T. Boone Pickens, the benefactor who helped Oklahoma’s chief in-state rival Oklahoma State rise to prominence with millions in athletic donations, died Wednesday. He was 91.
Pickens, an oil and gas mogul, donated $165 million dollars to OSU athletics in 2008. The Cowboys won a Big 12 championship in 2011.
Pickens deeply desired more OSU victories against the Sooners. In 2014, he told a group of reporters in Arlington, Texas: “The only [team] we haven’t been competitive with is OU. Like last year, we’re a 10-point favorite and lose … We need to do better on OU.”
In 2016, Pickens said: “We’re the only team that has beaten Texas four in a row in Austin. If we can beat Texas, we sure ought to beat OU.”
Like any rivalry, there were soft spots. Pickens and former OU coach Barry Switzer were known to be friends.
Pickens told the Dallas Morning News in 2011 that he and Switzer exchanged emails, in which Switzer wrote OSU shouldn’t beat Texas “as bad as the Sooners did because we want to keep Mack Brown as coach — we want somebody that both of us can beat.”
According to the Tulsa World’s Bill Haisten, former Switzer issued a video for Pickens’ 90th birthday party last year.
“I want to wish you a happy 90th birthday,” Switzer said. “I know it’s a big day for you, and I want to be a part of it. I have always said I wish you had been a Sooner. We have a geology school. It’s a little closer than going on to Stillwater another 80 miles.
“I know they named a stadium after you up there, but just think about it. If you had been a Sooner, you would have had the greatest rushing team in college football named after you: the wishBoone. How about that? Instead of the wishbone, it would have been the wishBoone. Happy birthday, big boy. Have a good one. Take care.”
OU athletic director Joe Castiglione issued a statement on Twitter about Pickens' death.
"Saddened to hear the news Mr Pickens has taken the last ride on his amazing journey," Castiglione stated. "Our thoughts/prayers are with his immediate family & extended @OSUAthletics family. Always fascinating to be in his presence & learned something new every time I had a conversation with him. RIP."