Dave Mona’s Vignettes: Middle Tennessee State

View Comments

WHEN I FIRST HEARD THAT THE GOPHERS WOULD ENTER THE 2010 SEASON ON THE ROAD AT MIDDLE TENNESSEE STATE, I ASSUMED WE’D WIND UP AT A SMALL COLLEGE SOMEWHERE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE STATE OF TENNESSEE.

I WAS HALF RIGHT.

LET’S DEAL WITH THE GEOGRAPHY ISSUE FIRST. ALL WEEK LONG I’VE BEEN ANSWERING QUESTIONS FROM PEOPLE WANTING TO KNOW JUST WHERE THIS SCHOOL IS?

TURNS OUT THE PEOPLE WHO NAMED IT KNEW THEIR LATTITUDES AND LONGITUDES. ABOUT HALF A MILE FROM WHERE I’M SITTING RIGHT NOW IS A MARKER DESIGNATING THE GEOGRAPHIC CENTER OF THIS LONG, NARROW STATE.

WE’RE ABOUT 35 MILES SOUTH OF NASHVILLE IN THE FASTEST-GROWING CITY IN THE STATE. TO SOME, MURFREESBORO HAS BECOME A SORT OF BEDROOM COMMUNITY FOR THOSE WORKING IN THE MUSIC INDUSTRY THAT DOMINATES NASHVILLE. MURFREESBORO PASSED 100,000 RESIDENTS IN THE LAST CENSUS AND WAS NAMED BY MONEY MAGAZINE AS THE 84TH BEST PLACE TO LIVE IN AMERICA OUT OF CITIES WITH A POPULATION OF MORE THAN 50,000.

WHAT SURPRISED ME MORE THAN THE CITY WAS THE SIZE OF THE UNIVERSITY.

WITH AN UNDERGRADUATE ENROLLMENT OF 22,300 STUDENTS, MIDDLE TENNESSEE WOULD RANK NINTH IN THE BIG TEN, AHEAD OF BOTH IOWA AND NORTHWESTERN. AL GORE SR. LEADS A LIST OF PROMINENT ALUMNI.

FANS OF THE BLUE RAIDERS TOOK GREAT DELIGHT THIS WEEK WHEN THEIR FOOTBALL TEAM WAS RANKED ABOVE THE UNIVERSITY OF TENNESSEE IN THE MOST RECENT PRE-SEASON POLL. MIDDLE TENNESSEE FANS IN GENERAL HAVE LITTLE LOVE FOR THEIR STATE’S NAMED UNIVERSITY.

CIVIL WAR BUFFS MAY BE AMONG THOSE MOST FAMILIAR WITH THIS REGION. ON DECEMBER 31, 1862, THE BATTLE OF STONES RIVER, ALSO CALLED THE BATTLE OF MURFREESBORO, WAS FOUGHT HERE.

BETWEEN THE NEW YEAR’S EVE AND JANUARY 2, 1863, THERE WERE 23,515 CASUALTIES, MAKING IT ONE OF THE BLOODIEST BATTLES OF THE WAR. THE BATTLE RESULTED IN A UNION VICTORY WHICH EFFECTIVELY DROVE THE CONFEDERATE TROOPS OUT OF MOST OF TENNESSEE AND PROVIDED A MAJOR LIFT FOR ABE LINCOLN AND THE UNION SUPPORTERS STILL SMARTING FROM A DEVESTATING LOSS AT FREDERICKSBURG, VIRGINIA, TWO WEEKS EARLIER.

THERE IS A MAJOR PARK NEAR HERE WHICH TELLS THE STORY OF THAT CONFLICT. ACCORDING TO A BOOK WRITTEN SEVERAL YEARS AFTER THE WAR, THE TWO SIDES CAMPED NEAR EACH OTHER ON THE COLD WINTER NIGHT OF DECEMBER 30.THIS WAS NO AMBUSH. BOTH SIDES KNEW THE POSITIONS OF THEIR OPPONENTS. ALL THROUGH THE EVENING HOURS THE BANDS ON BOTH SIDES TOOK TURNS PLAYING THEIR FAVORITE SONGS. THEY ALTERNATED ALL THROUGH THE NIGHT UNTIL ONE OF THEM PLAYED “HOME SWEET HOME,” AND THE OPPOSING BAND JOINED IN WITH THE SAME SENTIMENTAL HOLIDAY THOUGHT. AT SUNRISE THE BATTLE BEGAN.

WHILE WE EXPECT NO BATTLE OF THE BANDS TODAY, WE DO HAVE WHAT APPEARS TO BE TWO EVENLY MATCHED FORCES, AND THE GOPHERS WOULD BE HAPPY TO EMULATE THE UNION VICTORY AND RETREAT HOME TO MINNESOTA TO FIGHT AN INVADING SOUTH DAKOTA TEAM NINE DAYS FROM NOW.

View Comments
blog comments powered by Disqus
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,993 other followers