Oklahoma State mega-booster T. Boone Pickens will be at Thursday night’s game, but first he wanted to give an update on his life.
Pickens, 90, has met with media in years past for a meet-and-greet prior to the first game. Last season, because of a stroke and a “Texas-sized fall,” Pickens was unable to. This year, he posted a typed statement on his website and ensured that when the Cowboys kick off against Missouri State at 7 p.m., he will be there.
Pickens started the statement saying he intended to make it to every home game in the stadium named after the famed oilman turned clean energy proponent.
“Despite my health setbacks, I made all but one home game, and fully intend to make them all this year,” Pickens said in the statement. “I’m in this to win a national championship. Turning 90 as I did last May only fuels that fire. Time for me is winding down, but I remain an optimist that Mike Gundy can and will deliver on a national championship. The sooner the better. At 90, I don’t buy green bananas.”
Pickens joked that like his friend, the late Ronald Reagan, he feels like the president did in the 1940 film “Knute Rockne: All-American.” But unlike Reagan’s character George Gipp, Pickens feels like it is he that is close to the grave with Gundy being his Rockne.
“That’s where I am with Coach Gundy,” Pickens said. “‘Mike, go out there with all you’ve got and win just one for the Boonester.’”
Pickens went on to say that unlike years past where there has been a purported rift between he and the OSU football coach, the two have "healed a lot of wounds." He also said he is excited to see how former Cowboys Mason Rudolph and James Washington will do for the Pittsburgh Steelers in the NFL.
Not only is Pickens excited for the football season to start, but also because of the near finish of the “Athletic Village” he envisioned more than a decade ago when he donated a record $265 million toward athletics as part of his more than $1 billion for the university as a whole over the years.
While the economy prevented it from being created as quickly as he wanted, the deed is almost done as OSU soccer opened up Neal Patterson Stadium a few weeks ago and a new baseball stadium is set to open in 2020.
“New tennis facilities. New soccer stadium. New baseball stadium underway. And in each instance, the respective programs have become exponentially better,” Pickens said. “I’ll put it on the table here and now. When the timing is right, I think serious consideration should be given to naming the village in honor of the one who made it happen. “The Mike Holder Athletic Village.” He deserves it. Mike has dedicated his life to this school. Mike is like a son to me, and is one of the humblest people I know. He’d fight the naming honor to the end.”
Oklahoma State Athletics followed with a response by Holder.
"I am flattered by the idea of naming the Athletic Village after me. Everyone knows how I feel about Boone Pickens and the immense respect I have for him. However, I don't think you should have something named after you for simply doing your job," Holder wrote. "Putting an administrator's name on the village would bring no value to the project. I would much prefer having a donor's name on the facility to help us add to the village and ensure its upkeep."
Although Pickens wants an honor for Holder, the OSU athletics director, the school is already looking to pay homage to its biggest benefactor.
“I’m honored that the university has commissioned a sculpture of me to stand at the entrance to the West End Zone at Boone Pickens Stadium,” Pickens said “I’m hopeful it can be in place for next year’s football season. Hopefully, not long after that, I’ll be joined by Barry Sanders, who is so deserving of his own sculpture.”
Pickens closed with saying he wants to be buried in Stillwater, the home of his alma mater and so much more. The gravesite he hopes will be at Karsten Creek Golf Club, where the Cowboys won the national championship in May.
The full letter can be found at http://boonepickens.com/?p=2077