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Friday, April 8, 2011
Bieber Fever sweeping the Big 12

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

NORMAN, Okla. -- The first signs came with a phone call in Stillwater, Okla., back in February. Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy's phone blared during a press conference with the Justin Bieber hit, "Baby."

On Thursday, another single from the 17-year-old sensation, "U Smile" echoed down the hallways from Oklahoma's locker room.

Bieber Fever, it would seem, has taken over the Big 12.

"For awhile there, I thought Bieber might be coming to Stillwater to kick it with us," Cowboys quarterback Brandon Weeden said of his coach's expressed desire to get the pop star to attend a game this fall.

(Oklahoma State officials, by the way, say the ringtone itself was a joke, but having it ring during the press conference was unplanned. They say Gundy told them it was the builder for a house he was currently flipping. I have my doubts, but that's a mystery to be solved another day.)

"I think Coach Gundy had fun with it, but I didn’t really put much thought to it," Weeden said.

Someone who's put plenty of thought to contacting Bieber is perhaps his biggest fan in the Big 12, Oklahoma safety Tony Jefferson. The sophomore (@tonyjefferson1) tweets at Bieber periodically.

"That’s my man," Jefferson said. "Hoping I get a retweet or something. Hopefully, one day."

So far, his efforts have been unsuccessful. His fandom? Undeterred.

"I’m waiting for his movie to come out, May 15th, on DVD. I’ve already seen it in theaters and I’m waiting for the DVD," he said. "I just respect music and respect people who are doing the right thing. He’s a young kid and after seeing his movie [I saw] he gave up a lot of his childhood, and he’s doing a lot for a 17-year-old."

(Full disclosure: My iTunes library is Bieber-free, but I don't understand how anyone can hear "U Smile" and not hear at least a little young Michael Jackson.)

Jefferson, however, has plans to exercise his fandom in a campus singing competition next week, "Sooner Idol."

"I might be doing 'U Smile,'" he said. "I can’t do 'Never Say Never.' It’s too fast. My voice is too sweet for that. I’m just going for the slow songs."

Jefferson was watching when Bieber took home the MVP of the celebrity game during NBA All-Star Weekend, besting Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen for the honor and highlighting his performance with a crossover to get by rapper Common.

"I think ballers recognize ballers. We’ll see how it goes," Jefferson said of the search, adding that one day, Bieber would know who he was.

Gundy joked in the days following his infamous phone call that he was going to recruit the current high schooler, but doing so would bring about a whole new demographic of Cowboys fans.

"If we’re recruiting 9-12 year-old girls, we can get him up here," Weeden said.

Just don't tell Jefferson. He's busy listening to Bieber.

"I’m a different guy and I like different things," he said. "I’ve got the fever right now, and until that dies off, I’m Biebin’ it."