Dick Harmon: BYU-Notre Dame disrespect: T. Boone Pickens has to know Provo

Published: Monday, Sept. 5 2011 7:55 p.m. MDT

PROVO — This place isn't New York or Paris, but T. Boone Pickens, you should know where Provo is.

Pickens is the energy/oil tycoon billionaire who is a booster for Oklahoma State and Saturday when his Cowboys opened their football season, he became a quote machine in the debate over whether the Big 12 will expand or implode.

Pickens told reporters that TCU (which just happens to sit on one of the largest natural gas reserves in Texas), would be the most logical addition to the Big 12. He then dissed Notre Dame and BYU.

Said Pickens: "Notre Dame already has a network and they're damaged merchandise, as far as I'm concerned," said Pickens. "I don't want Notre Dame. And BYU? Who in the hell knows where Provo, Utah, is?"

Ah, face it. It was a little funny.

Pickens may not know Provo for its funeral potatoes or Jell-O consumption, or roads overtaken by minivans — the Mormon assault vehicle — but T. Boone, come on buddy.

You flew over Provo when you came to Salt Lake City for one of your townhouse meetings in the Salt Palace almost three years ago. It's that city with a population more than twice that of Stillwater.

You gotta be old enough to know Donnie and Marie live here, Robert Redford finds it the nearest spot from his home in Sundance to fix his car and if you watch TV, you can thank inventor Philo T. Farnsworth, who is buried in the Provo Cemetery.

This is the birthplace of multi-level marketing companies galore with international giants NuSkin and Tahitian Noni nested in Provo. If any of your secretaries or accountants ever used word-processing software in the '90s, chances are it was WordPerfect, created in Provo, as was the company that bought it out, Novell, an early world leader in networking.

Mr. Pickens, I know you admire more than hedge funds, rocks that leak oil and holes in the ground that spit that black gold. So, you may have tuned in and watched "Dancing with the Stars" and appreciated the lovely Julianne Hough, who is from Provo.

World Champion Pittsburgh Steeler defensive lineman Brett Keisel was born here and Cy Young Award winner Vernon Law lives in a condo on Grandview Hill. Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, a rich guy like you, was student body president at the university here. Sure you've met him in the circles you frequent.

Then, there's that school, BYU; the one famous coach Urban Meyer and current ESPN analyst found the need to call "The Team Down South."

BYU's not a little school. It's got some buildings and other stuff.

Its student body enrollment on campus is about 10,000 more than that of Oklahoma State's.

LaVell Edwards Stadium seats about 5,000 more than T. Boone Pickens Stadium. In case you missed it, the guy BYU's place is named after won a national championship 27 years ago, one more than Oklahoma State.

Ty Detmer's 1990 Heisman Trophy ties OSU's Barry Sanders (1988), so both schools stand at 1-1 with that piece of hardware. The Detmer kid is part of seven winners of the Sammy Baugh Trophy and four Davey O'Brien awards.

Since BYU played in its first bowl in 1974 (Fiesta) against your Oklahoma State Cowboys, the Cougars have been to 29 bowls; OSU's has attended just 18.

For each research dollar, BYU is consistently the nation's top producer of patents, licensing revenues and start-up companies. Certainly BYU does not get as much research money as its neighbor, the University of Utah, which rivals MIT, but BYU does create about half the companies with one-tenth the research funding.

I know you were at OSU's opening game in the stadium in Stillwater Saturday and the Cowboys beat Louisiana-Lafayette 61-34. But, T. Boone, I can't find where that was on TV anywhere.

OSU's game Thursday will be on ESPN, as will the Iowa State game Nov. 18 and the game against rival Oklahoma will be on ABC Dec. 3. But your beloved Cowboys play eight games that have yet to be plugged in for any significant TV coverage at all. Nada. What's up with that?

BYU, I believe, will be on ESPN channels 10 times this season, the most recent, a win over the SEC's Mississippi last Saturday. If you turn on your satellite dish, you'll see every BYU football game rebroadcast in BYUtv, a feature available coast-to-coast. A feature no other college team I know of has.

I dunno, Mr. Pickens. I love your commercials about solving the energy crisis and I know you've made a ton of money so you must be smart. But, "Where in the hell is Provo?"

Notre Dame damaged merchandise?

Really?

For the record, Provo is located at 40 degrees 14 minutes seven seconds north latitude and 111 degrees 39 minutes 31 seconds west longitude.

You should drop in sometime.

Dodge some minivans, have some ice cream. You might run into Jimmer. You gotta know Jimmer, Mr. Pickens.

And the funeral potatoes aren't all that bad either.

email: dharmon@desnews.com

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