Slide Show: Pickens plan
BY DAVE SITTLER World Sports Columnist
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
8/18/09 at 12:19 PM
Go to Dave Sittler's Blog
STILLWATER — Boone Pickens already has a final score in mind for his favorite football team in its season opener: Oklahoma State 387, Georgia 24.
Like last season, when OSU ranked ninth in the country by averaging 40.7 points a game, the Cowboys are expected to again field one of the nation's high-scoring offenses in 2009.
But putting up 387 points in one game might be too stiff a challenge even for OSU's dynamic triplets — quarterback Zac Robinson, running back Kendall Hunter and wide receiver Dez Bryant.
Actually, some fact-checking reveals 393-35 is the precise score that Pickens prefers. That was the vote total when the House of Representatives passed H.R. 1622 last month, a bill that would aid the "Pickens Plan," which the OSU alum has been pushing as a way to reduce America's dependence on imported oil.
The outlandish score Pickens requested yesterday is understandable. He was feeling a little giddy after seeing the results of his original "Pickens Plan," a long-term strategy the billionaire funded in hopes of reducing OSU's chances of remaining one of college football's perennial doormats.
Pickens had returned to his alma mater for a walk-through inspection after completion of the final phase of a renovation to the stadium that bears his name because he provided the bulk of the $286 million spent on the project.
"It's overwhelming," said Pickens after touring the West End Zone project, which included everything from plush offices, locker rooms, dining hall and meeting rooms, to a state-of-the art weight room and medical center.
Now that Pickens has provided the millions needed to transform an eyesore into an eye-popping palace, he's tossed the football to coach Mike Gundy to carry out the rest of his plan.
Entering his fifth season at the school where he starred as a quarterback, Gundy has said his job performance shouldn't be judged until he had the facilities to compete in recruiting with other Big 12 Conference schools.
Gundy, whose Big 12 record has improved every year, now has the keys to all the bells and whistles that his predecessors only dreamed about as they fought to sign top talent despite inferior facilities.
"When a (prospective) recruit comes in here and sees what we have, they know we're serious," Pickens said. "You're not going to have these kinds of facilities and have a lackluster attitude about whether we're going to win or not."
So what does Pickens now expect out of Gundy? And when does he expect it? The 81-year-old Pickens, who enrolled at OSU 61 years ago this month, is aware his window of opportunity to watch the Pokes win titles is closing rapidly.
"We have to move fast, because I want to see it," Pickens said. "I don't want them plugging away and doing a good job and I (die) and five years later they've got a championship team. I want it as soon as we can get it."
Pickens has said the Cowboys have a shot at being 11-0 when they play their annual Bedlam battle at Oklahoma in the regular-season finale Nov. 28.
But he's also realistic. Pickens once thought OSU had an excellent shot at winning the Big 12's powerful South Division this season.
But he had to temper his enthusiasm when he learned the quarterbacks at OU and Texas decided to return for another year instead of turning pro. Sooner junior Sam Bradford won the 2008 Heisman Trophy, while Longhorns senior Colt McCoy was runner-up in the Heisman voting.
"With those two guys (coming back), I'm not going to say we're going to win," Pickens said of the OU and Texas games. "I'm going to drop back and say we're going to be competitive."
When Pickens ignited the massive renovation project with a $165 million donation in December 2005, he said his initial goal was for OSU to field a competitive team. But championships replaced competitiveness as he watched his millions at work, morphing the rusted-out stadium into a first-class structure.
At Monday's press conference, Pickens said he still supports the prediction a sports columnist made earlier this summer that the Cowboys could be 11-0 when they play the bitter-rival Sooners.
"I know I stuck my neck out in that Tulsa World column when I said we're going to be 11-0," Pickens said. "And I still believe that's what we're going to be, but it's going to be tough getting there.
"We have to beat Georgia first if we're going to be 11-0, so I think we're going to win that game."
And instead of 387 or 393 points, Pickens would happily settle for a 38-24 or 39-35 win over the Bulldogs. Either score would be the perfect kickoff of a new era, where the original "Pickens Plan" generates an exciting Cowboy energy that reaches unprecedented heights.
Here is an explanation of the buttons on the player above.
Play slide show with sound
Next image / play slide show without sound
Expand the slide show to full screen
To see each slide
To see all of the Tulsa World slide shows, go to tulsaworld.com/photos.
Rob Glass shows Boone Pickens a strength machine at the new Oklahoma State strength and conditioning facility in Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater on Monday. Stephen Pingry / Tulsa World
OSU athletes can work out at the new strength and conditioning facility in the Boone Pickens Stadium. Stephen Pingry / Tulsa World