The Kyle Petty Charity Ride Across America rolled into Irvington, Va., Monday, and former Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker is one of the celebrities participating, putting several thousand miles on his bike and meeting fans across the country.
Monday night, though, Walker joined several of us for dinner, entertaining the table with stories about growing up in rural Georgia. But upon learning that I grew up in Tennessee, Walker jokingly took aim at my higher education, a degree from Middle Tennessee State University.
"I think everybody should get a diploma, even people from Tennessee," said Walker, taking aim at the state of one of the University of Georgia's rivals.
So I have to tell the truth -- I hated Walker as he ran all over the University of Tennessee. Regardless of where you went to school, most people in the state are fans of University of Tennessee football. Every season Tennessee fans start the season with high expectations but, typically, see those hopes dashed. With Walker running wild in college football, it seemed the Vols' season was crushed by the 'Dogs with Walker running for 500 yards.
But despite Walker's good-natured shots, Petty, a pilot, pointed out that Middle Tennessee State University has one of the finest aerospace program in the country. I also correctly pointed out that Middle Tennessee has the country's top-rated concrete engineering colleges (really important when you are in a 60-story building) and one of the finest colleges of communications in the nation.
To Walker's credit, though, Georgia whipped the University of Tennessee, and Middle Tennessee was never at the level to compete. But questioning my higher education?
I may have to enter the octagon with Walker, a mixed martial arts fighter, to sort this one out.
In the meantime, the charity ride rolls on and Walker is one of the stars.