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OSU megabooster Boone Pickens riding as high as his Cowboys are ranked

JENNI CARLSON COMMENTARY — Boone Pickens gift of nearly $300 million to the Oklahoma State athletic department wasn't about building a great stadium. He gave the money because he wanted a great team — something he is now seeing in the No. 3 Cowboys.
by Jenni Carlson Modified: October 26, 2011 at 7:43 pm •  Published: October 26, 2011

The stock market bounces around like the whims of an Occupy Wall Street protest. The economy threatens recession. The forecast looks gloomy.

And yet, investor extraordinaire Boone Pickens is smiling these days.

Credit his favorite venture — Oklahoma State football.

On a day when the Cowboy megabooster returned to his home state and spoke at the Jim Thorpe Association's October Leadership Luncheon, he was in high spirits. He told stories on athletic director Mike Holder. He poked fun at friends in the Lone Star State. He had fun.

And why not?

His Cowboys are a hot commodity.

“I'm not going to get out on a limb here and say what we're gonna do,” he said. “We're gonna play hard, and, of course, we want to win.

“I think we've got a good football team.”

A good team?

The Cowboys are No. 3 in the BCS rankings, heights never before seen in the program. They have gone to Texas A&M and won after being behind by 17 points. They have gone to Texas and beat the Longhorns on home soil in back-to-back years, something OSU had never done. They have established themselves as a team that controls its own national-championship destiny.

“All that's great,” Pickens admitted, “but we still got … games to play. And there's not as easy one in there.”

Leave it to one of the most successful businessmen in America to refuse to count this season's dividends until the schedule is played out.

Still, the direction that this season is headed is what Pickens envisioned six years ago when he made his unprecedented nine-figure gift to Cowboy football. At the same time, it goes beyond his wildest dreams.

Pickens, after all, just wanted to make the Cowboys competitive.

But then years ago, he told Mike Gundy to forget the competitive stuff. He wanted to win. Conference titles. BCS bowls. Maybe even a national title.

Pickens and Holder crossed their fingers that it might happen in the octogenarian's lifetime.

Now with the most difficult portion of their season behind them, the Cowboys find themselves in control of their national championship dreams. Win out, and they'll play for a title.

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by Jenni Carlson
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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