BYU's Breakthrough Quarterback
1990 Heisman winner Ty Detmer
The 1990 Heisman Trophy award marked a first and, so far, a last.
It was the first Heisman for a player from Brigham Young University. To date it is the last for a player from a team outside the elite six Football Bowl Subdivision conferences.
The BYU annals are filled with quarterback heroes -- prolific passers dating from the early 1970s (Gary Sheide) to the current day (Max Hall). But only one has won the Heisman.
His name is Ty Detmer, and he might be the least physically impressive of all the Cougar greats -- barely 6 feet tall and 183 pounds. But by the time his career was over in Provo, Utah, Detmer had set NCAA records for passing attempts (1,530), completions (958), yards (15,031) and touchdown passes (121). And in 1990 he entered a unique place in BYU lore when he won the Heisman.
Jim McMahon went on to win a Super Bowl but couldn't win the Heisman, finishing fifth in 1980 and third in '81. Steve Young wound up in the NFL Hall of Fame, but was a runner-up for the 1983 Heisman. Robbie Bosco led BYU to its only national title but was third in the 1984 and 1985 voting.
Detmer broke through, outpointing Notre Dame receiver and return specialist Raghib Ismail. Detmer, the son of a high school football coach from south Texas, grew up playing fierce one-on-one games with younger brother Koy -- himself a future college and NFL QB -- then went on to produce what at the time was the greatest statistical passing season in NCAA history.
He threw for 5,188 yards and 41 touchdowns during his junior season, when the Cougars went 10-2 in the regular season. His signature win was an upset of No. 1-ranked Miami in Provo, 28-21, in which he threw for 406 yard and three touchdowns.
Since Detmer left New York with the Heisman, no player from outside the so-called big six conferences (Atlantic Coast, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Pacific-10 and Southeastern) has won the award. This will mark the 19th straight year that the putative "little guys" have been left out.
-- Pat Forde