Road to 1991 Perfection: Mario's Heisman Bid Never Had a Chance

The Husky All-American wide receiver accumulated huge numbers during the national title run that could have been so much higher.
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Mario Bailey looks back at it now and laughs.

In 1991, whenever this ultra-competitive University of Washington wide receiver from Seattle really got going on the football field he had to throttle back. For ultimate goals and rewards, this meant he had to let them all go.

Against Oregon State in rainy conditions, the diminutive pass-catcher hauled in six first-half throws from Billy Joe Hobert and scored on three of them.

A month and a half earlier, Bailey came up with three first-half receptions for touchdowns against Toledo.

Each time, he sat down at halftime and didn't play again. It wasn't his choice. Husky coach Don James wasn't going beat an opponent into submission for anyone's personal gain.

Bailey had to shut off unprecedented performances that possibly could have generated incredible numbers and landed him a coveted trophy that he later mimicked in the Rose Bowl. He finished with a school-record 18 touchdown catches that season, but it could have been so much more.

"My coach cost me a Heisman," Bailey said jokingly.

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 10 of this throwback series, when the Huskies traveled to Oregon State and clinched a Rose Bowl berth and the then-Pac-10 title.

That November day in Corvallis, a winless Oregon State team came out in all-black uniforms trying to change its fortunes. It didn't resonate with the Huskies.

"They were trying to show off," said Lincoln Kennedy, Husky All-American offensive tackle. "We told them to take those uniforms off."

Clinching the Rose Bowl, the Huskies would later share in roses that were passed out on the sideline, posing with them for photos and smelling them during a brief celebratory moment. 

Way before that happened, the UW's leading receiver was alerting his family members of his halftime predicament.

"I remember waving to them at halftime and saying, 'Go home, I'm not going to play anymore,' " Bailey said. "They drove up. I said, 'This is it. Let's celebrate when we get home.' "

Oh, the travails of being on a national championship team. 

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