There was laughter, jewelry and even a little harmonica.
The 2017 annual Tyler/Smith Country Texas Exes Send Off and Scholarship Dinner delivered hours of entertainment and memories as the alumni and honored guests were treated to a little bit of everything from speakers Nic Redwine, Ray Woodard and Bill Bradley.
The event took place at Hollytree Country Club. The annual dinner raises funds for scholarships. This year’s recipients of a $2,500 scholarship are Arbab Ahmed, Grant Perkins, Emily Sparkman and Carlos Villapudua - all of which will begin attending Texas in the fall.
Both Redwine and Bradley donned their national championship and state championship rings. Redwine won his as a defensive lineman for the 2005 Texas National Championship team and Bradley won his as quarterback for Palestine’s 1964 title.
What Woodard lacked in jewelry from his fellow Texas greats, he made up for in degrees. The former NFL lineman is now Dr. Woodard after he earned his doctorate in Educational Leadership from Lamar University in 2014, one of four degrees Woodard has.
Each recounted their favorite Texas moments with Bradley, a former NFL player and coach, whipping out his harmonica to play a couple tunes before finally leading the audience in “The Eyes of Texas Are Upon You.”
At Texas, Woodard was part of a unit that led the nation in defense en-route to an undefeated regular season before being denied a national championship by a 10-9 loss in the 1983 Cotton Bowl. After an NFL career that included a trip to the Super Bowl as a member of the 1985-86 Denver Broncos, Woodard coached in NFL Europe before returning stateside to coach Navarro from 2005-07 and head further south to resurrect the Lamar University football program from 2008-16.
He is now retired and looking forward to enjoying games a fan. And Woodard has a solution for how to get Texas and Texas A&M back on the field against each other.
“It’s such a great rivalry and as a former player I know we always looked forward to that game,” Woodard continued. “I think a way to do it would be to play that game as the first one of the college season and play it all over the world.”
Woodard said he thinks by playing it as the unquestioned first game of the college season every year will allow it to be marketed as a must-see matchup that could be played in Tokyo one year and London the next.
“And you know Texas and A&M fans will travel all over the world to those games no matter where they’re played,” Woodard said.
Imagine one year it’s the first game of the season in Tokyo and another year London … imagine the marketing opportunities, and you know the Texas and A&M fans would travel all over the world.”
Redwine, a Robert E. Lee 2003 graduate, was a part of Texas’ 2005 national championship team. He is now a businessman and certified life professional coach living with wife in Round Rock.
Redwine said it was “good to be back home.”
“My niche specifically is I like to work with current and former athletes, so they can live a more fulfilling life,” Redwine said. “The way that I accomplish this is I pretty much meet my clients in the middle and I assist them in creating more fun, joy and balance in their life.”
Bill Bradley’s leadership and selflessness was immortalized recently in the movie “My All American.” The then-captain of the Longhorns was replaced at quarterback two games into his senior season by coach Darrell Royal, who thought James Street could run his new wishbone offense better. Instead of fracturing the team, Bradley moved to defensive back and set a college record with four interceptions in one game.
Presenter Bryan Houston took questions from the audience as they enjoyed listening to three generations of Longhorns.
Bradley said new Texas coach, Tom Herman, reminds him of Royal with his attention to the smallest details.
“He’s recruiting like crazy and he’s working their rear-ends off; and nobody’s job is safe, which is good,” Bradley said. “If they don’t do it right, they'v got to do it all over again, which is pretty cool. That is the way coach Royal did it."
Texas begins its season Sept. 2 at home against Maryland. Bradley is pleased with what he's seeing, but said it's "show me time."
"Win as many games as you can and win the conference and be very competitive," Bradley said of expectations. "Everybody in this part of the country and all over the United States, in my mind, wants Texas to be relevant again. The Big 12 conference is a good conference, and if Texas will get relevant again, it's going to just explode."