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Murray's Mailbag: How far would Nevada's 2010 football team have gone in 12-team playoff?

Nevada football
Nevada football finished the 2010 season at No. 11 in the final AP Top 25 poll. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

My family and I visited Gardnerville's Carson Valley Days over the weekend, my first time going to that event in two decades. And while expensive, it was pretty cool and led to a nice family photo as we looked down on the town. But the weekend quickly ended, which means Monday has arrived. And that means another Murray's Mailbag. Let's get to your questions. Thanks, as always, for the inquiries.

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Thanks! Top of the Ferris Wheel. Carson Valley Days had some legitimately scary rides, including two that went upside down. It was a top-level carnival considering it's a traveling operation. First time I've been on a Gravitron, too. That's a cool ride.

I was going to write a story on that this week, but you beat me to the punch with the topic idea, so let's break it down. Technically, Nevada would not have made the playoff under the proposed 12-team College Football Playoff format released last week. The College Football Playoff selection committee wasn't formed then, so we could use the AP Top 25 rankings. Nevada was ranked 13th in the post-regular season AP Top 25, so it would have missed by one spot (the Wolf Pack was 15th in the BCS standings and 15th in the Coaches Poll that week, so the AP was the most favorable). Since this is a fantasy world we're talking about, let's use the post-bowl AP Top 25. At that point, Nevada was ranked 11th in the nation, so it would have made a post-bowl College Football Playoff, which would go as follows:

First-round byes: No. 1 Auburn, No. 2 TCU, No. 3 Oregon, No. 4 Stanford

First-round matchups: No. 5 Ohio State vs. No. 12 Arkansas; No. 6 Oklahoma vs. No. 11 Nevada; No. 7 Wisconsin vs. No. 10 Alabama; No. 8 LSU vs. No. 9 Boise State

In this scenario, the Wolf Pack would have played No. 6 Oklahoma with the winner advancing to face No. 3 Oregon. Funnily enough, Oklahoma's offensive coordinator that season was none other than current Wolf Pack head coach Jay Norvell. The Sooners went 12-2 in 2010, including 6-2 in the Big 12. Oklahoma's two losses were to Missouri and Texas A&M, which finished 18th and 19th in the nation, respectively, that season. The Sooners beat five ranked teams that year, including Florida State, Texas, Oklahoma State, Nebraska and UConn. However, this wasn't an overwhelming Oklahoma team. It scored narrow wins over Utah State (31-24) and Air Force (27-24), both at home. Six of the team's 12 victories came in one-score affairs.

Oklahoma had future NFL players at QB (Landry Jones), RB (DeMarco Murray) and WR (Ryan Broyles, Kenny Stills). In total, the Sooners had 24 future NFL players. Nevada's 2010 roster had 13. Oklahoma's run defense was iffy (148.9 yards allowed per game; 4.14 yards allowed per carry), ranking 58th in the nation in run defense. That would have played to the Wolf Pack's advantage considering Nevada was one of the nation's top rushing teams. Ultimately, I'd take Oklahoma in that game. In 2010, Nevada just played five above-.500 FBS teams in Boise State (12-1), Hawaii (10-4), Fresno State (8-5), BYU (7-6) and Boston College (7-6). Only the Broncos were a national-level team, and Nevada needed two missed chip-shot field goals to win that one. In those five games against above-.500 FBS foes, Nevada only had a plus-19 scoring margin (plus-3.8 points per game). It beat a number of mediocre teams by a narrow margin and was only tested by a truly elite team once.

Oklahoma was far more battled-hardened and probably beats Nevada 85 percent of the time. But that's the fun of a larger playoff system. We're just guessing. Let's see some of the best Group of 5 schools play some of the best Power 5 schools every year. That's what a 12-team playoff would give us.

I broke it down with a long column here, but I'm in favor of it. The format is big enough no team capable of winning the national championship would be left out of the bracket but small enough it won't make the regular season irrelevant. I'd also take an eight-game playoff, but going to 12 gives Nevada (and similar teams) a realistic chance of making the field. One of the biggest issues in college football for Group of 5 markets is they enter every season knowing they have zero chance of winning a national title. It's the only college sport where that's the case. The expanded playoff solves that issues, which could increase attendance, which has been sagging nationally.

