He has a unique story and history. Auburn's raptor center, the home of the eagles who fly at Auburn's football games, is named in honor of his mother because of the contributions Woody made toward building a new center. His name is also on several buildings at the vet school because of his contributions to Auburn.
Woody grew up in Montgomery and wanted to attend Auburn, but his father was a medical doctor who attended the University of Alabama, where he was a close friend with Coach (Bear) Bryant there. His father was adamant that Woody was going to Alabama and was going to become a medical doctor, but Woody's love was horses, rodeos and being a cowboy.
Because of pressure from his father, Woody went to Alabama and graduated. He then went into the service. When he got out he came back and did what he wanted to do, which was attend Auburn and earn a degree in veterinary medicine. He graduated from Auburn in 1964.
In the meantime he began buying up land east of Montgomery in the Pike Road area when you could do that very inexpensively in those days. He bought it to raise horses and run his cows while he practiced veterinary medicine. Over the years he has grown into one of the icons in the American horse business.
He has a big ranch in Pike Road and has also got big ranches in Texas and Wyoming, which total about 90,000 acres.
Woody's life has been dedicated to breeding and developing quality horses. By improving the bloodlines he has developed big, strong ranch type horses that move good in open country. In the last 20 years he has been heavily involved in the cutting horse industry and has been highly successful. He and his late wife Kelley competed all over the country and they and their horses won everywhere they went.
This weekend in Birmingham athletes and sportsmen who have contributed to sporting events from this state are being honored at the induction ceremony for the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame. In my opinion Dr. Woody Bartlett is worthy of consideration for being included in that hall of fame. He has dedicated his life to developing better horses and has won national championships doing it. He has made a major impact on improving the breed of rodeo horses, cutting horses and ranch horses.
I am working on getting all of his records and accomplishments together so I can nominate him for the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame. He is 75 years old now and I think it would be a great time to recognize him for his contributions to the horse industry, which have made him well known around the country. It is interesting to me that he is still going strong at 75.
He has also been a model citizen everywhere he has been. If you go to the Pike Road community you can see his footprints throughout the area. The same thing is true where his ranch is out in Weatherford, Tex., as well in Thermopolis, Wyoming.
In addition to making major contributions to Auburn, he has done the same thing with Texas A&M, which is close to his ranch in Texas, as well as at Colorado State because of its vet school, which is close to his ranch in Wyoming.
In my opinion Woody is a special guy, but he sure doesn't act like he thinks he is special. If you see him he is going to have bluejeans and boots on, and maybe a baseball hat or a cowboy hat. He is just a regular guy who can walk with the kings of the horse industry and is comfortable with the regular folks, who are comfortable with him.
On the subject of the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame, one of the players we recruited to Auburn when I was the head coach was Steve Wallace, who is being inducted this weekend. The only surprise about Steve and the hall of fame is that he isn't already in it.
Steve is right there with the best of the left tackles that we have had at Auburn. He came in with that freshman class with Bo Jackson that did so much for the program. The NFL career he had with the '49ers, protecting Joe Montana and Steve Young, was very impressive. You can be sure that Montana and Young know who Steve Wallace is.
(If you have a question or a subject you would like me to write about in future columns, you can email it to PatDye@autigers.com.)
Editor's Note: This is part of a series of columns that College Football Hall of Fame member Pat Dye is writing for AUTigers.com about the game he played and coached. An All-American player at Georgia and one of the top head coaches in SEC history at Auburn, he also served as a head coach at East Carolina and Wyoming. Dye participates in the Legends Poll, a Top 25 rating of the best teams in college football as determined by a panel of all-star former head coaches. Dye writes three columns for AUTigers.com--The Dye-Log, the Dye-Gest and Pat's Picks.