Dick Harmon: Reflecting on Ty Detmer's career, praise comes easy

Published: Friday, May 18 2012 7:00 p.m. MDT

"We were fortunate our defense kept BYU out of the end zone that night in San Diego, and we tied. Still, Ty passed for 350 yards. That's a lot of real estate. At times in that game, Ty literally lifted that BYU offense and they followed him like a band does a drum major — they marched."

Before facing Detmer, Fry stayed up late and watched the Cougars against San Diego State. It was a shootout that ended in an NCAA record 52-52 tie.

"Ty had suffered a cut over his eye, and when he came off the field he'd put a towel over his eye and wipe the blood away. When it came time to go on the field, he'd throw down the towel, pick up his helmet and run on the field," Fry said. "He'd do that over and over. Ty showed me he was a Texas football player. Boy, that guy has guts. When we played him, he was everything we expected to see, a gutsy playmaker and fierce competitor."

Fry took a lot of pride in Detmer. He knew his father Sonny and brother Koy.

"You'd want your son to be like Ty. You'd want your daughter to marry Ty. If you go to battle you'd want Ty Detmer in your foxhole," Fry said. "If you play against him, he's not a player you want to take lightly, I promise you."

Part of the legacy of Detmer during and after his football career is the charisma that surrounds the guy.

"The thing that made Ty marketable was his play on the field," said Val Hale, then-associate athletic director at BYU, now vice president for university relations at Utah Valley University. "The event that really launched him was the bowl game against Penn State in 1989. He had some phenomenal performances that sophomore year, but critics said he never played anybody. But that changed in the Holiday Bowl. Penn State was known for its defense under Joe Paterno.

"In that bowl game, he absolutely picked the Nittany Lion defense apart, and that night he set a national record for passing yards in a postseason game. After the game Paterno really gave some great quotes about Detmer, which we used to build a Heisman Trophy campaign that summer and set things up for the Miami game in Provo the next fall. He was on his way."

On Friday, Hale said Detmer was a PR man's dream come true. "He had that 'aw, shucks' personality and always deflected credit to his teammates. It was the kind of personality everyone, including sports writers, just loved."

email: dharmon@desnews.com twitter: Harmonwrites

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