A young woman parking cars Saturday afternoon at Eighth and Vine streets held aloft a sign that said "$12, no waiting."
The "no waiting" part seemed even better than a reduced price for close-in parking at Arizona Stadium, because once again, after a 38-35 loss to Oregon State, the Wildcats continue their long wait, unable to beat the Beavers here or virtually anywhere.
Someone joked that the commemorative copper quarter used for Saturday's ceremonial coin toss had the slogan "In Rod We Trust" above George Washington's head but, sadly, that may be the only way to sustain faith in Arizona's long-troubled football machinery.
As soon as referee Jack Folliard pocketed the quarter, it seemed like Oregon State led 17-0 and that Beaver quarterback Sean Mannion could take his team the length of the field, or any length, on command.
What choice does Arizona have but to follow coach Rich Rodriguez's broad reconstruction plan, and as he loves to say, "keep pulling the rope."
By the time Mannion took OSU on a game-winning, carve-out-your-heart, 75-yard drive in the final minutes Saturday night, the hardy few remaining from the disappointing small crowd of 44,153 at Arizona Stadium - its lowest attendance for a conference home game since 2004 - must have felt like using that rope to hang themselves. Or at least inflict some pain to forget the whole thing.
Oregon State, which is no one's idea of a college football juggernaut, has now won six consecutive games in Tucson dating to 1997, and each one of them seems to be more painful and damaging than the one before.
In 2006 the Beavers won here 17-10, putting the Wildcats at 3-5 and essentially keeping them out of a bowl game.
In 2008, OSU won here 19-17.
And in 2010, the Beavers won here 29-27, shattering the then-No. 9 Wildcats' visions of grandeur, the last real sniff Arizona had of any national relevance under Mike Stoops.
The most accurate thing you could say about Arizona's loss Saturday is that the players who will help the Wildcats someday beat Oregon State aren't on campus yet. They aren't even Wildcats. They are high school sophomores and seniors yet to be recruited to replace the irregulars and leftovers that RichRod deploys in attempt to turn the Wildcats into winners again.
Arizona's problems Saturday night were compounded by an unusually high number of injuries. When Mannion took the Beavers on their game-winning drive, Arizona was forced to deploy, among others, rarely used players such as C.J. Dozier and Patrick Onwuasor, among others.
Mannion's eyes must have lit up.
I mean, the Wildcats had so many new faces in so many new places that a guard, Addison Bachman, filling in for injured center Kyle Quinn, actually caught a deflected pass for a first down as the Wildcats drove to take a 35-31 lead with 5:35 remaining.
If you are playing defense against the Beavers, 5:35 seems like a decade. The Wildcats were almost defenseless in that winning/losing drive.
What makes losing to the Beavers at home further maddening for UA fans is that two years ago Mannion was in high school. The young QB who beat Arizona that day, Ryan Katz, threw for 393 yards and two touchdowns. He was instantly anointed OSU's quarterback of the future.
Oh, if life were only that enriching for UA football. Katz soon lost his job to Mannion, transferred to San Diego State, and the Wildcats were left to wonder where in the world OSU keeps coming up with all of those offensive stars of the last decade.
Previously unheralded Beavers freshman tailback Storm Woods - that's S-t-o-r-m - rushed for 161 yards Saturday. His career best had been 90 yards in a college game. The one identifiable OSU offensive standout, senior receiver Markus Wheaton, continued to do to the Arizona defense what he has done seemingly forever. In the victory in Tucson in 2010, Wheaton caught seven passes for 113 yards. This time he caught 10 for 166 and two touchdowns.
In the end, Arizona's young and splintered defense couldn't account for Woods, Wheaton or Mannion. It was a trifecta that gained 613 yards. That is usually enough to get you beat unless, like Oklahoma State a few weeks ago, you turn the ball over five times.
The Beavers had but one turnover.
And in the this-is-getting-ridiculous department, a missed first-half field goal attempt betrayed the Wildcats as much as anything else. When there is no room for error, a blown three-pointer haunts you to the end.
RichRod's offensive system again continued to produce. It seems crazy for a team to gain 545 yards - for a QB like Matt Scott to throw for 403 yards - and still lose.
But that's college football in 2012. And it's better than getting beat 49-0.
In a bigger picture, Arizona measured well against the Beavers in most areas. Perhaps it was OSU's maturity and the continuity of Mike Riley's program that made the difference down the stretch.
Through five games, you can probably say with some authority that Arizona is average, maybe a bit better, and that it can hang with and beat the other C-plus teams remaining, teams like Washington and Utah, and surely Colorado.
But now the season finale against Arizona State seems to be in the it-might-not-be-pretty category.
Things can change dramatically week to week in college football, and for Arizona it did just that Saturday. The Wildcats went from embarrassed, 49-0 losers to Oregon, to a willing, play-'em-close-to-the-end shootout with the nation's No. 18 team.
For now, "In Rod We Trust" is about all UA fans have to keep the faith.
Contact Greg Hansen at 573-4362 or email@example.com