College football fever returns to the MTSU campus Saturday, Sept. 2, as the Blue Raiders entertain Vanderbilt in a nonconference game at 7 p.m. in Floyd Stadium.
And 4 1/2 hours before kickoff, the inaugural “Minds of Middle: The Deans’ Tailgate” begins at 2:30 p.m. in Walnut Grove between Peck Hall and the Cope Administration Building.
In what may become one of the top MTSU football tailgating events for students, faculty and staff, alumni and fans, first-year College of Graduate Studies Dean David Butler plans to offer plenty of food from local vendors, games and three large-screen televisions showing other games under the 30-by-20-foot tent.
Butler’s Texas roots, including plenty of A&M football, and his previous job at the University of Southern Mississippi only add to his passion for college football Saturdays.
“I saw an opportunity to build a graduate student culture on the MTSU landscape around a popular sporting event,” Butler said of MTSU tailgating at MTSU, as well as a great avenue “to highlight the graduate program at each home game.”
A friend suggested the name “Minds of Middle.” Butler approached various deans throughout campus for their support, and “The Deans’ Tailgate” became a subtitle.
For the MT-Vandy game, the “Minds of Middle” tent will be next to the Office of Alumni Relations tent.
For the remaining five home games — Sept. 23 against Bowling Green State University, Oct. 7 homecoming against Florida International University, Oct. 20 against Marshall University, Nov. 4 Salute to Veterans and Armed Services game against Texas-El Paso and Nov. 25 against Old Dominion University — the “Minds of Middle” tent will occupy the alumni tent’s spot.
University College, the College of Behavioral and Health Sciences, College of Media and Entertainment, College of Basic and Applied Sciences and College of Education will sponsor the remaining five games.
Butler, who also is MTSU’s vice provost for research, said each college will take a section and highlight two graduate programs.
“It’ll almost look like a science fair event,” he added. “Students can come by, have a great time and learn about graduate programs at MTSU.”
Food vendors will include Slick Pig, Puckett’s Grocery, Jack Brown’s Joint, food trucks and more. Raffles, collectible T-shirts and prizes are part of the tailgate.
An RSVP is preferred, but not required. To register, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
In addition to football, Butler said the College of Graduate Studies will include Blue Raider/Lady Raider basketball, Nashville Sounds baseball and other MTSU sports in encouraging students to enjoy their college experience.
For more information, call 615-898-2840. The College of Graduate Studies is located on the first floor of the Ingram Building, 2269 Middle Tennessee Blvd.
— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)