John Barnhill was a college football coach from 1931-1949 at the University of Tennessee and the University of Arkansas. After playing at Tennessee from 1927-1929, Barnhill worked as an assistant on the Vols’ coaching staff from1931-1940. He took over as head coach in 1941 and posted an impressive 32-5-2 record in four seasons, and his teams ended the season in the final Associated Press poll all four years. Barnhill was 15-3-1 in SEC play and never finished worse than second in the conference standings. He won the 1942 Sugar Bowl and in 1944 was named SEC Coach of the Year despite losing in the Rose Bowl.
Barnhill left his alma mater for Arkansas in 1946 and went 22-17-3 in four seasons as coach of the Razorbacks. In 1946 his team finished first in the Southwestern Conference and played in the Cotton Bowl, and in 1947 his Razorbacks won the Dixie Bowl. Barnhill was also the athletic director at Tennessee from 1941-45 and Arkansas from 1946-49. He passed away in 1973 at the age of 70.