Disney: Revival (2010-2017)
Tennessee: Later Johnny Majors through Phillip Fulmer (1985-2004)
Walt Disney hit its best time ever when the animation studios were in the Revival era, and the Tennessee Vols hit their peak as an athletic program when football was in the revival era. So this was the best time for both of them.
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Let’s start with the things we focused on. Tennessee football hit a major revival under Johnny Majors beginning in 1985. From 1985 to 2004, through the second half of Majors’s tenure and the majority of Phillip Fulmer’s, the Vols won five SEC Championships and a national championship. They also had 19 winning seasons and 17 top 25 finishes in 20 years.
Disney Animation, meanwhile, had the same success. The 1985 season could be compared to “Tangled.” Meanwhile, the 1998 season could be compared to “Frozen.” In fact, they’re similar in two ways. The 1998 Vols are the most accomplished, but they aren’t better than the 1997 team or even the 1999 team.
“Frozen” is Disney’s most accomplished movie at the time, but it’s not the best. “Moana and “Coco” were better as well. Speaking of “Coco,” Disney Animation really took off this decade because it merged with Pixar. So those hit homerun after homerun.
By the way, the precursor to both was good as well. For Disney, it was “The Princess and the Frog” in 2009, which was significantly better than other Post-Renaissance films but still was part of that era. The same was true with the Vols under Tony Robinson and Reggie White in the early to mid-1980s. They laid the foundation for what would come.
Anyway, what really makes this era similar is Disney and UT beginning to dominate in other fields while doing great in their respective sports. Disney bought Lucasfilm and launched a new Star Wars trilogy and began to dominate with the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Meanwhile, during this time, the Vols made two College World Series appearances, won six national titles in women’s basketball, and restored themselves as a program with four straight 20-win seasons under Jerry Green. So everything was working right.
Tennessee football and Walt Disney Animation were both part of something that was clicking on all cylinders during this time. It’s hard to ignore that fact, and there is no better time period as a whole for the Vols and Disney.