Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer endorsed Ohio Gov. John Kasich for president in a video released Thursday by the Republican hopeful’s campaign.
“Now that I really know what you stand for, (my wife and I would) like to tell you we wish you guys the best,” the coach said in the nearly two-minute video. “Go win this darn thing.”
The news of Meyer pledging his support for Kasich comes at a critical time for the governor, as voters in Ohio, and four other states, prepare to head to the polls Tuesday to cast their primary ballots. Kasich has said if he does not win Ohio, he will drop out of the Republican race. In a state where football is king, having the most popular figure in the sport offer an endorsement could help push Kasich to a victory.
In the four polls offered by Real Clear Politics, Kasich trails frontrunner Donald Trump in three of them. The lone poll that shows the governor leading in his own state was released Wednesday by Fox News. In that poll, Kasich received 34 percent support, while the real estate mogul Trump had 29 percent. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.5 percent.
In the video, which was posted on YouTube, Meyer and Kasich appear in front of a navy-blue backdrop patterned with Kasich’s campaign logo. They talked about the first time they met for dinner four years ago, and Meyer explained how he researched the governor’s “great work” and “the great leadership (he has) shown for our great state.”
The two men spoke about “raising the bar” both in the political sphere and on the gridiron, and they also discussed legendary OSU football coach Woody Hayes before Meyer offered his official endorsement in the video’s final seconds.
Meyer publicly supporting a political candidate comes as a surprise after what he told David Briggs of The Toledo Blade in an article published on Feb. 21. The article deals with college football coaches no longer being politically active, which used to be commonplace historically with figures like Hayes and former Penn State coach Joe Paterno.
“No, my job description is very clear, and that’s to coach Ohio State football, and the focus is on 17- to 18- to 22-year-olds,” Meyer told The Blade. “I have strong beliefs, but I’m not going to share that with you guys. I don’t think that’s appropriate.”
On Tuesday when speaking to the media following OSU’s first spring practice, Meyer was prompted with a question about Trump, which he immediately deflected and began talking about injuries plaguing a few of his players.
Meyer joins former OSU football coach Jim Tressel, who recently endorsed Kasich as well. Politico is reporting that Tressel, who currently serves as President of Youngstown State University, will appear at two events with the governor in the coming days.
In 1960, Richard Nixon credited his upset win in Ohio over soon-to-be president John F. Kennedy to the support of former coach Hayes. It remains the only time after World War II that a winning presidential candidate didn’t carry Ohio.
Kasich graduated from OSU in 1974 with a bachelor’s degree in political science, and he represented Ohio in the House of Representatives for 18 years. Meyer received his undergraduate degree from the University of Cincinnati and holds a master’s degree in sports administration from OSU. He was born in Toledo and grew up in Ashtabula, Ohio.
Editor’s note: Because of an editor’s error, a Google Chrome extension misspelled Donald Trump’s name in multiple references in a previous version of the story.