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Pickens says Oklahoma State should stay in Big 12

Wednesday, May 12, 2010 | 8:22 p.m. CDT
T. Boone Pickens gestures as he answers a question during a news conference Wednesday in Oklahoma City. Pickens commented on the Big Ten's expansion desire by saying Oklahoma State should remain in the Big 12 Conference.

OKLAHOMA CITY — Prominent Oklahoma State booster T. Boone Pickens believes his alma mater should stay put in the Big 12.

Speaking at the state Capitol in Oklahoma City, Pickens said Wednesday that he doesn't think Oklahoma State should move to another conference "before you're required to make that decision."

The Big Ten is considering adding to its current 11 members to bring in additional television revenue and add a conference championship game. Commissioner Jim Delany this week sent an e-mail to Big Ten athletic directors to stamp out a rumor that the conference had offered spots to four schools, including Missouri and Nebraska of the Big 12.

"We could sit around and take two and move them there and then take four and move them southeast and four to the west. You know what I mean? But we're just wasting time," Pickens said. "Let's see.

"I'm going to be in the Big 12 until somebody tells me we're going."

Pickens has donated hundreds of millions of dollars to fund new facilities at Oklahoma State, primarily a renovated football stadium that bears his name.

"Back there, I could see if we did not get into a serious football program that we were going to be left at the post," said Pickens, who was named to the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame national board of directors earlier this year.

"I could see those that were struggling and I didn't want to be one of those."

The Cowboys spent most of their time near the bottom of the Big Eight and then the Big 12 after the heyday years in the 1980s when Heisman Trophy winner Barry Sanders, Thurman Thomas and Hart Lee Dykes were all on the team. Les Miles, who now coaches at LSU, started the turnaround with upsets of rival Oklahoma in 2001 and 2002 and Pickens continued the momentum with a series of enormous donations that led to $286 million in upgrades to the stadium.

In their first year since the stadium upgrade was completed, the Cowboys claimed sole possession of second place in the Big 12 South last season — their highest finish since the league was formed in 1996.

Pickens believes that has put OSU in a more favorable position as college football enters what could become a defining period.

"I think we're attractive," he said.

 


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