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One of BYU's most famous graduates apparently wasn't able to get one of the Big 12's most powerful boosters to endorse BYU for the Power Five conference's expected expansion.
Oklahoma State booster T. Boone Pickens, a billionaire, met with reporters before the Cowboys' season opener Saturday and acknowledged that he got a phone call about expansion from former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, a BYU graduate. However, Pickens said if he got his wish, the Big 12 would add Houston and Southern Methodist University, and not BYU.
"I got a call you won't believe this from Mitt Romney," Pickens said, as recorded in the Oklahoman. "I said, 'Mitt, you're calling me about politics?' He said, 'No, it's not about politics. It's about expansion of the Big 12. I want you to support BYU.' We had a nice visit. He understood I don't have any influence there."
Quizzed about SMU, which isn't seen as strong of a candidate as BYU, Pickens explained.
"Yeah, I would rather take a Texas team rather than BYU or Cincinnati. I would have been for Memphis, but they eliminated them with Temple. I saw that in the morning paper."
Pickens called himself "an Oklahoma guy living in Texas," but noted that he has lived in Dallas longer and has a granddaughter on the SMU equestrian team and a daughter who graduated from SMU.
"You know, SMU is a team that's going to have [good] football again," Pickens said. "They're going to be like TCU, which got serious, and SMU will do the same thing. BYU, you know what it costs to go out there? To send our teams to Provo? That's a long way. BYU is a great school, there's no question about that. But I'd rather have SMU than BYU."
In the first segment of ESPN's College GameDay program Saturday morning, host Rece Davis mentioned that the show has been around for 30 years, or "almost as long as Taysom Hill." The oft-injured Hill turned 26 on Aug. 23, having spent two years on an LDS Church mission in Australia and the last five seasons at BYU.
ESPN's Davis also called former BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall going to Virginia the "oddest hire" of the offseason, and Kirk Herbstreit mentioned that Mendenhall is "a West Coast guy."
Later, analyst Desmond Howard backpedaled a bit from his comments last week that BYU uses its missionary program to work the system, bringing up the fact that Hill is older because he served a two-year mission.
"At BYU, they have been getting away with this hustle for years," Howard said, discussing whether Hill playing this year is fair or foul. For the record, the average age of a BYU football player this year is 21.4.
Herbstreit wondered aloud, in a joking manner, whether new BYU coach Kalani Sitake, 40, is older than Hill.
Howard (and fellow host David Pollack) picked BYU to win, while Herbstreit and Lee Corso picked Arizona. Guest picker Aaron Rodgers also took BYU, citing a strong pregame speech by former Packer teammate Brady Poppinga, an ex-BYU player.