Editor’s note: This year marks the 30-year anniversary of BYU quarterback Ty Detmer winning the Heisman Trophy. Detmer was awarded college football’s highest individual honor on Dec. 1, 1990. This story was originally published by the Deseret News on Dec. 4, 1990.
It was “The Ty Detmer Victory Tour Turned Homecoming” as the BYU quarterback and 1990 Heisman Trophy winner made his first “official” appearances Monday on campus and in Provo as the newly crowned nation’s top collegiate football player.
And while Detmer has brought back the lofty honor to BYU, the state of Utah and the Intermountain West in general, massive national media attention hasn’t quite followed in its wake. Of course, playing a game in Honolulu five time zones away from the Downtown Athletic Club, where Saturday’s Heisman announcement was delivered, made Detmer somewhat inaccessible. So does residing in the Rocky Mountain region — the black hole of U.S. media exposure.
If you’re keeping score at home, here’s how Detmer’s post-Heisman “exposure” has unfolded. The networks, national publications and wire services either had representatives shadowing him in Honolulu or attending Saturday’s Heisman ceremonies in New York City. Sports Illustrated has a major spread planned for this week’s issue, although Detmer could be bumped off the cover by the San Francisco 49ers’ 7-3 triumph over the New York Giants in Monday night NFL action.
Other opportunities Monday quickly faded — “The Today Show” canceled a requested interview; “Good Morning America” withdrew plans for a live shot with Detmer in favor reportedly of increased Persian Gulf coverage; WFAN — New York City’s renowned sports radio station — took a raincheck because its time slot interfered with Detmer’s morning class schedule; and the New York Daily News put an interview on hold when its writer was left stuck in Minneapolis due to flight delays.
That meant that most of Detmer’s Monday was given for the locals — the local media in an early afternoon news conference at Cougar Stadium and the local fans in a rally later outside the stadium. It was hard to figure which group served as a more gushing audience — the several thousand celebrating “Ty Detmer Day” with speeches and bonfires and the like, or some of the media types who were heard asking for autographs and dinner dates.
“As long as people have fun with it, I can live with it,” said Detmer, who was dressed casually in a button-down Oxford shirt and blue jeans and seemed worlds away from his scheduled VIP tour Wednesday of New York City and Heisman press conference and black-tie awards banquet Thursday.
Considering a limo-laden first-ever visit to the Big Apple, Detmer seemed somewhat unimpressed. “I’d just as soon be riding in a pickup truck,” said the Cougar quarterback, who had scrambled to the sanctuary of the mountains by spending most of Sunday in the Thistle area with a few select friends and an early Christmas present — a 7-week-old golden retriever pup.
Detmer will be doing a little more globe-trotting after the Heisman festivities in New York City. From there, he flies to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to participate in ceremonies honoring The Associated Press All-America Team, which is to be announced Tuesday. And then, it’s on to Cincinnati for another, yet-to-be-announced-officially major award.
No, the latter isn’t the Davey O’Brien Award, given annually to the nation’s top collegiate quarterback. “We’ve still got our fingers crossed on that one,” said BYU sports information director Ralph Zobell.
Despite all the travel during the next week-plus, Detmer said he’s made the necessary arrangements with his teachers regarding the upcoming final exams of the fall semester. As for the grade he would himself on his on-the-field performance this season, Detmer put himself on the “honors” roll. “I won the Heisman, so it must be an `A,’” he said.
In terms of the NCAA hit parade, Detmer has broken 29 passing or total-offense records and tied four others — at least as of Monday’s latest count.
“We’re still trying to confirm more with the NCAA,” said Zobell.
Since bowl statistics aren’t included in season or career statistics (BYU plays Texas A&M in the Sea World Holiday Bowl on Dec. 29), Detmer finished the 1990 season with the following numbers — 562 attempted passes, 361 completions, 28 interceptions, 41 passing touchdowns, 4 rushing touchdowns, 5,188 passing yards, 5,022 total-offense yards and a 155.9 pass-efficiency rating. He will finish the year second among the NCAA national leaders in both pass efficiency and total offense.
For his career, the junior quarterback has thrown for 86 touchdowns and exactly 11,000 yards en route to a 160.7 efficiency rating.
Other Detmer ditties gleaned from Monday’s made-for-the-media appearance:
- On the need for a similar Heisman promotional effort next year during his senior season. “I don’t think we’ll need one next year — this year has been good enough. ... We don’t need to keep it quiet, but I’m not going out (next year) to play for the Heisman.”
- On BYU’s 59-28 loss at Hawaii after Saturday afternoon’s Heisman announcement: “Nobody talks about it now — everybody talks about the Heisman. It’s not just another award. It’s the biggest award in college football . ... It takes some of the sting out of the loss. You can forget about it a little quicker.”
- On his goals for next year. “Fewer interceptions.”
- On BYU’s history of heralded quarterbacks who didn’t win a Heisman. “They did the dirty work and we’re getting the reward. If I were them, I’d be a little jealous.”
- On if Heisman voters might be reconsidering their ballots following the lopsided loss to Hawaii. “It’s over; it’s done with — they can’t take it back.”