Back in 2007, prior to the University of Georgia game with Oklahoma State in Athens, I sat with the media and gave my perspective on all things OSU football. I’ve carried that tradition forward annually, putting my thoughts in a letter in recent years as health issues have gotten the better of me. It’s a tradition I hope to continue as long as I can.
“As long as I can…” That’s a sobering notion, more, I suspect, for me than for you. I’m a lifelong geologist, and, as a whole, we’re a pretty optimistic bunch. I love to tell the story – over and over – about the geologist who fell off a 10-story building and, whizzing past the fifth floor, hollered, “I’m not dead yet.” At 91, I’m grateful for every added day, week, month and year.
However, I’m realistic about being close to the finish line. And I’m working diligently to complete projects as quickly as I can and tie up any loose ends.
One example is cutting the ribbon on my childhood home that we recently relocated from my Mesa Vista Ranch in the Texas Panhandle to Karsten Creek. Landscaping will begin there soon and we will be moving period-appropriate and personal furnishings in next month.
We have been archiving a whole host of material from my 70-year career in the oil and gas industry and will be donating those mementos to Oklahoma State. In the coming months we will announce how that information will be displayed to, hopefully, inspire future generations to achieve what a Depression-era kid like myself was able to accomplish.
And I’m excited about another upcoming announcement that involves a 22-foot conference table that has been the center of my office for 15 years. It is where we have hosted dozens of business and political leaders as well as elite athletes. It’s also where we’ve made…and, sadly lost…billions of dollars. We auctioned that table a few weeks ago and the tale of where it will land is incredible.
I have a lot of work left to do and not a lot of time to get it done. That’s not a morbid notion, it’s reality. And accepting reality at my age invariably leads to reflection.
Last year, at 90 years of age, I vowed to make every Oklahoma State football home game. I made half of them, but watched all of them. That’s likely to be the case again this year and each trip to Stillwater will be all the more meaningful for me. Five years ago, as grand marshal of OSU’s homecoming, I knocked out pushups on the ROTC’s pushup board. Now walking 50 yards to my suite is a challenge. And when I do it, I feel just as triumphant.
Spoiler alert: When you hit your 90s, two things happen. First, your memory isn’t as good as it once was. Second, the memories you do have you tend to cherish more. One of my greatest memories came 10 years ago, on September 5, 2009, when Oklahoma State University officially dedicated the fully renovated stadium now named in my honor.
A lot has happened since that dedication, and I’d like to think my support has played a part in it all.
- OSU has had 94 wins since the 2009 season, the second-most in the Big 12 and the 12th most in the nation during that time span
- Since 2009, OSU had six seasons with at least 10 wins. The Cowboys reached the Top 10 of the AP Poll in 2009, ‘10, ‘11, ‘13, ‘15, ‘16 and ‘17.
- OSU has been to four what are now known as “New Year’s Six” bowl games since 2009 (two Cotton Bowls, the Fiesta Bowl and the Sugar Bowl).
- OSU has averaged 9.4 wins per season since 2009.
- OSU has a 59-29 record (.670) against Big 12 opponents since 2009, the second-best record in the conference.
- Since 2009, OSU has averaged more than 40 points and nearly 500 yards of total offense per game.
- In 2010, OSU was a Big 12 South co-champion and OSU won the Big 12 championship in 2011.
- In 2011, OSU finished a program-best third in the final Associated Press football poll of the season.
But I’m in it to win it. My first goal for 2019 is to win a Big 12 football championship…again. Then to make the final four playoffs. Fingers crossed Mike Gundy can make that happen this year. The window is closing for me.
I’m heavily invested in Oklahoma State. Sometimes I forget what all I’ve given over the years. In the spirit of tying up loose ends, and setting the record straight, I called OSU the other day to get a total giving number. The total now stands at $652 million, a number boosted by a series of unpublicized gifts over the past 10 years. I have a unique approach to giving. While many others of my status endow foundations that spin out millions of dollars over the course of generations, I want to see the good that’s done with my money today, while I’m alive, and not wonder what is done with it long after I’m gone. OSU’s athletic director, Mike Holder, has been a good steward of my funds on the athletic side of the ledger, as has OSU President Burns Hargis been on the academic side.
Unquestionably, $652 million is a lot, and there are no doubt critics out there who would champion it going for broader, societal issues. I’m satisfied with my giving. I don’t want a bigger suite or a better parking spot. Or yet another honorary degree. I want championships across the board. I hope you understand why, and I hope we get them while I can still savor the victories.