you to go Wiki or Google General Thomas Sumter, a hero of the American Revolutionary War before you start passing judgment on Carolina using the Gamecock as its mascot you dumb fuck.

Paladin August 30, 2013 at 9:00 am

Well, I stand corrected. Carolina’s mascot is named after Gen. Sumter, who had an outstanding military career. But Gen, Sumter was nicknamed after a …chicken. And the logo looks a bit more like a chicken than it looks like the picture of Gen. Sumter I saw on wikipedia.

The Colonel August 30, 2013 at 9:27 am


Low Country Broil August 30, 2013 at 9:47 am

Good food. There is one on N. Main St. in Summerville. Are you really Col. Sanders?

SparkleCity August 30, 2013 at 11:01 pm

You neglected to mention that a large populace in South Carolina were loyalists and another shit load of residents of this state were pathetically ignorant of the situation and could care less what happened because they were too busy eaking a living out of the dirt.

The first civil war in “America” was during the Revolutionary War. South Carolina had more than its share of killings of neighbors just because one did not see things the way their neighbor did during the American Revolution.

South Carolina is nothing but a sawed off state that has done nothing but whored and pimped itself since English Lords divied up the land amongst themselves.

Ive been to Puerto Rico where they are serious about cock fighting and just like this state, one chicken is pitted against another until one gets killed and is made into chicken pie and the other one gets used up until it too is killed off without ever knowing why it was groomed to die. One is pitted against the other for the benefit of the “Massa” just like the “sheeple” of this state.

Take that for your fucking mascot.

And your palm tree and crescent moon to boot (when is the last time you ever saw a native palm tree (I know, I know a fucking Palmetto tree…) growing in the Upstate???

If you are gong to have a tree on the flag of South Carolina, make it the ubiquitous pine tree!!!

There’s your glorious and noble South Carolina history for ya!!!

Squishy123 August 29, 2013 at 5:47 pm

To summarize ESPN over the past few minutes –
Carolina is playing South Carolina
USC is playing Hawaii later tonight.

and Lou Holtz mumbled something.

La Gloria Cubana August 29, 2013 at 6:38 pm

Who cares what our name is?.. after all, you go by “Squishy” bahahahahahahahahahahahahahah!!!!!!!!! But sure, since the “real” USC and Carolina are way behind us in the rankings, one could basically argue that we’re the “real” USC and Carolina anymore. Anyway, given a choice between rankings and a name, I’ll take rankings.

Squishy123 August 29, 2013 at 6:45 pm

I picked it after that big Gamecock bad-ass last year who got his head squished by his buddy’s rear tire.

Polyphemos August 29, 2013 at 9:04 pm

A Gamecock is a chicken like a Tiger is a puss-puss.

Squishy123 August 29, 2013 at 9:49 pm

Never get off the boat… didn’t involve running into a chicken.

Polyphemos August 29, 2013 at 9:52 pm

Nice movie reference. Have you ever held a pissed off gamecock? No. You still have both eyes.

Squishy123 August 29, 2013 at 10:57 pm

Never really thought about it, or ever felt the need to hold a chicken period. If they piss you off can’t you just grab them by the neck and play helicopter until their body flies off in one direction and the head stays in your hand?

Polyphemos August 29, 2013 at 11:59 pm

Except Rams don’t have hands.

Squishy123 August 30, 2013 at 9:15 am

What? Are we just naming barnyard animals now?

Polyphemos August 30, 2013 at 3:30 pm

A “tarheel” is a male sheep – Scottish slang since the 17th C. Oh, and thanks for the dirty game. I believe my team won, regardless. And thanks for the reminder of why Carolina left the ACC.

SparkleCity August 30, 2013 at 11:17 pm

I’ve wrung more than my share of rooster’s necks and not a single one of them put up much of a fight

If one would had given me some shit, that is what the shotgun and/or baseball bat is for…………

Shazam August 29, 2013 at 7:20 pm

Well, I must say…the picture provided all I needed to understand a Tar Heel. Where’s one of the other side?

Squishy123 August 29, 2013 at 11:00 pm

I hope Clowney’s “tummy feels better”… because we all know you don’t throw up just by being out of shape. I suspect he’ll be doing a lot more stairs this week. I guess standing on the sidelines at practice or fucking around tweeting in the weight room soaking in all the Heisman hype doesn’t do much for your stamina.

Polyphemos August 29, 2013 at 11:58 pm

OK, everybody from UNC, please go away for another six years. AND SHUT UP!

I thank you.

I hope Clemson clobbers Georgia, btw. Sorry, cousins.

shifty henry August 30, 2013 at 11:17 am

After reading the previous comments, I’m more convinced than ever that college football is the best season of the year no matter what your loyalty .

T_Paine August 30, 2013 at 4:03 pm

how to write a story…
– try to come up with a clever trendy headline…check
– go to wikipedia & then copy/paste…check
– completely waste everyone’s time…check

kudos on a job well done!

SparkleCity August 30, 2013 at 11:12 pm

North Carolina:

“A valley of humility between two mountains of conceit”

I’ll give Virginia a few things though, – natural resources like coal,natural gas, etc;a better educated populace with good schools and generally don’t have their heads up their asses.

South Carolina?? Misguided pride and bull shit – not much else……..


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