Kevin Sumlin traveled around the Phoenix area in style last weekend, using a helicopter to land at a pair of high school football games so that he could watch some high-profile recruits—a power move that the Arizona Wildcats coach says comes out of necessity rather than a desire to draws oos and ahs.
It’s not a new tactic. Sumlin did the same thing when he was the head coach at Texas A&M, where his helicopter was affectionately known as the “SwagCopter.”
It sure beats sitting in traffic.
“Everybody thinks it was something that was real flashy in recruiting,” Sumlin said Monday at his weekly presser. “We actually started it out of necessity the first time I used it. When you’re trying to get around Phoenix and see a couple games at night or Houston, it’s basically impossible at 6 o’clock on Friday afternoon, right? So, for us, it gave us the opportunity at that the last place (A&M) to practice on Thursday, and be with our players at practice, and still get to games in Houston or East Texas, and the same thing last week. We had the opportunity to get there and...I was able to see two different games and bounce across Phoenix, which is hard to do at 7 o’clock Friday night, but it was good. It was a productive weekend.”
Sumlin watched Higley defensive end Jason Harris at Millenium High School in Goodyear, then flew roughly 80 miles to Florence to watch three-star defensive end Regen Terry and Florence High take on Odyssey Institute.
Both schools posted about Sumlin’s landing on social media, generating thousands of impressions. Sumlin said deploying the helicopter shows high school coaches and recruits that Arizona is serious about recruiting in its home state.
Sumlin then agreed that it’s also proof the UA administration is willing to pour in the resources necessary to make Arizona a Pac-12 championship contender—something that can only happen if the Wildcats make serious strides on the recruiting trail.
Their classes perennially rank in the bottom third of the conference.
“Oh, yeah, (a helicopter) is just a little bit more expensive (than a car), right?,” Sumlin quipped. “Although it’s a lot quicker. But it says a lot. Our administration’s been great. I said that from the beginning. You look at the resources that we have and what we’re generating to give us a chance to win a championship becomes important. From the indoor to our facilities here, and now we’re dealing with the stadium, and how we’re getting around and trying to evaluate players that you got to have resources to do it. Our administration understands that, particularly if you sit down and say, ‘Hey, listen, here’s the reasons why.’ Yeah, this is what it is, the first thing everybody sees is the helicopter. But here are the reasons why we’d like to do it, and why we utilize it.”