It’s been a spring like no other for Ty Detmer.
For many summers prior he’s been on his ranch near Austin, Texas, tending to his thousand-acre hunting refuge, a job he really get his boots into. But since his hire as BYU’s offensive coordinator and quarterback coach, it’s been airports, hotels, high school gyms, fan fests, firesides, speeches, handshakes and pats on the back.
At a golf tournament at Alpine Country Club in May, Detmer had barely put his golf bag on a golf cart when a guy rushed up to him, grabbed his hand, pumped it like a well handle and told him how much he admired him, followed him, was so happy he was at BYU, that he was his hero and … well, how great it was going to be with him coaching.
Detmer deadpanned, “Well, we haven’t played a game yet.”
Last Monday at Hidden Valley Country Club during the Kidney Foundation Charity event, before he teed off, during the round and after he finished his final hole, people walked up and asked for autographs or photos.
If you try to interview him outside a closed press setting, there’s a competition with walk-up well-wishers, who either want a photo op or something signed.
With patience, kindness and remarkable perseverance, Detmer obliges all.
Deer on his ranch only rose their furry heads and stared.
This is what 15,000 yards and 121 touchdowns brings you, notoriety without end.
Detmer finally got back to a little football this week with summer camps spread across BYU’s campus in Provo.
“The firesides, the fan fests, they’ve all been good experiences,” said Detmer this week. “Whenever there’re changes, there’s excitement and people voice that,” he said.
And it hasn’t been hard to share the enthusiasm?
“No, not at all,” Detmer said about trips to Hawaii, Arizona, California and two sites in Utah. “We’ve probably traveled more than most with firesides and fan fests, but that’s what makes BYU special. The fans love it and enjoy it, and that’s why we do it.”
Meanwhile, a daunting schedule that starts with Arizona, Utah and Boise State on the road looms on the horizon. It’s a schedule listed by some as one of the toughest in college football.
“That’s the part that’s still out there right now,” he said. “This is great, but we’re living in Oz right now. “
This week, summer camps gobbled up the agenda. Detmer, his boss Kalani Sitake and other staff did play golf at Hidden Valley while the rest kicked off the official BYU football camp. Detmer said he felt a little guilty swinging a club and couldn’t wait to join the others. He and other Cougar coaches also made appearances at the annual Poly Camp in Layton.
“I tell people all the time I’m shocked at how little football I’ve actually done. The recruiting part, the firesides, the fan fests, but just 15 days of football is actually what we’ve done so far. I can’t wait for August to get here and things to settle down and focus on just football.”
Asked about the recovery efforts of senior quarterback Taysom Hill, Detmer said he has seen him running around, doing more and more. “He’s fine. There is no rush to get him doing anything like making cuts and more running right now. To be honest, I haven’t been in town enough to see what he’s doing. I do know he’s feeling pretty good.”
Sitake said he saw Hill dunking a basketball a few times. “I had to tell him to quit doing that,” said the head coach.
Detmer said he and his wife Kim are renting a house in Mapleton until they figure out where they want to be.
Mapleton is horse country, a beautiful, big-lot township south of Springville. But Detmer isn’t looking to deal with horses in Mapleton on his rental property.
“No, horses cost too much to feed,” said Detmer. “Owning a horse is like owning a boat; it’s better to know people who have a boat and better to know someone who has a horse.”
This is how summer has begun for the former Heisman Trophy winner. Fans want him to throw passes to them, BYU officials love the enthusiasm he and Sitake have kindled. The game and reality of the rigors it will take in coming months linger above it all, and they know it.
So far, Detmer is handling it, doing so with class, deploying the mantle of ambassadorship with a style he’s always had. Sitake’s doing the same; it has become their strength as a staff.
But like Detmer says, there will come a time football will dominate every waking hour.