Mike Gundy, T. Boone Pickens, Oklahoma State: Bankrolling the Alamo Bowl?

Lake CruiseAnalyst IDecember 16, 2010

“Come after me! I’m a man, I’m 40!  Come after me!”

The man who uttered those memorable words in 2007 is 43 years old now. 

His team plays against the University of Arizona Wildcats in the Alamo Bowl on Dec. 29.  He hopes his defense successfully gets after the Wildcats. 

In building one of America’s budding college football programs, he’s experienced three years of rousing success. His team has improved each year under his helm. 

This season, he was named Big 12 Coach of the Year and a finalist for National Coach of the Year. 

Michael Ray Gundy is the face of both Oklahoma State University football and his “Come after me, I’m 40” reprimand. The famous quote occurred on the occasion of a press conference in 2007. He received accolades and cultural icon status after he, in defense of a player, heatedly criticized a newspaper article. 

He has been a leading candidate for Mr. Congenial Oklahoma every year since then. It’s an award given only to native Oklahomans.

He was born in Midwest City and grew up to be the starting quarterback at Midwest City High School. In 1986, he won Oklahoma Player of the Year. He signed with Oklahoma State, instead of Oklahoma, and became the Big Eight Conference’s all-time leading passer.

In Thurman Thomas and Barry Sanders, Gundy played with two Hall of Fame running backs at OSU. With him at quarterback, the Cowboys won bowl games in 1987-88. 

Gundy once held an NCAA record for most passes without an interception by a freshman in Division I-A (138). While he was coaching OSU against Baylor, Bears quarterback Robert Griffin II broke the record (2008).  

Gundy started coaching the wide receivers at Oklahoma State in 1990. He then coached OSU’s quarterbacks from 1991-93, before becoming the offensive coordinator from 1994-95. He left for Baylor and Maryland before returning as the Cowboys' offensive coordinator from 2001-04.

Gundy’s been OSU’s coach since 2005—the same year T. Boone Pickens II, 82, donated $165 million to OSU athletics. 

In 1951, Pickens graduated from Oklahoma A&M—the precursor to Oklahoma State University. A philanthropic billionaire and former corporate raider, he’s donated over $265 million to OSU athletics. He’s given over $400 million total to OSU in general. 

He must be proud of OSU in general, of the football program and of Mike Gundy—and vice versa. The School of Geology is also named after Pickens. 

In 2006-07, the football team improved to 7-6 from 4-7 the previous season. The progress came in the midst of controversy surrounding the school’s athletics village that T. Boone was bankrolling. 

Pickens’ and Gundy’s friendship grew stronger during the funding controversy. The football team stepped up during the controversy. 

T. Boone also bankrolled the reconstruction of the football team’s home field—Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Okla. The Cowboys rededicated the football stadium on Sept. 5, 2009. 

Pickens reportedly flies in for OSU games, on some September afternoons, from his house close to Dallas. Born in Holdenville, Oklahoma, he reportedly owns a Gulfstream V jet and a private airport in Pampa, Texas.

He’s seen a lot of wins on classic fall afternoons in Oklahoma—especially in the last three years. 

In 2007-8, the non-Texas Cowboys football team was 7-6. More importantly, they improved to 4-4 in the Big 12. They also won the Insight Bowl over the University of Indiana Hoosiers, 49-33. 

In 2008-9, they went 9-3, 5-3—their best season in 20 years. Gundy got a new deal. The OSU Board of Regents approved a $15.7 million contract for him. It took effect on January 1, 2009 and covers seven years.

According to OSU’s site, Gundy’s average yearly salary is $2.2 million. Surpassing basketball coach Travis Ford’s $1.3 million, he’s the highest-paid coach in Cowboys history.

“The OSU Board and administration are extremely pleased with the job coach Gundy has done in moving our program forward,” OSU President Burns Hargis said. It wasn’t a radical decision by the Board.

I believe the two bored radicals, Gundy and Pickens, have grown mellower and more determined in their lives. Both men have recently accomplished some of their best work. 

The Cowboys were 10-2, 6-2 this season and finished in a three-way tie for first in the Big 12 South.

They face Arizona in the 2010 Alamo Bowl in San Antonio. It seems like everything is going as planned for Oklahoma State University athletics—football in particular.

It’s a plan Pickens has probably thought out very thoroughly. He’s had several original ideals. 

There is another blueprint he’s advocating to the world.

The Pickens Plan promotes a radical reduction in dependency upon foreign energy—oil provided by OPEC. Pickens announced the proposal in 2008—the year Gundy led OSU to its best season ever before this season.

I can imagine Pickens at the podium: “Come after me! I’m a man, I’m 82!” 

OPEC could be coming after him, but there’s no need for Pickens to fret. I’m sure Gundy will make the necessary adjustments to aid the defense of one of his top backers.

The San Antonio economy doesn’t necessarily need any backers. The Alamo Bowl is not cashed strapped and neither Pickens, Gundy nor OSU condones bankrolling a bowl game. 

The Alamo Bowl is bankrolling both Arizona and OSU football for this game. The payout is $3,000,000 million or about half what Pickens pays per year in gas for his Gulfstream V.

They’re not bankrolling—just rolling.


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