Nineteen years removed from the 1991 National Championship season, some Husky fans see the 1991 team as almost mythical. For many young Husky fans it was before their time. But anyone who calls themselves a true Husky fan, or a college football fan in general is familiar with this dominant team.
In the 1991 Rose Bowl, the Huskies beat the Michigan Wolverines to share the National Championship with the University of Miami. The Dawgs went 12-0 and dominated a strong Pac-10 conference. They outscored their opponents by 380 points, and their defense only allowed 115 points.
The Husky defense was tenacious. Led by Steve Emtman, the Lombardi Award winner, the Huskies stopped opposing offenses in their tracks. Five members of the defense were selected in the 1992 draft (Steve Emtman, Dana Hall, Donald Jones, Brett Collins, Chico Fraley ).
Critics questioned the strength of the offense because of Mark Brunell’s spring injury, but back-up Billy Joe Hobert took the helm and ended up becoming the Rose Bowl’s co-MVP with Steve Emtman. Hobert’s favorite target, Mario Bailey, who is the career leader in touchdown receptions at Washington, became one of the six offensive players drafted in the 1992 draft (Ed Cunningham, Siupeli Malamala, Aaron Pierce, Orlando McKay, Mario Bailey, Kris Rongen).
Great players, though, are often just a group of individuals without a great coach. The legend and member of the College Football Hall of Fame, Don James, meshed the Huskies into one of the greatest teams in the history of college football. He won coach of the year, and eventually was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
20 Years Later…
As Head Coach Steve Sarkisian’s Huskies fight to reestablish greatness of the Huskies, the coaching staff and players must look to the players of the 1991 team for inspiration. There is no doubt Jermaine Kearse looks towards Mario Bailey, or that Sark aspires to help return national attention to the UW like Don James did. When there is such a perfect model of success in UW’s own history, it is hard for current Huskies not to dream of similar greatness.
When Seattle sports fans point to their finest hours, they point to every moment of this famed season. The memories bring smiles to the Husky faithful, and are source of pride for Seattle.