Despite the recent rumblings, Oklahoma State University is a proud member of the Big 12 Conference, according to OSU director of football operations Mack Butler.
“We are proud of where we are - we want to continue," Butler said during Wednesday’s meeting of the Golden Norse Football Booster Club.
Butler was a member of Glen Wolfe’s staff when Northeastern A&M won the 1986 national championship.
"Coach Gundy (OSU head coach Mike Gundy) is a very strong believer that there needs to be a midwest area conference,” Butler said. "We will go wherever we need to go, but we need to have the center of the United States represented. Our hope is that it will continue. We can still make it a north-south concept, maybe split the Texas schools and BYU (one of several schools reportedly being wooed by the conference) and then the Oklahoma schools, Kansas schools and Iowa State."
Just when it looked like the dust was settling, reports popped up that Missouri would join Texas A&M in the Southeastern Conference.
"Let me tell you, they need to stay in the Big 12," said Butler. "There are some of those people in the SEC, they are not very nice. They need to stay here with us."
Butler should know about the SEC: he was assistant director of football operations at LSU for four years for Les Miles, who made the move from Oklahoma State to Baton Rouge in 2005.
Butler returned to Oklahoma State in 2009 as director of football operations. Dale Patterson, was the Cowboys’ assistant director of football operations until being named NEO’s interim head coach in August.
Butler said if OSU football benefactor T. Boone Pickens had his way, TCU would be extended an invitation to join the Big 12 – despite casting its fate to the Big East.
"TCU has kinda played their cards towards the east coast," Butler said. "I can’t speak for them, but I think there would be some regrets. That is not an easy trip."
A move to the Pac-12 really wouldn’t be a prudent move for Oklahoma State, Butler said.
"People have to look at the great big picture," he said. "There are some people that have said they are going to take their ball and leave, but it can’t be that way. There is a really great football tradition in the midwest and the southwest and we need to keep that intact. We can bring some things to the table that the coast can’t."
Budgets would have to be increased to accommodate trips to the west coast.
He said a charter plane for a three-hour trip is $100,000.
"If you tack on another hour and a half, that plane goes to $150,000," Butler said. "If they stay in Texas, it would be a couple of bus trips. I think it’s a good fit."
Something else that hasn’t been discussed: student-athletes would miss more classtime.
"They talk about education, but the athletes would have to leave earlier on Friday," Butler said. "There would be more missed class time. No doubt there is a strong feeling and sentiment, certainly from within our walls, to keep a midwest BCS conference going."
In addition to BYU and TCU, SMU and Houston have also been discussed as possible additions to the Big 12.
Butler was secondary coach and recruiting coordinator at NEO from 1986 to 1988. During that time, he coached four all-Americans, including Ben Smith, who was a first-round pick of the Philadelphia Eagles in 1990.
"That 1986 championship ring means so much to me," Butler said. "Coming up that turnpike and making that turn, then seeing the new facility (the Ivan Crossland Sr. Football Complex) and the stadium brings back lots of memories."
He spent 12 years at the University of Tulsa for 11 seasons, then was named the Golden Hurricane director of football operations.
Butler first served in that capacity at OSU from 2001-04, when he made the move to LSU with Miles.
A native of Fairfax, Butler coached at Stigler, McAlester and Wilburton before being hired by Wolfe.
Ironically, Butler was a coach for the East in the 1985 Oklahoma Coaches Association all-state football game while Gundy was a player on the West.
Butler and Patterson first worked together on Wolfe’s staff, then were reunited at Stillwater.
"What a great opportunity for NEO to have Coach P back," Butler said. "He truly believes in this place. The success NEO has had is going to happen again because of him.
"Not two or three days don’t go by that Coach Gundy doesn’t refer to ‘now Coach Patterson always did this’ or ‘Coach Patterson did that.’ He is missed. Obviously, it is NEO’s gain and Oklahoma State’s loss."
Butler was able to make the trip to Miami because the Cowboys, coming off a thrilling 30-29 come-from-behind win at Texas A&M, are idle this weekend.
"If you are a Cowboy fan - or not even a Cowboy fan - a person needs to be proud of the leadership, teamwork, dedication of the young people involved with that program showed in that game," Butler said.