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Stranger Things: Tennessee Coaching Edition

The content that you didn’t know you needed.

Kentucky v Tennessee Photo by Donald Page/Getty Images

Stranger Things, one of Netflix’s most popular series, has returned for its highly anticipated third season. If you haven’t seen the show yet it’s a captivating blend of 1980’s pop culture, heroism, and friendship that is absolutely a must-watch. Don’t be ‘that guy’ that makes a conscious effort to avoid it just because everyone else loves the show - no one likes ‘that guy.’

Now, this season drops right in the perfect window of time where we, quite honestly, have very little to talk about in terms of college football news. So I got to thinking: what if we took a look at Tennessee Vols football coaches as characters from Stranger Things? Then, I took it a step further and wrote an entire article on the topic. Football please come quickly.

Before we get going I want to touch on a couple of important notes. For one, this article is going to be packed full of spoilers from seasons one and two. So, if you’re planning on watching the show at any point you need to stop reading right now and circle back when you’re all caught up. Secondly, this is the definitive list. You might disagree with me, but you’ll be wrong. But, hey, if you want to argue about it feel free to hit me up on Twitter - let’s bless the timeline with an argument that doesn’t center around shoe companies or the cost of a parade!

We’ll kick off our list with an easy one.


If you’re familiar with the show at all you know that Eleven is probably the most important character in the show. She was born with psychokinetic powers that prove extremely useful when the gang get into difficult situations. When she first meets Mike, Dustin, and Lucas she uses her powers for some relatively minor tasks, like beating up school bullies Troy and James. After developing her powers Eleven becomes an unstoppable force, vanquishing the Demogorgon and closing gates to other dimensions. The group owes most all of their success to Eleven, and we shudder to think about what Hawkins, Indiana might look like if not for Eleven’s help. She is able to do things that pretty much no other character will be able to accomplish. This is a slam dunk, Eleven is Robert Neyland.

University Of Tennessee Volunteers Football

Steve Harrington

Steve is the prototypical jock. He is the star on his basketball team, and - until Billy shows up in season two - generally considered the most popular guy at the school. Steve’s character is all about ‘the comeback.’ He spends much of season one acting like a jerk because he believes that his girlfriend, Nancy, is cheating on him with Jonathan Byers. However, he eventually becomes one of the show’s most likable characters. He acts as an older brother to the main party, and puts his life in danger multiple times in order to protect them. At Tennessee, there is one coach in particular who had a rough start, but finished incredibly well. And, you can’t say “comeback” and “Tennessee” in the same sentence without thinking of the Notre Dame game in 1991. Steve Harrington is Johnny Majors.

University of Tennessee Volunteers vs Notre Dame Fighting Irish Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Allsport/Getty Images

Bob Newby

Bob Newby came completely out of nowhere in season two. He was a calming and comforting presence for the nervous Joyce Byers as she recovered from the emotional trauma of her son being lost in an alternate dimension. In season two, “Bob the Brain” was given an impossible task. He had to navigate through Hawkins lab, which was dark and infested with Demodogs, to restore the building’s power and provide an escape. Bob was the only person with both the expertise and will to do that job. And, all things considered he did pretty well...until the very end when he was completely MAULED. A calming presence that came out of nowhere and was given an impossible task? Come on, this is too easy. Bob Newby is Jeremy Pruitt.

Tennessee v Vanderbilt Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Nancy Wheeler

Nancy is way, way too young to find herself mixed up in all of the craziness of the Upside Down. She just wanted to have fun and party with Steve and the popular crowd. She is indecisive, and eventually finds herself conflicted between two loves, Steve Harrington and Jonathan Byers. When she realizes her true feelings for Jonathan she drops Steve like a bad habit. She was unassuming early on in the series, but as the seasons have progressed she has become surprisingly more dangerous. This is a no-brainer here. Nancy Wheeler is Lane Kiffin.

UCLA v Tennessee Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Dustin Henderson

Dustin has two qualities really going for him. First of all, he has fantastic hair. His hair only gets more fantastic after he learns that Steve’s secret to great hair is Farrah Fawcett hair spray. Secondly, Dustin is probably the most funny out of any member of the group. But, Dustin also has poor judgement, which we see when he continues to hide Dart even though the group is pretty convinced that Dart is some form of a Demogorgon. Now, my friend and colleague at Rocky Top Talk, Conner Knapp, claims that Dustin saved the group toward the end of season two. I totally disagree. Dustin wasn’t a savior. Dustin’s major accomplishment is feeding Dart nougat so the party wouldn’t get eaten. Great hair, funny, but ultimately doesn’t put up much of a fight when faced with real danger? Dustin Henderson is Derek Dooley.

Tennessee Volunteers Vs. Vanderbilt Commodores Football

The Demogorgon

The Demogorgon is an interesting character. We only see it during the first season, and most of the time the Demogorgon is shown in brief snippets. The audience doesn’t get a good look at the Demogorgon until the tail end of the season, but what we see it horrifying. The Demogorgon is LOUD and destructive. It aims to take away and destroy the show’s main characters. Ultimately, the Demogorgon is gone just as fast as it came. It’s unclear whether or not the Demogorgon KNOWS WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE AT TENNESSEE, but what is clear is that the Demogorgon is Brady Hoke.

LSU v Tennessee Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Will Byers

Will Byers is a main character of the show, but not a particularly effective one. For season one he is basically missing the entire time in the Upside Down; for season two he arguably does more to help the enemy than he does his friends. Will gets bailed out, a lot. Will Byers is Butch Jones.

Tennessee v Missouri Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Remember, this is the definitive list. But, there are still plenty of characters left. If you think there are others that you feel should be included let if fly in the comments below. Only two more months until football is back. We can do it!