MaddenOn his recent KCBS radio segment, football legend John Madden spoke of his fondness for Santa Maria Style Barbecue, and revealed that he and his son Mike recently held a Santa Maria BBQ contest in Mike’s backyard…

“When I was in Santa Maria, Santa Maria Style BBQ was top sirloin, then somehow it became tri-tip,” Madden said. “I said sirloin was better than tri-tip. We had a contest, and the winner was top sirloin.”

Madden was head coach for Santa Maria‚Äôs Allan Hancock College football team in 1962 and 1963. He was also assistant coach in 1961. And he is right about top block sirloin being the signature cut of Santa Maria Style Barbecue at that time…

As we’ve shared here before, tri-tip was popularized in the 1950s by a local butcher. At that time, top block sirloin was the go-to cut for Santa Maria Style Barbecue.

Today, many folks are under the impression that tri-tip is the definitive cut of Santa Maria BBQ. That’s understandable, because it’s a distinctive cut that was popularized right here in the Santa Maria Valley.

But Santa Maria Style Barbecue has been going strong since the 1800s, and old timers like John Madden will tell you that top block sirloin is just as true as tri-tip when it comes to Santa Maria Style Barbecue.