Disney: Wartime Era (1943-1949)
Tennessee: John Barnhill Era (1941-1945)
Tennessee football and the Walt Disney Company both had a wartime era. And for both, it came right on the heels of the Golden Age. It’s also an era many fans forget when it comes to both entities, which is interesting on its own.
Disney began the wartime era in 1943. During this time, the company made propaganda films for the U.S. to boost morale during World War II. This was a time of sacrifice, and Disney was no different than anybody else in the U.S. in the 1940s.
You literally probably can’t remember any Disney films from this time, as none of them were smash hits at the box office and were almost always a collection of shorts made into movies. But the company stayed afloat throughout.
Meanwhile, the Vols had to give up Robert Neyland again, as he was called to service. They turned to John Barnhill, and Barnhill actually did a very good job leading the program. Sure, the season was cancelled in 1943 due to the war.
However, UT enjoyed some pretty solid successes under Barnhill. They went 8-2 in 1941, 9-1-1 in 1942, 7-1-1 in 1944 and 8-1 in 1945 and had four top 20 finishes, including a top 10 finish and Sugar Bowl win in 1942. Since he played end for the Vols in the early Neyland years, Barnhill was a blast from the past, similar to the Disney movies of the time with its focus on shorts.