10 Fun Facts About... Tennessee Tech

Kevin Murphy is the current most major Golden Eagle. - Russ Isabella-US PRESSWIRE

The series returns with a frank and honest discussion of Wisconsin's Week 2 opponent from an engineering school in Tennessee.

I know what you're thinking. Hold the jokes. I know you want to say "h-hyuck" in regards to Tennessee having an engineering school. It's an easy joke. And easy jokes are fun.

But Tennessee is famous for its Valley Authority, marvels of engineering that help provide electricity to seven states. So no more "southerners are dumb" jokes for the rest of the post, OK?

This is a game wherefore the fun facts will likely have to go into effect. Tennessee Tech was 3-8 last year. And they had a talented, if troubled prospect in Da'Rick Rogers. I mean, there's always the possibility that the Badgers embarrass themselves by letting the Golden Eagles keep it close.

But if they don't?

1. For a school not named Murray State, Tennessee Tech has a real chance to have multiple active a nice array of athletes in professional sports from the Ohio Valley Conference. The photo is of Utah Jazz two-guard Kevin Murphy, a former second-round pick and Golden Eagle. The aforementioned Da'Rick Rogers is going to be in the race as a receiver in Buffalo. Add to it Frank Omiyale of the Seahawks and the currently injured Stephen Pryor of the Mariners?And this is the most representation the Golden Eagles have had in pro sports since the 1970s.

2. Something that would fly in Wisconsin? James Bedford was one of Jack Daniels' Master Distillers. James Bedford was also a Tennessee Tech graduate. It ended badly, but there was some Golden Eagle flavor in your finer whiskeys there.

3. Are you a fan of saxophones or someone who thought saying saxamaphones would lead you into a music career and all the ladies or dudes you want? Tennessee Tech is the school for you. John Phil Barham is a top notch Professor of Saxophone. And that is his official title. Which is awesome.

4. The current head coach of the Golden Eagles? Watson Brown. He was the former coach at Rice, Vanderbilt and UAB. He is also the older brother of Mack Brown.

5. There's another football coach who was born in Cookeville besides the Brown brothers. Jim Carlen may not be the most famous of coaches, but he managed a career 107-69-6 record during his time at West Virginia, Texas Tech and South Carolina.

6. Cookeville, Tenn., is the seat of Putnam County. Now one would think that the 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee would have been set here. It was not. But a Tom Waits song was. And if you don't know who Tom Waits is? Man. You should go a mission to find out. He's good stuff.

7. The man credited with making Tennessee Tech into a bastion of Cookeville and a robust university? William Walter Derryberry. In his 34 years since returning from his time in Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar, he's credited with turning a campus that was just a few buildings into a sprawling 225-acre bastion of higher learning. His wife, Joan, is credited with writing the school hymn. They have a residence hall and an on-campus art gallery named in their honor.

8. Tennessee Tech has a tale of a dog that might be one of the more famous ones north of the Hedges of Athens. Seems as if there was this stray mutt in the 1950s. And this university president was swearing at the dog. People were aghast. But the president thought quickly and covered his tracks by saying the dog's name was Dammit. Apocryphal? Perhaps. But if you're in Cookeville? You can visit his gravestone by DeBerry Hall.

9. I made mention of John Phil Barham and his saxophonery. Wisconsin has always had love in its heart for some quality tuba players, and R. Winston Morris leads one of the better Tuba ensembles in the country with his Tennessee Tech Tuba ensemble.

10. Continuing the musical theme, one of the all-time great female country singers, Dottie West, might be the most famous Tennessee Tech alum. West had five No. 1 hits between 1978 and 1981. This was 13 years after her Grammy Award for being the best Female Vocalist. In fact, this was the first time a country singer had ever won such an award.

Ten arcane bits of trivia and knowledge? Some facts are more fun than the others. But the fact is, these are all true. And you now know more than you previously did.

And listen to more Tom Waits. It's good for you.

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