T. Boone Pickens’ alma mater finally has its national football championship.
It just didn’t come the way the oil tycoon expected. The American Football Coaches Association has named Oklahoma State its 1945 national champion.
The AFCA, which made the announcement Thursday, said several schools requested that it establish a group of coaches to select winners from 1922, when the association was founded, to 1949, the year before its coaches’ poll was first published. Oklahoma State is the first school to be retroactively named national champion. Pickens, a 1951 graduate who has donated more than $500 million to the school and whose name is on the football stadium, was thrilled to hear the news.
“I was a big fan of that team,” Pickens said in a statement. “They had some real heroes on it. Those were great years for our athletic teams, including basketball and wrestling. I’m glad the football team is finally getting the recognition they earned on the field.”
Army was The Associated Press national champion in 1945. Oklahoma A&M, as Oklahoma State was called as back then, finished No. 5 in the final AP poll that year. Coach Jim Lookabaugh’s Aggies won all nine of their games, by an average of 23.2 points.
“After gathering all the pertinent information and doing our due diligence, it is the pleasure of our Blue Ribbon Commission of coaches to officially recognize Oklahoma State’s 1945 championship season with the AFCA Coaches’ Trophy,” AFCA executive director Todd Berry said in a statement.
The program’s Bob Fenimore was a consensus All-American who led the nation in rushing and total offense, and Neill Armstrong was an AP All-American. The roster included seven World War II veterans. The team capped its perfect season by defeating St. Mary’s 33-13 in the Sugar Bowl.
“We may have been the best team in the country that year,” Armstrong told the AFCA last year. “We had a couple of All-Americans and a group of veterans who kept us in check. In practice, we scrimmaged every day. As hard as those scrimmages were, it’s a wonder that we had anything left for the games, but those scrimmages toughened us and made us better. We had a lot of older guys who had fought in the war and understood that you don’t win anything unless you do it as a team.”
Oklahoma’s 1950 squad had been the AFCA’s first champion.
Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter @CliffBruntAP .