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Murray's Mailbag, part II: What bowl could Nevada max out in with perfect 2021 season?

Jay Norvell
Jay Norvell leads Nevada onto the field against UNLV last season. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

It's been a busy return from vacation for me as we have not just one but two Monday Mailbags to kick off the week. The first one focused solely on conference realignment (you can read that one here). This one had the rest of the questions from the week, so let's get to them. Thanks, as always, for the inquiries.

Almost certainly not considering the Rose Bowl pits the Pac-12 champion against the Big Ten champion. Now there's a chance the Pac-12 or Big Ten winner gets into the College Football Playoff (the Orange Bowl and Cotton Bowl this season), which would open a spot in the Rose Bowl. But in cases like that, the second-best team from the conference typically plays in the Rose Bowl like Wisconsin instead of Ohio State in the 2019 season and USC instead of Washington in the 2016 season. The only time a Pac-12 team didn't play a Big Ten team in the Rose Bowl (outside of seasons in which the bowl hosted the national championship game or a College Football Playoff semifinal) was the 2010 season when TCU(then in the Mountain West) played Wisconsin, and that was the result of Pac-12 champ Oregon playing in the title game and Stanford in the Orange Bowl. Nevada's best bowl, if it runs the table, is the Fiesta Bowl, which has a history of hosting the Group of 5's New Year's Six bowl team, or the Peach Bowl, also a New Year's Six bowl.

As for Carson Strong, if Nevada goes 13-0 entering the bowl season, he'll be top five in the Heisman vote, although I don't see any Group of 5 athlete winning that award. The cards are too stacked against them. I'll be interested if Nevada does a Heisman marketing campaign for Strong. I haven't seen anything yet on that front, but lots of Group of 5 schools do those campaigns to raise awareness for their star players entering a season.

And I'll take shaved ice over macadamias. We went to Ululani's Hawaiian Shave Ice. It was recommended from one of the parents on our soccer team, and it was fantastic. I got the pineapple with toasted coconuts. It was worth the mile walk from our hotel.

That honor is currently held by Mike Vick, who ranks 87th in NFL history in career rushing yards with 6,109. Cam Newton is second among quarterbacks with 5,398 yards. Randall Cunningham is third with 4,928. Colin Kaepernick had 2,300 rushing yards in his six NFL seasons (regular-season stats only since the postseason stats don't count; he added 507 in the playoffs). Kaepernick averaged roughly 40 rushing yards per game in his regular-season starts, so if he kept up that pace, it would have required 95 more games to catch Vick. That's six full seasons of 16-game campaigns. So, no, Kaepernick wouldn't have that distinction at his point since he's only missed four seasons via blackball. And Lamar Jackson (2,906 yards in three seasons) probably would have beaten him to Vick's record anyway. But that doesn't change the fact Kaepernick was blackballed while Vick got to play in the league again after literally killing dogs, lying to officials about his dog fighting ring and spending 23 months in prison. Seems like a double-standard!

The answer to your first question is either Edgar Jones or Kirk Snyder. Jones always believed he never lived up to his potential because his coaches wouldn't play him.

“In the NBA, they regulated me to being a shot-blocker and rebounder,” Jones told me in 2013. “The people that I worked for were the people who gave me the most trouble as far as getting on the court. There was too much politics. I came to play every night and always had a chip on my shoulder. Nobody wanted to see me in practice. That’s where I got my 40 points.”

Added former Nevada coach Sonny Allen: “Athletically, as good as JaVale (McGee) was, he was only half as good an all-around athletic talent as Edgar was. He could jump with the best of them. He was as quick as they came. He could have done anything. He could have been a sprinter or track star.”

Despite not getting a lot of NBA playing time, Jones averaged 9.0 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in 19.2 minutes per game while shooting 50.6 percent from the field. He had All-Star potential, and no Nevada player has been an NBA All-Star (or gotten close).

