July 21, 2009
Master capitalist, energy baron, wind aficionado, John Kerry foil par excellence and deep-pocketed Oklahoma State superalum T. Boone Pickens lives at the vanguard of many fields, not least among them the art of turning a dillapidated football program into a modern contender. Anything involving T. Boone is a must-read on spec, but his latest coversation with the Sporting News is a trove of quality advice for fellow gridiron philanthroscenti, delievered with the typically casual Boone bravado:
Q: Is it really as easy as writing a check and sitting back and watching everything grow into what could be?
A: I think anyone can do what I've done for our program. You just have to show up with a lot of money, and you have to be there when they need you. I don't criticize the program; I don't try to run anything. I'm not a coach. There are people much smarter than I doing those jobs.
Q: What's the best advice you have been given about your support of the program?
A: I saw Urban Meyer at the Kentucky Derby, and I asked him, "What can I do more than I've done?" He said, "Do you go to every game? Go to every game and make sure the team knows you're there. That's one of the biggest boosts for a team—that you're there on the spot and you're supporting them." I said then that I'll never miss another game.
While "I think anyone can do what I've done for our program" might be a bit of a stretch for aspiring boosters who don't have a half-billion dollars to drop on a state-of-the-art facility that bears their name, charitable partisans everywhere would do well to follow Pickens' relatively hands-off example. (Are you listening, cuckolded North Texas donors?) There's an argument for vocally inserting oneself into operations where large amounts of one's own money are in play, but we like the cut of T. Boone's jib on the issue: Giving your people the resources they need and getting out of the way ought to be the order of things. If you, a hypothetical high-profile donor, distrust your coaching staff that much with the team on the field, what are you doing allowing them to play with that much of your money to begin with? (No, we're not referring to anyone in particular.)