By Anthony Gimino / Special for Tucson News Now
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - It deserves to be the subtitle to the Rich Rodriguez era: "60 minutes of Arizona."
That's the philosophy, the catchphrase, that drives the program to play until the final second, to never quit, to still believe something good can occur if you to happen be down 22 points at halftime.
Every coach in America preaches the same thing, but the Wildcats have delivered and been rewarded for their perseverance and resolve with a pair of improbable comeback wins - the 2012 New Mexico Bowl and the most recent game against Cal, when Arizona scored 36 fourth-quarter points for a 49-45 victory, capped by a final-play Hail Mary touchdown pass.
Sixty minutes of Arizona.
How does Rodriguez make that resonate?
It starts because he practices what he preaches about practicing.
"He never takes a play off from coaching, whether it's at practice or in a game. Neither do any of the other coaches," former Arizona linebacker Jack Fischer said on this week's video roundtable episode of The Sports Guys.
"And also the amount of work we put in during the offseason in every single workout. ... I made a comment on the pregame show that if (Cal Coach) Sonny Dykes saw the way we conditioned every day in the offseason, he would probably get dizzy.
"I think it's a testament to that, just the great shape we're in, the kind of mentality we have. The coaches don't let us quit. They are never going to quit on us. The ones that quit are the ones that quit on themselves."
It's no secret that conditioning is the center of everything in Rodriguez's hurry-up version of college football.
"When this staff came in, I was coming off a knee injury, so I knew I had to run, get in shape," Fischer said. "So when we started conditioning, I thought I was going to be light years ahead of everyone. And I was, but I was still struggling.
"I was still struggling really bad. The conditioning we were doing, I wasn't used to it. I thought I was pushing myself, but in reality I really wasn't, you know what I mean? These coaches, they push you to a different level, and there is a different level you can get to."
DAY OF REST
The Wildcats won't practice Saturday. Rodriguez, after Wednesday's practice, said he'd study some Oregon game video and then spend the rest of the day watching college football.
"One of the best things about open dates is you get to watch someone else suffer on Saturday ... and Thursday."
Arizona fans liked the result from Tempe on Thursday night, when UCLA buried Arizona State, 62-27, under an avalanche of big plays. Former UA quarterback and current Arizona student assistant B.J. Denker took to Twitter afterward:
NOT 'DRIVE' TIME
Arizona isn't ready to volunteer to be the subject of "The Drive" on the Pac-12 Networks, which is the league's version of HBO's annual "Hard Knocks," an embedded behind-the-scenes look at an NFL team's training camp.
UCLA is the featured team on The Drive this season. Arizona State and Cal offered all-access last year.
Rodriguez said the league "asked us about it," but the Wildcats declined to be a subject.
"At this stage of building our program, with a lot of new, young faces, we decided we would wait to do that," he said. "Maybe sometime in the future, but we have enough cameras around right now."
Athletic director Greg Byrne recently said on 1290-AM (KCUB) that the decision to participate is between publicity and privacy.
"The television producer is going to care about one thing - to produce the best television possible," he said. "That is not always conducive to what you want to accomplish around your practice field or locker room or meeting room."
Byrne added that Arizona has turned down opportunities to provide greater-than-normal access during the NCAA Tournament. He noted that any decision has to be in line with the comfort of the head coach.
"Where there are boundaries, you need to respect what their wishes are," Byrne said.
"It's going to be rough. I was on the travel squad two years ago when we went, and it was intense. When they're chanting, it sounds like you have a headset on, listening to the 'Go Ducks' chant. It's intense." - Junior PK Casey Skowron, on playing at Oregon's Autzen Stadium on Thursday.
Anthony Gimino has covered University of Arizona athletics for more than two decades, including as the football beat writer for the Arizona Daily Star and the columnist for the Tucson Citizen.