Doug Robinson: The forgotten quarterback of BYU will finally be enshrined in Hall of Fame

Published: Wednesday, Sept. 21 2011 10:05 p.m. MDT

BYU announced this week that it will induct Gary Sheide into the school's Hall of Fame.

That's nice. Just one question: What took them so long?

Sheide's career ended in 1974 — and they're just getting around to putting him in the Hall? Was there a filing problem? A clerical error?

Does Sheide deserve to be in the Hall? Duh. Was there ever even a debate, yet alone one that took 37 years?

Sheide will be introduced as an inductee during halftime of Friday's BYU-Central Florida game. He will be officially inducted at a ceremony the following day, thus correcting a ridiculous oversight.

"One of the guys from the Cougar Club called and asked me to send in some stuff and they'd consider me," says Sheide.

Are they kidding? Gary Sheide had to submit his credentials? Memo to Cougar Club: Try reading a newspaper. Here are Sheide's credentials:

Winner of the 1974 Sammy Baugh Trophy, awarded annually to the nation's best passer.

Eighth in the 1974 Heisman Trophy balloting (with 12 first-place votes), the highest finish of any BYU player to that point and two places better than Cal's Steve Bartkowski, the first-team All-America quarterback that year.

MVP of the Western Athletic Conference.

Led BYU to the conference championship and a No. 15 national ranking.

Led BYU to its first bowl invitation ever.

Ranked No. 2 in the nation in passing in both 1973 and 1974, losing by one pass completion as a senior to Bartkowski, the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft (Sheide was the second quarterback drafted).

Passed for 4,524 yards and 45 touchdowns in two seasons on just 594 attempts (his successors would throw more than 400 passes in just one season), completing 60 percent of his attempts.

Sheide is The Forgotten Quarterback at BYU. He is to BYU quarterbacks what Ringo Starr was to the Beatles. Everyone remembers Nielsen, Wilson, McMahon, Young, Bosco, etc., but without Sheide none of those guys becomes a star and maybe the LaVell Edwards Era never happens.

It all started with Sheide, although someone forgot to tell BYU. When I wrote about this subject in 2000, I called Edwards, who was just ending his career as BYU's coach. Apparently, he wasn't convinced that Sheide was forgotten because when I asked him about it, Edwards replied that Sheide had been included in a painting of BYU's great quarterbacks, which was hanging on the back wall of his office. As Edwards was saying this, he turned in his chair to give the painting a closer inspection.

"Wait, he's not in the picture," he said. "There's McMahon, Young, Detmer, Wilson, Bosco, Nielsen, ... but he's not in there."

The painting had been unveiled at a ceremony a couple years earlier, and all the old greats were invited to be honored. But not Sheide.

Now jump ahead to 2010. BYU hosted the so-called "Y. Quarterback Weekend" to honor BYU's great quarterbacks as part of a fund-raising event. It included, among other things, a golf tournament, a banquet and a halftime ceremony. The honorees were Steve Young, Jim McMahon, Steve Sarkisian, Robbie Bobsoe, Ty Detmer, Marc Wilson, Virgil Carter and Gifford Nielsen. But no Sheide. He received an invitation — to buy a ticket and attend the banquet like everybody else.

Deseret News columnist Lee Benson wrote about that snub and quoted Edwards saying this about Sheide: "He was one of the great ones; in my mind he's in the same category as all of them." Sheide thinks Benson's column is probably the reason BYU has finally decided to induct him into the Cougar Hall of Fame.

"I think Lee stirred the pot," says Sheide. "I loved it. Maybe that got the ball rolling."

Benson should know something about the subject. He wrote a book about BYU quarterbacks in 1988 — "And They Came to Pass." The first chapter was about Sheide.

Even before taking over as head coach, Edwards had determined that the only way the Cougars could win consistently was via the pass. During his first year, he used a running attack to utilize the skills of Pete Van Valkenburg, the nation's leading rusher, and the Cougars had a rare winning season (7-4). But a year later, he installed a pass attack with Sheide at quarterback. That launched the Cougars into a new era of winning football teams and prolific quarterbacks; they've never been the same since then. Sheide was the test pilot that proved the air game could win games.

Now, nearly four decades later, the school has finally decided to induct him into its Hall of Fame. Sheide, a junior high P.E. teacher and business owner who lives in Highland, is clearly pleased by this turn of events. He has invited family members, friends and former teammates for the event, including former receivers Jay Miller and John Betham. Edwards will introduce him.

This time he won't have to pay to get in.

email: drob@desnews.com

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