Road to 1991 Perfection: Mario Controlled the Apple Cup Conversation

Bailey's two touchdown catches brought an end to the cross-state chatter for the big game.
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Washington State freshman cornerback Torey Hunter called him Super Mario, which wasn't a compliment. The reference was to a video-game character.

Michael Wright, a Cougars veteran corner, joined in on the trash talk, mocking the University of Washington's top receiver. 

Their cross-state 1991 Apple Cup messages came at Mario Bailey fast and furious. Late at night. Over the phone. By pager. Through middle men.

"They were basically telling me what they were going to do to stop me," Bailey said.

Telling is one thing, but doing is another.

The guys from Pullman turned out to be all talk and no action.

Bailey first beat Hunter to haul in a 20-yard touchdown pass from Mark Brunell in the second quarter. The Husky got to his feet and bowed.

Yep, Bow Down to Washington.

In the fourth quarter, Bailey was all alone in the end zone, diving for a 7-yard score from Billy Joe Hobert and his record-setting 17th TD catch of the season. This time the little wide receiver broke into a little dance. 

What WSU messages?

This is another in series of vignettes about the UW's 1991 national championship team, supplementing the conversation for the pandemic delayed and shortened season. We're in week 11 of this throwback series, Apple Cup week. The Huskies leveled Washington State in the rivalry game 56-21.

A few days following the game, Bailey got called into Coach Don James' office, expecting the worst from his TD showboating.

All he got was a little smile from the otherwise very conservative coach, obviously the spoils of an unbeaten season.

"When I got there, you couldn't wear socks down low," Bailey said. "You couldn't wear earrings. You couldn't have a beard. You couldn't do anything. But if you look at that team in that Washington State game, everybody is dancing and celebrating, doing all kinds of things a Don James team wouldn't do.

"But our team was evolving and he let us do our thing."

As for those brash Cougars, Bailey and the guys got together well after the fact and everything was good between them.

"All love," Bailey said. "Game over. Nothing to talk about. But I still remind them 30 years later though."

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