As for biggest winners, it'd be Group of 5 conferences and non-Alabama SEC schools. Now, SEC schools don't have to beat Alabama to get into the playoff. It just made the job of a guy like Georgia's Kirby Smart a lot more secure. No wonder Smart loves the proposal. Losers? Notre Dame can't get a first-round bye in the proposed format, so I'd put the Irish in the loser category. You also could put the regular season among the losers, although I still think there's enough drama with a 12-team playoff that the regular season will have plenty of luster.

No, it's not going to help Group of 5 schools get higher-ranked recruits. Nevada will remain a developmental-based program. It will have to get high two-star and mid- to low-three star kids and turn them into pros. The most recent development in college athletics that will shake up recruiting is the name, image and likeness (NIL) legislation, which has already passed through the Nevada Legislature. We don't know exactly know how that will impact recruiting right now, but it's going to change things and will give a recruiting advantage to schools that help their athletes leverage their brand and image into revenue.

Men's basketball over football. It's way easier to build a Top 25-caliber basketball program than a Top 25-caliber football program. There are only five players on the court in basketball, so if you grab a couple of stars (like Nevada did in the early 2000s and late 2010s), you can ascend quickly. And then it just comes down to keeping your coach in place, which is more realistic in basketball than football. Salaries in football are way more skewed than basketball; strength coaches in the Power 5 make more than Nevada head coach Jay Norvell. Maintaining Top 25 success over a decade is tough in both sports, but it's easier in basketball than football, which underscores how amazing the Boise State football program has been. There's no comp to Boise State football over the last 20 years. In basketball, we've seen decade-long runs of success from mid-major schools, although Gonzaga is unique in that it's become a regular top-five school out of the mid-major ranks.

I'll go with Daniel Foster because the Wolf Pack coaches put him in the starting lineup as a true freshman last season despite the fact he missed a lot of practice time with an injury. That shows you how much the staff likes him and trusts him, and that should translate into more playing time this season for Foster than Alem Huseinovic (a returning sophomore) or Jalen Weaver (an incoming true freshman). Foster averaged 23.4 minutes per game last season, so even if he drops out of the starting lineup, which he probably will, he should be a 15- to 20-minute-a-night player, which I wouldn't predict for Huseinovic or Weaver. Foster also has a wide array of skills, so he's more versatile and can fill different roles. With Huseinovic, it comes down to his shooting. If he's hitting 40 percent of his threes, he'll be in the rotation. If he's not, it will be hard to get minutes. With Weaver, he's a true freshman, and they're always hard to predict. Kenan Blackshear could eat into the shooting guard minutes a little, but he'll have to improve his 3-point shooting. Grant Sherfield is going to get his 35 minutes. Desmond Cambridge Jr. is going to get his 30 minutes. Foster, Huseinovic and Weaver will split up most of the backup guard minutes.

My long-term memory is bad, so I'm foggy on some details. Pretty sure I threw a no-hitter during an All-Star game even though I rarely pitched during the regular season (I was a catcher). I also remember losing a Home Run Derby because one of the outfielders went over the fence and robbed one of my homers. But I'd say the top memory came in the 12-and-under division (I believe it's called "Majors") when I hit two homers in a game and was intentionally walked on the next at-bat. You don't see intentional walks in 12-year-old leagues very often, but it happened to me and I can remember by grandpa, who was in town from Florida, booing the other manager mercilessly. I believe the crowd was chanting "CON-GO" as well because that was briefly my nickname (named after the book "Congo" by Michael Crichton).

That's a better memory than me striking out against Carson High's Darrell Rasner with the baseball loaded and my team down one to end the game when I was a junior at Douglas. Of course, the ump was a Carson High alum and gifted Rasner two strikes that I thought were balls, which led to me being ejected after the game was over. But Rasner threw so hard the pitches could have been right down the middle of the plate and I wouldn't have known.


As for the Cubs, you know what they could use? They could use an ace, a guy like Yu Darvish. If only they could get a pitcher like that. Oh, they had that pitcher and traded him to San Diego for peanuts because their owners cried poor after funneling tens of millions of dollars into failed political races last cycle. What a shame? But, yes, the Cubs are as good as any team in the National League Central. I'll still take the Brewers to win that division, but FanGraphs gives the Cubs a 29.6 percent chance of winning the division, a 46.5 percent chance of making the playoffs and a 1.4 percent chance of winning the World Series. Yes, the Cubs have a good shot of making the playoffs. No, this is not a team that's going to win the World Series. The starting pitching isn't there to accomplish that.

