It’s not a bad thing for your football program to be talked about in mid-June.
The Arizona Wildcats managed that Monday with the release of a video entitled Hard Edge, featuring Rich Rodriguez and his coaching staff in Western garb at Old Tucson Studios. Naturally, the program posted the video at high noon.
The media quickly responded.
The 159-second video was mentioned on, among many other sites, CBSSports.com, Deadspin.com, the Orlando Sentinel, the Big Ten Network, the Detroit Free Press — which pondered, “It really is a wonder that Rich Rodriguez didn’t fit in in Ann Arbor” — and had so many more mentions on Twitter, including from Grantland.com, so this thing managed to find most sports corners of the web.
Just as with those prototype logo facemasks from earlier this month, Arizona football has people talking once again. As of midnight, the video had nearly 20,000 views on YouTube.
As for Hard Edge, like nearly all of the athletic department videos, it is slick and well-produced, with the title referring to one of Rodriguez’s favorite sayings. He wants his team to play with a “hard edge.”
“That goes back to the days when we were at Glenville State (1990 to 1996),” Rodriguez told me last August.
“You think kids all play hard. Especially in college and especially at this level. But there are different levels of playing hard. It’s like watching a really good high school game. They could be two really good high school teams, great programs, but those kids don’t play nearly as hard as what college kids do because they don’t know.
I think my greatest pride as a coach, I hope, is that when people turn on the film, if nothing else they say, ‘Man, those kids really play hard.’ Because you can control it. You sometimes can’t control how fast you are and things like that, but you can control how hard you play.”
Rodriguez presumably had a blast in shooting the video, considering Clint Eastwood is his favorite actor and The Outlaw Josey Wales his favorite movie. Arizona coaches have long been going to the Western theme for photo ops and covers of media guides and special newspaper sections, including Lute Olson and, gulp, John Mackovic.
Rodriguez hopes he doesn’t get run out of town and told to never come back, like the latter.
The most authentic part of the video is defensive line coach Bill Kirelawich chomping on a cigar — something he can be seen doing at every practice.
The video is a bit of summer fun, and it’s all about getting noticed. No coincidence that Matt Dudek, the program’s director of recruiting, appears next to a sign that includes the word “recruiting.”
Also worth noting is that the end credits include “#ontothenextone productions.” That hashtag is Dudek’s Twitter code for the Wildcats having just received a commitment.