Greg Hansen: It's gotta be the hair - Mayes a force again

Jordin Mayes, right, got a request from teammate Solomon Hill: "We told him we needed him to wear an Afro like he did" in 2011, Hill said.


Dear Mr. Football: Is Ka'Deem Carey the best back ever to play in the Arizona-Nevada series?

A: If you've followed this series closely (which means you must be at least 95), you'll know Nevada first played at Arizona on Thanksgiving Day, 1925. Button Salmon was Arizona's quarterback and he played so well in a 0-0 tie (he punted 11 times) that this newspaper wrote:

"Button, the darling of Arizona's fandom, is a finished field general and punter of the first caliber." He died 11 months later, sparking the "Bear Down" legend.

In a sense of good timing, when the teams gathered Friday at a Gildan New Mexico Bowl luncheon, the UA marching band very loudly played "Bear Down, Arizona." It woke up a few echoes.

Dear Mr. Football: Has anyone worked harder preparing for this game than the Wildcats?

A: Since the regular season ended, the Pride of Arizona Marching Band has held practices in the daylight, under the lights, dodging finals, staging the annual band banquet, at which MVPs of the pom line, and the band, among others, were honored. They take this bowl stuff very seriously.

Their prize was to leave McKale Center at 2 a.m., Friday aboard six buses, driving through the night to Albuquerque, engaging in a Battle of the Bands with Nevada, bundling up for a cold game at University Stadium and then, immediately after the game, will re-board their buses for a midnight return to Tucson.

As the UA football team was honored at Friday's luncheon, eating in a grand ballroom, the Pride of Arizona crowded into a smaller room nearby to share several dozen boxes of pizza.

Dear Mr. Football: Has Nevada ever deployed an offense more devastating than "The Pistol?"

A: In a 1941 game in Tucson, the Wolf Pack arrived at the airport - greeted by Tucson mayor Henry Jaastad and a horse named Pinto - posing for photos wearing cowboy hats and western gear.

The Wolf Pack's star was Marion Motley - yes, THE Marion Motley, Hall of Famer - who was hailed in Tucson newspapers as "the pile-driving 212 pound avalanche."

In '41, Nevada ran an offense some called "The Mousetrap" in which the pile-driving, 212-pound avalanche would run against an Arizona defensive line whose average weight was 192 pounds.

Alas, the Mousetrap failed. Arizona won 26-7 and the series was discontinued.

Dear Mr. Football: Did someone from the recruiting service goof when they chose Ka'Boom Carey a distant No. 7 in the final rankings of Arizona prep prospects in the Class of 2011?

A: Here's an update on that not-so-accurate poll :

1. Christian Westerman, OL, Chandler Hamilton High. He went to Auburn, redshirted in '11 and played in two games this year. He is transferring to ASU.

2. Brett Hundley, QB, Chandler High, He is a star-in-the-making at UCLA.

3. Cyrus Hobbi, C, Scottsdale Saguaro. After redshirting in 2011 for USC, Hobbi got two starts early in the year and is currently listed as third-team center.

4. Andre Yruretagoyena, OL, Scottsdale Chaparral. Redshirted in 2011, and is not mentioned on the Ducks' depth chart.

5. Tyler Johnstone, OL, Hamilton. Like Yruretagoyena, he is a redshirt freshman with no playing time yet at Oregon.

6. Todd Peat Jr., DL, Tempe Corona del Sol. In his second year at Nebraska, Peat has yet to make a tackle as a redshirt freshman.

Dear Mr. Football: Shouldn't Arizona beat Nevada every year?

A: Strictly on tangible resources, Arizona should hammer the Wolf Pack the way Oregon did (69-20) a year ago at Autzen Stadium.

According to the Department of Education, Nevada's total athletic revenues for the 2011-12 school year were $19.5 million. Arizona: $76 million.

The Wolf Pack doesn't have a modern football practice facility, their head coach, Chris Ault, is paid $493,000 (which is below many Pac-12 coordinators), and they only have six men's sports, one of which is a rifle team.

Yet the Wolf Pack has whipped Cal 52-31 and 31-24 over the last three years even though Cal spent $340 million on a stadium makeover and was paying coach Jeff Tedford almost $3.5 million annually.

Yes, Nevada desperately needs a new football plant; its facilities lag considerably behind region rivals New Mexico and Utah State, for instance. But first Nevada must hire a contemporary athletic director (it is paying a ridiculous $60,000 to a search firm to find one) and raise tens of millions of dollars to get up to code.

How Ault continues to win with his primitive resources is one of the better stories in a sport dominated by big money.

Dear Mr. Football: Will today's "crowd" be the smallest for an Arizona game since that 1941 game against Nevada?

A: Because Arizona was forced to pay for 5,000 tickets, and Nevada 10,000, the official attendance can't be any smaller than 15,000.

But a good guess is that about 7,500 will be in the seats today. Maybe fewer.

In its Pac-12 years, the smallest listed attendance for an Arizona game was 8,000 at Oregon State in a 1981 rainstorm. Last year, Nevada drew just 10,027 for a home game against Idaho, and this year played before a mere 14,210 at Texas State.

The smallest attendance for any bowl game last year was 20,072 when Florida International and Marshall met in the Beef 'O'Brady's Bowl.

Today's game could make the B'O'B's bowl come off as a mob scene.

Dear Mr. Football: Is Arizona in danger of being the worst bowl team in Pac-12 history?

A: The UA is coming off Alamo and Holiday bowl losses by a cumulative 69-10, but Colorado went 0-7 in bowl games from 1972 to 1990. And Oregon went 0-4 twice recently (1990-96, 2002-06).

So Rich Rodriguez has some wiggle room in his inaugural UA bowl appearance.

"We've had some bumps in the road," he said Friday. "And we'll have some more bumps in the future."

But today should be smooth sailing. If it's not a snowstorm, this could be a 500-yard, 50-point day for Arizona (and maybe for Nevada too). Arizona 52, Nevada 34.