If you leave the ship, you lose your spirit animal, so I'll go with all active members of Nevada Sports Net, which include:

Alex Margulies = Turtle (he call himself the "Big Honu," which is Hawaiian for "sea turtle," so that's an easy one)

Anthony Resnick = Lion ("relentless fighter in the face of life challenges," because Rez is fearless against all opposition)

Kirsten Moran = Ladybug ("master in the art of metamorphosis," because Kirsten can do a lot of things well)

Shannon Kelly = Deer ("able to bring gentleness and grace in every aspect of your life" because Shannon is super nice)

Jenna Holland = Hummingbird ("symbolizes the enjoyment of life and lightness of being" since Jenna travels a lot and does a lot of cool things)

Chris Murray = Owl ("emblematic of a deep connection with wisdom and intuitive knowledge," because I know a lot about the sports I cover; although I should point out owls are actually pretty dumb)

Depends on whether you want people who were in the market briefly and went on to bigger jobs or people who stayed in the market for the majority of their careers. It's hard not to put Chris Rose, Bonnie Bernstein or Mike Galanos on the list given the heights they reached. But if we're not including them given their brief stops in Northern Nevada, I'd go Bryan Samudio, JK Metzker, Dana Wagner and Jon Killoran with head nods to Chris Gargano, Bruce Breslow and Dan Armolea.

That would be me. Bryan's final working day was actually June 3, so I've held the majority of his duties since then, which includes producing NSN Daily. Producing the show means picking the topics discussed, grabbing soundbites and visuals for the show and writing the CGs (the little words on the bottom of the screen). With one person on vacation last week and two others out of the office on remote shoots, we only had three people on staff working on NSN's daily stuff last week (me, Kirsten Moran and Jenna Holland), and we got the show out each day. My co-host on NSN Daily will rotate between Shannon Kelly, Kirsten Moran and Alex Margulies, but we'll still produce our show and podcast every day during this transitional period. We've already started sketching out NSN, 2.0, which will coincide with our return to the studio post-pandemic. There are some very exciting things ahead. But, yes, for now, I'm doing about four people's jobs. But I'm used to that. I've done that most of my working life.

It was just fun to host a daily television show centered on local sports with him for almost three years. Growing up, I would have loved watching that. To be able to fill that role alongside Bryan was an immense pleasure, and I hope viewers realize how rare it is for a market this size to have a daily hour-long local sports talk show. It's unprecedented.

I honestly had to go look in the garage because I have no idea what kind of clubs I use. They're called Texan Classics. They are probably 25 years old, and they definitely suck. I have a Taylor Made driver that's at least 15 years old. And I only have that because I threw my club at the golf cart after a bad shot several years ago and it chopped off the head of my dad's driver, which was in its bag. I bought him a new driver and he gave me the head of his old one. I put a new shaft and grip on it. So, my clubs are old and crappy, but I don't think it impacts my score too much given how odd my game is. Maybe it does. Maybe I should upgrade clubs. But I don't want to throw down $500 for that. As for balls, I use whatever is in my bag on a given day. Nothing special.

If processing fees are 120 percent the cost of the tickets, I would call that excessive.

Dodgers! Nah, the Dodgers weren't very good that year. But they were in first place when the strike killed the season. The New York Yankees and Montreal Expos were the two best teams in baseball, so it's easy to say they'd match up in the World Series, but weird things happen in the playoffs. I find it funny that the Texas Rangers were 10 games under .500 (52-62) but still had the best record in the AL West. That's crazy. That season being canceled basically killed the Expos franchise, which never recovered attendance-wise from having its best team ever cut down by outside circumstances. The Expos didn't make the playoffs for the next 10 seasons before being relocated to Washington, D.C. The 1994 Expos were loaded and included Pedro Martinez, John Wetteland, Moises Alou, Larry Walker, Cliff Floyd and Marquis Grissom, among others. Montreal had three of the top-10 position players in WAR that season and ranked second in MLB in runs allowed per game (3.98). If the Expos won a World Series in 1994, the team could still be in Montreal.