As for Snyder, his career ended after four seasons because of off-the-court and mental issues that eventually led him to jail shortly after his NBA career ended. He was an ideal NBA player from a physical and skills standpoint. He wasn't a great shooter for a 6-foot-6 wing, which would have limited his ceiling, but he should have been more than what he became (6.3 points, 2.3 rebounds, 1.1 assists in 16.8 minutes over four seasons). Ultimately, I'd pick Jones by a hair over Snyder.

The answer to your second question is much easier — it's Ramon Sessions, who was thought of as the Wolf Pack's third-best prospect in his draft behind Nick Fazekas and Marcellus Kemp, who withdrew from that draft to return to school for his senior season. Most people had Kemp as a better pro prospect than Sessions and were surprised Sessions stayed in the draft while Kemp pulled out of it. But Sessions ended up having a strong 11-year NBA career (10.3 points, 4.1 assists, 2.7 rebounds per game). I wouldn't have forecasted JaVale McGee winning three NBA titles and potentially an Olympic gold medal, but him playing a decade in the NBA wasn't outlandish given his size and athleticism. Nobody forecasted Sessions playing a decade in the league given he was a good player at Nevada and not a great one statistically. He cleared sacrificed a lot of his game in college for the team's success.

Nope. I don't request that until the week of the home opener. I'll be interested to see the final outcome there. Here is the Wolf Pack's football season-ticket base every year since 2010:

2010: 11,452

2011: 12,315

2012: 11,864

2013: 12,783 (program record)

2014: 11,846

2015: 11,352

2016: 10,021

2017: 9,174

2018: 8,771

2019: 7,877

I'd guess it's in the 9,000-9,5000 range for the 2021 season.

Zero impact. Here is Tate Martell's college football history.

If Tate Martell is playing a big role for UNLV the next two seasons, things aren't going very well for Marcus Arroyo's club.

No, because then you'd lose gymnastics, diving, figure skating, boxing, etc., but I'm not a huge fan of sports that have a subjective scoring system. There's too much bias in play. We were watching dressage, which is basically horses dancing around, yesterday, and I have no idea how you score something like that. I wouldn't remove scoring-based sports from the Olympics, but I do put a little less credence into them given how they award medals.

I love it. How can you not love ping-pong? It's one of the best sports invented. Last Christmas, we were deciding between getting the kids a ping-pong table and a foosball table. We went with the foosball table given the size of the two, but we had a ping-pong table at my childhood home, and I loved playing it as a kid. The level they play ping-pong at in the Olympics is bonkers.

Triathlon. I used to be a decent half-marathon runner, and I'm a good swimmer. I don't love cycling because it hurts my ass, but I can ride a bike OK. If I dedicated four years to that sport, I might be able to come in second-to-last place. What a goal to set!

The Nevada legislature has passed an NIL bill. It goes into place Jan. 1, 2022, so only a few months away. But in a twist, states that didn't pass NIL bills actually have an advantage over those that did because the NCAA said athletes in states with NIL bills have to follow those rules whereas athletes in states without NIL bills basically have free reign as long as they follow school protocol. In the end, I don't think Nevada or UNLV are at a big advantage of disadvantage from an NIL standpoint.

And Nevada women's swimming and diving's title also was at the Division II level in the AIAW in 1979. Nevada rifle won the National Rifle Association title in 1956. And Nevada boxing won National Collegiate Championships in 1964 and 1968 in addition to NCBA titles in 1976, 1978, 1991, 1993 and 2015. The Reno Silver Sox won five league titles in the 1940s-1970s, but they didn't have national titles back then.

Zero percent odds you actually cash that bet, but it's only $60 to win $60,060, so there's no harm in making that bet. My only advice would be to keep it in a secure place that you will remember. It'd be insane if you actually won that bet and couldn't find the ticket. That's one of the perks of mobile betting. You can never lose a winner. Good luck to you and to the Wolf Pack! But if Gonzaga can't win a championship after all these years, Nevada isn't doing so this season. Maybe the Wolf Pack can make a deep enough run you can start hedging some bets and make some money.

