The System: The Glory and Scandal of Big-Time College Football, co-written by Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyian has been released, giving readers a detailed look at the good — and bad — inside major college football.
Chapter 11, titled “The Booster,” is centered around Boone Pickens and his impact on Oklahoma State’s rise to national prominence.
Some thoughts on the chapter:
*Quotable: “Rivals like to joke that Oregon and Oklahoma State have the only college football teams with an owner.” The System reserves the “Turbo Boosters” category for only Pickens and Nike chairman Phil Knight, who has helped Oregon become a national power.
*The chapter then transitions into the story of how Mike Holder became OSU’s athletic director, and how he convinced Pickens to make his gigantic donation. Most of us already know this backstory, but I’m sure it would be quite interesting to other fans around the country who don’t follow OSU as closely.
*Next, Pickens is shadowed for last season’s Texas game. These types of “day in the life” stories always fascinate me, and this was no different.
*A game day with Pickens is described as “a weekend excursion filled with exquisite food, fine wine, great companionship and resort-like accommodations.” That totally links up with all of our college football experiences, right? Pickens’ guests for the Texas game: the former mayor of Dallas and his wife, a retired CEO and his wife, and old classmate and his wife.
*There’s a neat picture painted of Pickens on the field during pregame. He went up into the student section to shake hands. He greeted the ROTC members. And as he walked back toward the tunnel, a man on the other side of a chain-link fence said the following: “Mr. Pickens, I just wanna thank you, for what you’ve done for this community, for your generosity. This is a magnificent stadium. You have given us something to cheer for. You’ve brought us together. We thank you.” Poignant stuff.
*Thought this was strange: Texas players like David Ash and Jaxon Shipley were named, but OSU players like Joseph Randle and J.W. Walsh were just referred to as “OSU’s running back” and “OSU’s quarterback.” I mean, I know Texas is the bigger national brand, but the whole reason this chapter was written because OSU had reached a certain status, as well.
*Pickens didn’t see Texas’ (controversial) game-winning touchdown, as he left the game as the Longhorns were driving down the field. “It was time to roll. OSU still had the lead. But Boone was a betting man, and he didn’t like OSU’s hand.”
*Pickens’ final quote: “Wherever you are and whatever you are doing, you are making a record. I’ve always been sensitive to my record. I want people to see me as a hardworking guy and that I am a serious person whatever I’m doing. At the same time, I have a lot of fun doing it.”
Overall, the book is excellent. It examines several prospects and multiple characters that make those programs run. I read about half of it on our trip to Morgantown. I’ve been hesitant to pick it up much since then, because I know whenever I do I won’t get anything else done. Absolutely recommend it.
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