College Confidential

Rating the top celebrity endorsements in Big 12 expansion race

Ohio State coach Urban Meyer, a former Cincinnati player, supports the Bearcats’ potential move to the Big 12 even if that adds another Power 5 recruiting rival for in-state talent to contend with in future seasons.
Ohio State coach Urban Meyer, a former Cincinnati player, supports the Bearcats’ potential move to the Big 12 even if that adds another Power 5 recruiting rival for in-state talent to contend with in future seasons. AP

As Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby prepares to arrange video conferences with administrators from 18 interested schools (today’s updated total) regarding league expansion, it is clear that the finish line to this process is nowhere in sight.

That leaves time for more celebrity endorsements of Big 12 candidates, which has been one of the more entertaining offshoots of the league’s decision to acknowledge interest in adding two or four teams to the conference’s 10-team configuration, perhaps in time for the 2017 football season. That announcement has triggered lots of feedback since the Big 12 went public with its expansion exploration plans on July 19.

In the spirit of the Olympic Games, we rank the medal-winning endorsements that have surfaced between July 19 and today. In the gold medal spot on the podium, make room for:

Cincinnati, touted by Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer. The Bearcats received a public thumbs-up from the Buckeyes’ coach, a Cincinnati graduate and former Bearcats’ defensive back, during Sunday’s media day session in Columbus, Ohio. Meyer made it clear that his endorsement was made primarily “as a fan” but he acknowledged that he supported UC’s move to the Big 12 even though it would add another Power 5 football program to recruit against for in-state recruits in Ohio.

“I think they should be in the Big 12,” Meyer told ESPN.com. “I couldn’t be happier for that city and for that school if they do get in the Big 12.”

Considering that Meyer offers his support despite knowing a Cinch-to-the-Big-12 move could cost him a future prospect puts this endorsement in the gold-medal position. Next up:

Memphis, touted by singer/entertainer Justin Timberlake. A Memphis native, Timberlake extolled the merits of the Tigers’ candidacy last month when he posted this message to his 56.2 million followers on his Twitter account (@jtimberlake): “Memphis to the @Big12 Conference … let’s make this happen!” In terms of public endorsements, it’s hard to overlook one from an individual with more than 56 million followers on his Twitter account. And in the bronze-medal position:

Houston, touted by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. Abbott weighed in last month on his Twitter account (@GregAbbott_TX) with a tweet calling Big 12 expansion “a non-starter unless it includes” the University of Houston. Other politicians from states with candidates in the expansion pool have followed Abbott’s lead, which is hardly surprising because this is an election year. But the bronze goes to Abbott for starting the political feedback rolling.

Jimmy Burch: 817-390-7760, @Jimmy_Burch

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