GLENDALE, Ariz. — Boone Pickens is now reaping the benefits of his record donation to Oklahoma State football after the Cowboys captured their first outright conference championship and a trip to Monday night's Fiesta Bowl.
Pickens talked to reporters in the press box of University of Phoenix Stadium before the Cowboys' showdown with Stanford about this season, the future of OSU football and coach Mike Gundy's contract negotiations.
How does it feel to be in a BCS bowl?
“Big deal. Only time we've ever been here. We played Indiana (in the Insight Bowl in 2007), and I said, ‘This wasn't the bowl I was thinking about,' and somebody said, ‘You shouldn't of said that.' But this is the one I was hoping for, of course, so big deal for us.”
What's it like to see so much orange in the stands?
“No question, we travel well. Somebody said, ‘Well, you haven't been many places, so everybody wants to go.' And some of that's true. We stick together.
What does this season do for the future of the football program?
“I have to believe it's all good. I don't see anything that can be bad that comes from it. We've been well-coached, we've got a good team, we've got some good players and we had a hell of a quarterback walk on. I don't know whether we can ever count on a Brandon Weeden walking on again. I'll be excited about next year to see what we have. I'm going to miss Brandon, I'll tell you that.”
Does it feel like the rise of the program happened fast?
“It actually happened faster than I thought. Somebody said ‘When did you think (this would happen)?' I said, ‘I thought it was going to be two years from now.' So it's two years faster than I thought it would happen. What is that? That's somebody did some good planning and did some good coaching and, again, we had some good players.”
Do you have an update on Mike Gundy's contract negotiations?
“If I told you I don't know what's going on, you know I'm lying to you. I think that all got put on the shelf until we get through this game, and I think it should have. You can't focus on several things at one time. I can, but I'm not the negotiator, and I'm not the coach, either.”
Do you have any concern that it won't get done?
Oh, no. I haven't focused on it, either, but I don't know why it wouldn't be done.
Does one call from you get a deal done?
“No. I'm not calling shots in Stillwater, and that's a true story. I don't have time to do that. You were talking about my record. I worry about my record all the time, and I didn't have a good year in '11. I've got a full-time job, so I'm not calling Stillwater saying, ‘Get something done' or not done or something else. You can believe me or not, but that's a true story. I don't want to get in the way, and I'm not in the way. We'll see. We're going to know soon enough.”
Do you know (Stanford donor) John Arrillaga?
“No I don't. I think we may have caused people to say that it's great to give. If you're going to have a program that's going to compete, you're going to have to invest in it. You see more and more of them, (Oregon donor) Phil Knight, but you can go across the country. I was up there in Ames, Iowa. Those guys up there in the trucking business, they're helping out at Ames. It's great. College football, there's nothing like it. Pro football, it's good. It's like my dad used to say about hunting bobwhites and blues. He said, ‘If you can't get the bobwhites, you have to shoot the blues.' It's not as good of sporting. Pro football's got a long way to go to catch up with college football. I really believe that. But I sit there and watch pro football just like I watch college football. But you know what I mean, there's nothing like college football. It's all America.”
Is there anything more you can do for facilities, or are you ‘there?'
“I hope we're there. We've got the facilities. We should be competitive. It's like I told Mike Gundy and his crowd. I said, ‘Listen, fellas. I can't do anything more for you. You're as good as the best now. We've got the best training table, we've got the best weight room, we've got everything, so it's up to you.' And the guys came through.”
Is there any disappointment that OSU is not playing in the national championship game?
“I told (the team), ‘For God sakes, we didn't get it. Don't whine about it.' That's the last thing you want to do. We're in a big bowl. That's good enough. I'm disappointed we didn't get to play in it, but we'll get our chance.”