With his Oklahoma State Cowboys football team at 9-1, Boone Pickens is the second proudest booster in the land. The No. 1 spot belongs to Phil Knight, of course, whose Oregon Ducks are undefeated and are in position to play in the BCS National Championship Game.
Now for some background. In 2006, Pickens donated $165 million to Oklahoma State athletics. The oil tycoon managed that money to more than $400 million. But, when the economy started faltering, much of the gains were eroded. In October 2008, Oklahoma State cashed out the money Pickens gave them, which was now $125 million. Pickens made the athletic department whole on his donation and then some with a $63 million donation to Boone Pickens Stadium that October.
We caught up with Pickens as he was walking off the set of CNBC's "Squawk Box" today to talk about the business of college football.
Darren: Boone, your team is 9-1. How do you concentrate during the week?
Pickens: I'm fine. I love being at the games and then on Sunday I have my call with (Oklahoma State athletic director Mike) Holder.
Darren: You don't spend the week on message boards?
Darren: You go to every game?
Pickens: I won't make this weekend's game in Lawrence?
Darren: Taking it for granted? Looking past the Jayhawks?
Pickens: Come on. We're 23-point favorites. For god sakes, I hope we're not looking towards Oklahoma before we get past Kansas.
Darren: You know the spread. Do you bet?
Darren: You made your big donation six years ago. Did you think the football team would be where it was by now?
Pickens: I thought we'd get there, but I wouldn't have said six years. I thought we were going to get there last year and then we lost Dez (Bryant) and our QB (Zac Robinson) got hurt.
Darren: What do you think of the new Big 12 without Colorado and Nebraska? Pickens: You know, Nebraska was never happy. They always wanted to be in the Big Ten. I'm a guy who likes traditional loyalty. It wouldn't have made sense for many of us to play in the Pac-10.
Darren: What's your take on agent activity and the game?
Pickens: I think the schools need to do a better job at communicating with the student-athletes and policing the agents.