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TIGER KICKOFF: 10 things you didn't know about Tennessee

Friday, November 1, 2013 | 6:00 a.m. CDT; updated 6:15 a.m. CDT, Friday, November 1, 2013

COLUMBIA — Missouri is still in first place of the Southeastern Conference East Division, but the margin of error got a lot slimmer after last week's home loss to South Carolina in double overtime. 

The Tigers don't get a breather, either. Tennessee comes to town off a bad loss to Alabama. The Volunteers have already upset South Carolina this season, so Missouri will be on alert. 

Here are 10 things you didn't know about the Tennessee Volunteers, who hail from Knoxville, Tenn.

10. Kenny Chesney was born in Knoxville, Tenn. Nashville may be known as the birthplace of country music, but one of the genre's modern stars was born a few hours east. Chesney has sold more than 30 million albums in his career.

9. Speaking of great voices, Mary Costa, the voice of Princess Aurora in the film adaptation of "Sleeping Beauty," also is from Knoxville. Tennessee's football team tends to think of itself as a sleeping beauty this season after pulling off an upset of South Carolina two weeks ago. 

8. The University of Tennessee is home to the only museum dedicated entirely to women's basketball. The Lady Volunteers have one of the top women's basketball programs in the country. Pat Summitt led the program to eight NCAA Championships and 16 Southeastern Conference titles.

7. Tennessee's official school nickname is the Volunteers. The nickname is derived from the fact that a large number of Tennesseans volunteered in the War of 1812, the Mexican-American War and the Civil War. The name Volunteers was first used for athletics by media organizations, beginning in 1902. 

6. Tennessee is full of action and adventure. Quentin Tarantino, director of films including "Pulp Fiction," "Inglourious Basterds" and "Reservoir Dogs", was born in Knoxville. Meanwhile, famous stuntman Johnny Knoxville, best known for his work on the television series "Jackass," also calls the town home.

5. The Rock is a mainstay on Tennessee's campus. The giant slab of rock was uncovered in the 1960s and became a place where students painted messages. The university used to sandblast the messages away but has come to accept the tradition of coloring the rock. Tennessee was hard at work whitewashing the Rock before last week's game against Alabama, though, when a Crimson Tide fan painted the rock red with the message, "Roll Tide Roll."

4. Tennessee claims six national championships in football and has sent dozens of players to the NFL, but none are more decorated than current Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning. After playing four seasons at Tennessee, Manning was the No. 1 overall pick in the 1998 NFL Draft. He's gone on to throw from more than 60,000 yards in his NFL career, good for No. 2 on the all-time list behind Brett Favre. 

3. The Volunteers won't be overwhelmed by the crowd at Memorial Stadium. Tennessee's football stadium, Neyland Stadium, has the fifth-largest capacity in all of college football. The stadium, which recently underwent more than $100 million worth of renovations, holds more than 102,000 people on game day. When it first opened in 1921, Neyland Stadium held slightly more than 3,000 people. 

2. While most schools practice tailgating, few practice "Sailgating," like the fans at Tennessee do. Outside of Neyland Stadium before every home football game, more than 200 boats set up shop on the Tennessee River and enjoy a tailgating atmosphere.

1. Smokey is the official mascot of the University of Tennessee. In 1953, Tennessee's pep club organized a contest for a live mascot. The story goes that a bluetick hound responded to the large crowd at the event with a howl. The rest is history. The dog now leads the team onto the field for each home game. Last year when Tennessee played against Kentucky, Smokey ran after the Wildcats' kicker, so Missouri kicker Andrew Baggett might want to be on the lookout for that Saturday.

Supervising editor is Erik Hall.


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