One fact you might know: Sal Sunseri was a consensus All-American and team captain at the University Pittsburgh during one of the program's most successful eras from 1978-1981.
Something you might not know: Sunseri started as a walk-on and many doubted that he could play Division I football.
Tennessee's first-year defensive coordinator had rarely discussed his playing career until Wednesday, when he brought it up without prompting.
Sunseri has been under fire for a Tennessee defense that is ranked 112th of 120 teams nationally, allowed 721 yards of total offense last week to Troy and seems to get worse as the season goes on.
By comparing this season to the adversity he faced as a player, Sunseri may have offered a rare glimpse into his mindset during a weekly interview in which he is usually very guarded.
"People told me I was too small to play, I was too this — and all that," Sunseri said. "I worked through it, and got it done. And right now we've just got to play better defense. That's the attitude that I want to take to the kids. We're going to work through it."
Tennessee (4-5, 0-5 SEC) plays Missouri (4-5, 1-5) at Neyland Stadium on Saturday (TV: WVLT, 12:21 p.m.).
Tennessee coach Derek Dooley has promised to take a more active role on defense and said he plans changes in game-planning and game-day management after last week's debacle.
"He's the boss. I think it will be good," Sunseri said. "I'm not disappointed in the kids; I'm disappointed in myself. I just got to keep pushing them and finding out what's going to trigger them to make them better. I know what (the players) have the capability of doing, I've just got to get it out of them."
Sunseri likely will move upstairs to coach from the press box, which he had done for the past seven years before becoming coordinator.
"I like being up there because you get better eyes up there and can see more of what's going on," he said.
Beyond that, it's unclear what will be different on Saturday. Sunseri said nothing will change
for him, other than perhaps his location.
"I hope they don't change it a whole bunch," Missouri offensive coordinator David Yost joked in comments published this week in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "If you watch the video, they've kind of done everything this year, so I don't know what else is out there."
The Vols have tried to simplify the defense. The secondary is vulnerable to long balls when playing in man coverage and short stuff when playing in zone.
When prodded, Sunseri acknowledged that his defense is difficult to run successfully without speed in the secondary, something that seems in short supply this season. But Sunseri otherwise avoided even the slightest criticism of players, saying "my hat's off to the kids" for their hard work in practice.
As for the personal criticism of his coaching, Sunseri said he wouldn't shy away from responsibility.
"You always have pride," Sunseri said. "We're not playing as good as we need to play on defense, and I'm responsible. I'm the guy that's calling it. So it's got to get done. I'm not one to turn my face away from it, my eyes away from it. We've got to get it done, and we're going to keep battling until we get it done."
Sunseri said he hasn't wavered from the defensive philosophy that won championships at Alabama and helped him land a coordinator job at Tennessee.
"You have your mentors that you talk to and you speak your mind and see what the heck advice they have," Sunseri said. "But the bottom line is, there is a plan and the plan is good, because the plan has been very successful. We've just got to go implement it."
Evan Woodbery covers Tennessee football. Follow him at www.Twitter.com/Tennesseebeat.