It's hard to complain about a closer who has a 2.97 ERA, a .179 batting average against and 22 saves in 27 chances, but when he blows up, he really blows up. Before blowing saves in three straight games last week, including twice against the Giants, he had 15 straight scoreless appearances. That's pretty good. But the dude has a 14.29 ERA with three losses in seven games against the Giants this season (he has a 1.07 ERA in all other games). That's a problem, and I don't think many Dodger fans want Jansen closing games in the playoffs despite him being such a huge part of the team over the last decade.

This person, with zero followers and following zero people, really made this account just to ask this question.

The bots have overtaken the Monday Mailbag.

We're bald. You can say it. We use Banana Boat Sport (the stuff in the orange bottle), and it worked just fine. We didn't have any burns during our seven days in Maui, thankfully.

Every time we went by Leoda's, the line was way out the door, so we didn't stop there. We also didn't go to Mama's Fish House. My favorite meal came at Huihui, a beachfront restaurant in Kaanapali that opened two weeks before we arrived.

We've only been to three of the Hawaiian islands, those being Maui, O'ahu and the Big Island, so I can only weigh in on those. I'd rank them: 1) Maui, 2) Big Island, 3) O'ahu, but you can't go wrong being in Hawaii. Maui has a nice mix of tourist stuff and upper-level resort life as well as great nature adventures. My favorite activity was either the zip-line tour we did at Maui Zipline, the dinner cruise we took with Gemini or the bumper boats and mini golf at Maui Golf & Sports Park. But my favorite thing? That's sinking the shot in the video above! Or snorkeling next to a giant sea turtle by myself early one morning. But, more than anything, it was spending quality uninterrupted time with my family relaxing and seeing my kids enjoy the ocean. I don't think anybody loves the ocean more than our 6-year-old son.

My top tip would be to reserve all of your stuff now. If you wait until the last minute to book restaurants or activities, you're not going to get a seat at those restaurants or doing those activities. Everything is booked out. But must-dos for me would be: a zip-line tour, a dinner cruise, snorkeling at the Black Rock at Kaanapali (that's where I ran into the giant sea turtle), Ululani's Hawaiian Shave Ice, eat at Huihuis, visit the Maui Tropical Plantation in Waikapu (you can dine at Cafe O'lei At The Mill House), go to the Maui Ocean Center and drive the road to Hana if you have all day and don't mind super windy one-way roads. We didn't see the sun rise at Haleakal National Park, but that's apparently awesome (you have to get a reservation in advance). There are tons of great things to do in Maui. We could have spent two weeks there and still had things we wanted to do but didn't have time for.

I was hoping the hoop would still be there from when we got married at that resort (the Westin) eight years ago. Indeed, it was, and I spent an hour one morning playing hoops by myself. We played a 2-on-2 game during our trip there eight years ago. Fun little hoop.

Before I answer that question, I want to give my list of excuses on why it took so many attempts (for the record, it was about 35 attempts). So, the excuses: the ball was slippery, the hoop was more like 12 feet in height, it was crazy windy, it was a half-court-length shot and people were watching me one miss after another. One family, in particular, seemed to enjoy my copious doinks off the rocks. There's actually a funny story behind that make. My daughter was filming each of my shots. All misses, of course. I told her it was too much pressure to make a shot on the camera and said, "Don't film this one and I bet you I make it." And then I threw up the shot you see above. That's why I turned around so excitedly because I figured she didn't film it. But Lexi was to the rescue and got my "One Shining Moment" on film even though I told her not to record that shot.

As for the top-five tropical beverages, I answered that a couple of Mailbags ago and will stick with my top five (I also like a good Mudslide):

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)

My guy just wants to be thrown into the water, as it should be!

Thanks again for all the questions this weekend — enough for two Monday Mailbags — and 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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