I'm pretty sure I've heard "__________ is the fastest-growing sport in the world," about 15 sports over the last couple of years. Soccer and lacrosse are popular sports I hear that about. I have indeed played pickleball, although I'm not a huge fan. I like tennis. Tennis allows for power and athleticism to be advantages, two things I'm good at. Pickleball strips the importance of power and athleticism from the game. If I'm going to play a miniature version of tennis, I'd rather play ping-pong. But the pickleball courts in my community are always more packed than the tennis courts, so you're not alone in loving the sport. And it is a good workout if you play one-on-one rather than the more popular two-on-two. I've watched pickleball on television, and the "kitchen" aspect of the game is boring. People just try and drop the ball into the kitchen. Too much finesse for my liking.

Per a 2007 story, a 2 percent countywide car rental tax was imposed to generate $27 million in taxpayer money in Washoe County for the ballpark project (the City Council approved it with a 5-0 vote). Aces Ballpark and the surrounding area was supposed to total $91 million in projects. But the Great Recession hit and the final outcome looked nothing like the artist renderings provided when shovel first hit ground.

No, there is no limit on how many times a player can transfer, but after the first transfer a player must sit out a season and use a redshirt at his/her new school. Also, don't underestimate how often kids enter the transfer portal because their coach takes away their scholarship and gives it to a new recruit. That happens far more often than most fans know. The increase in transfers isn't 100 percent an athlete-driven phenomenon.

Prime Sandy Koufax might be the best pitcher ever. From 1962-66, he went 111-34 with four saves in 181 games (176 starts), posting a 1.95 ERA and 0.926 WHIP. He had a 167 ERA+ and struck out 1,444 batters in 1,377 innings. Koufax also posted a 0.95 ERA in his eight World Series games, allowing just 48 base runners with 61 strikeouts in 57 innings. So the next time somebody tells you Madison Bumgarner (postseason ERA of 2.11) is the best playoff pitcher ever, remind them of Koufax (postseason ERA of 0.95, all against top-flight competition in the World Series). Koufax is my pick for this question, not because he would improve the Dodgers' one-run record but because his five-year prime is almost unmatched in MLB history.

I agree that all other Mike & Ike flavors (and boxes) are second tier. But I'm sure they boost sells, so that's why they do it. There are 15 Mike & Ike boxes in total, including the original green. I'd rank them, from best to worst, as follows:

1. Original Fruits (Green box)

2. Red Rageous (Red)

3. Tropical Typhoon (Pink)

4. Cherry Cola (Red)

5. Strawberry Reunion (Black and pink)

6. Berry Blast (Blue)

7. Mega Mix (Light Blue with a rainbow)

8. Italian Ice (Light blue)

9. Zours (Yellow)

10. Sweet Paradise (Light Purple)

11. Jolly Joes (Purple)

12. Tangy Twister (Orange)

13. Lemonade Blends (Yellow)

14. Mega Mix Sour (Light Green with a rainbow)

15. Butter Popcorn (Yellow)

In general, I like candy that's red. Cherry, strawberry, watermelon, pomegranate, cinnamon, licorice. These are all red things that taste good as candies.

Now, this question is in my wheelhouse.

5. Sex on the beach (ice, vodka, orange juice, cranberry juice, peach schnapps, orange wedge on top)

4. Hurricane (ice, light rum, dark rum, lime juice, orange juice, passion fruit puree, simple syrup, grenadine, cherry on top) — the Hurricanes at Pat O'Brien in New Orleans did a number on me several years ago

3. Painkiller (ice, rum, pineapple juice, orange juice, cream of coconut, ground nutmeg, pineapple spear on top)

2. Strawberry daiquiri (ice, rum, frozen and fresh strawberries, lime juice, whipped cream on top)

1. Piña colada (ice, rum, cream of coconut, diced pineapple, pineapple juice, pineapple spear on top)

Apologies to Blue Hawaiian, Mai Tai, Melon Ball, Frozen Margarita, Killer Bee, Frozen Rum Runners and Lava Flow. In fact, I'm going to make all of the drinks above and slurp them down just to double-check my rankings. See y'all next week!

Sports columnist Chris Murray provides insight on Northern Nevada sports. He writes a weekly Monday Mailbag despite it giving him a headache and it taking several hours to write. But people seem to like it, so he does it anyway. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter @ByChrisMurray.

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