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Introducing Big 12 Week: The State of the Conference Address

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Delivered by T. Boone Pickens, Sugar Daddy, Oklahoma State University
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Coaches, athletic directors, distinguished guests, and fellow contributors:

A dozen years ago, it was not so clear to most Americans there would be much to celebrate about the Big 12 by the year 2007. Then the Big Eight and especially the Southwest Conference was gripped by economic distress, social decline, gridlock in the standings. The amalgamation of those cultures was considered one-sided, divisive, too experimental, anathema to competition. The title of a no doubt bestselling book, if someone had been willing to write it, might have even asked: "Can the Big 12 South Survive?"

Obviously, thanks to my, uh, persuasive chats with prospective authors, that book was never published, and today the question seems ludicrous in retrospect. In the best traditions of those conferences' respective heritages, the Big 12 determined to set things right. We restored the vital center, replacing outmoded ideologies with a new vision anchored in basic, enduring values: opportunity for all, a measure of offensive firepower from all, a rapidly escalating financial arms race to maximize the profitability of all. We reinvented the duel-threat quarterback, transforming him via Brad Smith and Seneca Wallace from the one-dimensional, glorified tailback embodied by Scott Frost, Corby Jones, Ell Roberson and Eric Crouch into today's truly multi-talented threats, athletic passers such as Chase Daniel and Robby Reed. And of course, some guy you may have heard of named `Vince.' (Laughter, Applause) This breed of all-purpose scheme-buster is the catalyst for new ideas that stress both offensive innovation and defensive responsibility and give our less gifted players the tools they need to solve their own problems on the field.

The Big 12 has faced challenges. With the smallest population base of any of the BCS conferences, we have continued to set attendance records, expanded the footprint of athletic infrastructure and doubled our investment in comically large scoreboard screens. When past records threatened to be wiped from existence by unprecedented new levels of offensive production, we heard the cries of the people, and helped to cut scoring by more than three percent while increasing vital sponsorship revenue through our support of Rule 3-2-5e, which brought more commercials to the eyes of literally millions of captive viewers around the nation. (Applause) This progress has been unfortunately repealed, but we forge ahead with the sincere belief in our ability to one day win the hearts and minds of college football fans, or, if at all possible, to purchase them. (Applause)

We ended the option as we knew it, requiring balance and unpredictability to offset increasingly fast, aggressive defenses and investing more in passing quarterbacks, spread sets, and lithe receivers to help get the ball down the field. We've helped coaches and athletic departments to succeed at home and in the postseason by supporting BCS legislation that makes it easier to schedule opponents from Conference USA and the Sun Belt, and by making these credits count towards eligibility for expanded bowl tie-ins.

In 1996, we just had a roadmap. Today, we have results. (Applause)

Speaking of `boon': Missouri could have never dreamt of winning the Independence Bowl at 6-5 in the Big Eight.
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Even more important, the Big 12 again has the confidence to dream big dreams. But we must not let this confidence drift into complacency. For we, all of us, will be judged by the dreams, state-of-the-art facilities and minimum scholarship penalties we pass on to our children. And on that playing field, our conference will be held to a high standard, indeed, because our chance to do good is so great.

My fellow middle Americans, we have crossed the bridge we built to the 21st century. Now, we must shape a 21st century Big 12 revolution of opportunity, expansion, and maximum profitability. We must be now, as we were in the beginning, a new conference. A super conference. At the end of the last century, Tom Osborne said, "The one characteristic more essential than any other is speed . . . it should be the growing program with a future that takes the long look ahead past the most impressive forty times, and on to the shuttle as well." So tonight, let us take our long look ahead and set great goals for our conference.

To the 21st century Big 12, let us pledge these things: Every quarterback will begin school ready to redshirt and enter the lineup ready to have his face on marketing materials across the state. Every family no matter its race, color, creed or station will be able to purchase a season ticket package with the expectation of automatic renewal.* We will meet the challenges of our growing linemen. We will assure quality, affordable translators, at last, for all the bewildered players attempting to learn Bill Callahan's offense.(Scattered Applause)

We will make the Big 12 the most lucrative big conference in America. We will bring prosperity to every Big 12 community. We will reverse the course of partisanship that has undermined our progress and television ratings throughout the decade by producing a competitive North division champion for the first time since 2003. The Big 12 will lead the nation toward shared prosperity (although not shared revenues, of course; that would be like Communism, and better dead than red, as we say often in Stillwater) and expanding the far frontiers of athletic department powers into everyday life. Taxpayers cannot be allowed in good conscience to stand in the way of tax generators. The Supreme Court said that, and unlike a lot of those scoundrels' activist decisions, I believe it.

These are great goals, worthy of a great conference. We will not reach them all this year, not even in this decade. But we will reach them. Let us remember that the first Big 12 championship was not won with a single touchdown; Oklahoma was not rebuilt into dominant, cheating bastards in a single year. The lesson of our history and the lesson of the last eleven years is that great goals are reached step by step, coach by coach, blue chip by blue chip, always building on our progress, always gaining ground, always breaking ground, always raising ticket prices. Always striving for that second BCS team, until the day we become at last what our Founders pledged us to be so long ago: One conference, under the NCAA, indivisible, with cash flow and bowl games for all. Even Baylor.

Thank you, and God bless the Big 12 Conference. (standing Applause)

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*-Certain unadvertised fees may apply.