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Three Takeaways: Comparing Twitter Followers, Revenue and Wins in the Big 12

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As the excitement surrounding Mike Holder’s recruiting comments from this summer came to a close, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at the success of programs in the Big 12 (in the win column) in comparison to their Twitter popularity, revenue and recruiting ranking. None of these necessarily has to do with the other, but all the data are there, and I found it all intriguing.

I ranked each program in the Big 12 by the number of Twitter followers they have on their football accounts (more on this in the days ahead). That ranking is then compared to each program’s revenue, average recruiting rank from 2017-19, and number of wins over the past three years.

Going into the research, I expected Oklahoma State to be third or fourth in every area, but found that the #Pokes Twitter is a little lower than I thought it might be (obviously I didn’t take into account OSU across all social platforms like Facebook and Instagram).

Team Twitter Revenue Avg. Recruit Rank Wins (2015-17)
OU 522K 155 Million 6.7 34
Texas 201K 215 Million 12.7 17
WVU 195K 111 Million 53.7 25
TCU 169K n/a 26.3 28
Baylor 134K n/a 37.7 18
OSU 130K 92 Million 37 30
ISU 97.4K 83 Million 44 14
K-State 74.3K 86 Million 70.7 23
T-Tech 64.6K 89 Million 54.7 18
Kansas 48.6K 95 Million 80.3 3

Here are three takeaways from the data.

1. Outperforming Pokes

Oklahoma State is in the bottom half of the league in Twitter followers, at 130K. I was surprised to see such a large gap between both West Virginia and OSU and between TCU and OSU. Even though it’s a small margin, it also is interesting to see the Baylor football account have a larger following than the CowboyFB account.

In terms of revenue, OSU is at best right around fifth in the league — probably lower if we accounted for the revenues of TCU and Baylor. However, despite finding itself in the bottom half of the league in “popularity” and revenue, OSU still places fourth in recruiting over the last three years and more importantly, second in wins. That’s pretty impressive.

2. West Virginia Fans though

I thought it was interesting to see that West Virginia was the outlier. The Twitter following in Morgantown makes sense given the intense reputation that the WVU football fans have garnered. The Mountaineer football account has 65K more followers than the Cowboys’ account. However, the Mountaineers are a lowly seventh in recruiting over the last three years, and have won five fewer games than Oklahoma State over that three-year stint.

3. Texas is back? Not so fast

The statistics for Texas shouldn’t surprise anyone: An unreal amount of revenue, a strong following, consistent highly-ranked recruiting classes … and minimal success in the win column. While many think this is the year that the worm will turn for the ‘Horns, I’ll have to see it to believe it.

Twitter is not the perfect measure for the popularity of a football program, but it does seem to match well with recruiting (and often on-field) success in the Big 12 (this might be a “chicken or the egg” argument). Fortunately, Twitter followers and recruiting rankings don’t define wins, as evidenced by the Pokes consistent success in Mike Gundy’s tenure as head coach.

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