Nick Saban and Urban Meyer use success and pedigree to convince recruits to join their efforts. P.J. Fleck uses oars and enthusiasm. But some coaches have adopted more unorthodox, modern methods to lure a recruit to their program.
Arizona Wildcats head coach Rich Rodriguez, the offensive guru and former Michigan resident, is building somewhat of a power in Tucson, and viral videos have been critical to his success in recruiting.
Fox Sports’ Aaron Torres tracked down the man behind these pieces, Arizona director of on-campus recruiting and player personnel Matt Dudek, who said that the videos have become one of the Wildcats’ most successful recruiting tactics.
“A kid can be on our YouTube page at two in the morning,” Dudek said. “And for those four minutes, he’s thinking about Arizona football. Recruiting mailings are nice, but a kid looks at a mailing, says ‘Oh that’s cool’ then puts it down and moves onto the next thing. They spend 10 seconds on it total.”
This series of videos started with the “Hard Edge” series which featured Rodriguez and members of his staff as Wild West sheriffs. This obviously electrified the college football internet because few college coaches would ever do a video like that. But if a coach has a decent sense of humor, some spare time, and an initiative to recruit with these videos, the more outlandish they are, the better.
Rodriguez followed the Western series with a take on the Keanu Reeves classic “Speed,” in response to the proposed NCAA rule that would slow down high-tempo offenses like Arizona’s.
The team’s most recent video is less exciting and less creative, and its main goal is to use the hashtag of a short-lived NBC sitcom (#thenewnormal). But that’s not the point. With these videos being dispersed throughout the internet and, most importantly, onto the Twitter and Facebook pages of high school recruits, Rodriguez’s goal has been accomplished.
Arizona has never had a Heisman winner, or won a national championship. They haven’t appeared in the Rose Bowl and their Tucson campus averages surface-of-the-Sun-sweet-mama-it’s-hot temperatures during the summer. But Rodriguez and his team whomped Oregon last year, and they are building some respectability in the Pac-12. Maybe these videos are contributing to that.
Either way, if Arizona’s next video isn’t a new version of “Sharknado,” I will be very upset.