Commentary: The 15 kings of BYU football, the quarterbacks

Published: Friday, June 14 2013 10:01 a.m. MDT

#15 - Sean Covey Next » 1 of 15 « Prev
Years at BYU: 1983, 1986-89

Covey started two years in Provo and led the Cougars to two bowl games.
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Spider Rico
Greeley, CO

Good list. I would have to put Doman ahead of Feterik though. Ty Detmer - class of his own #1 consensus. Anyone beg to differ?

Layton, UT

Amazing tradition of quarterbacks.

It should be:
1. Young
2. McMahon
3. Detmer
4. Bosco

Go Utes.

Salt Lake City, UT

Yet again this brings up the fact that BYU needs to get McMahon done with his schooling. I know he has memory issues or something, but he cannot be that long gone can he? I mean what classes are keeping him from graduating....Intro to the LDS Church? Jimmy Mac needs to be in the BYU Hall of Fame.

Naval Vet
Philadelphia, PA


I would put it this way....

1. McMahon
2. Young
3. Detmer
4. Wilson
5. Sarkisian

Layton, UT


I agree, he should be inducted with an *, or what ever it takes.

@Naval Vet

Bosco should be in the top 5 for his undeafeated season and *NC.

"The Chow"
Sandy, UT

Thanks for the stroll down memory lane. The QB's have certainly left us with quite a legacy at BYU. They always made the football games exciting to watch. My vote would go to McMahon as #1.

Plano, TX

McMahon - Wilson - Young - Detmer (college experience for BYU) While Nielsen is a great guy through the years, many QBs were better than him - including I think Sheide. (I know that set of 4 players in person from the field). Quite honestly, none of the rest were all that exceptional other than being the good system QB, and their experiences post college prove it.

West Point , UT

In terms of numbers and awards I think Ty is number one. My list:
1) Ty Detmer
2) Steve Young
3) Jim McMahon
4) Marc Wislon
5) Robbie Bosco

I like your list too, Nav. I think Sarkisian led the best Cougar team of all time and deserves to be higher than #11.

Kearns, UT

How is Steve Young ranked behind Robbie Bosco?

Young was a better all-around quarterback. Simply because Bosco led BYU to a National Championship? The toughness of that schedule, and particularly of the Michigan team they played has been debated again and again. Bosco shouldn't be ranked ahead of Young simply on that basis.

This is how I would rank the top 5:
1. Detmer
2. McMahon
3. Young
4. Wilson
5. Bosco

Gold Canyon, az

Here is a list from an fanatic cougarfan since the late 70's. What may make my list different is that I have included Ryan Hancock '92 at 9. He had a great arm and a great future both in football and baseball which ended late in the BYU Utah game due to a cheap shot near the sideline. I talked to his brother afterwards who informed me of the injury. I guess that gives me a bias but we all have those. I also included backups Blaine Fowler and James Lark who would be on these lists if they would have been allowed to play instead of the injured starters. I ranked Virgil Carter low since I never saw him play.
1. Young (no one one better than his Sr year)
2. McMahon (awesome as a jr but dropped as a Sr)
3. Detmer (unfortunate last ill advised pass/interception in the last game vs IA)
4. Wilson (perhaps greatest team ever in 79, save one kick)
5. Bosco (Jr year speaks for itself. Lost ground his sr year)
6. Nielson (unfortunate broken leg his Sr Year)
7. Hall (great leader and player from the get go)
8. Sarkisian (accurate passer. His last year was BYU's 2nd best and the Y's last great year)
9. Ryan Hancock (strong arm, came on the scene after several injured QBs before. Most sad ending)
10. Sheide (barely remember him, but could be said he is the one that got it all rolling).
11. Doman (Sr year compared with Steve Young's Jr year. With Staley and McDonald--remember him?- in the backfield that offense was a beauty. Won't hold his coaching against him, ha ha!)
12. James Lark (playing behind a QB with a broken back who can't throw when healthy? The time he did play speaks for itself, only if . . . )
13. Blaine Fowler (should have played more his Sr Year when Bosco was injured. Played very well when he was given the opportunity, especially under pressure--1984 Holiday Bowl)
14. John Beck (struggled until that BYU UT game. Too many poor memories of him when he was a FR and SO)
15. Virgil Carter (Never saw him play, not even in replays, so it is difficult to have a valid opinion. Only QB to not be under Edwards so give him credit for that ).

Tempe, AZ

1. Detmer - Heisman and record setting
2. McMahon - Hard to argue with results, but Honor Code violator (he's admitted as much)
3. Young - Really good, but I think he got even better in the NFL
4. Bosco - NC
5. Sarkisian - best BYU team (would have slaughtered the '84 team)

BYU had a golden era of football. Even though I'm not so sure about '84 and think it was the catalyst for exclusionary college football practices such as the BCS, there is no debating that BYU has been a QB factory, the last few years excluded.

The man behind it all, of course, was Edwards. Winner, classy, visionary, and trend setter.

Frisco, TX

Most agree that Detmer, Young and McMahon are top three. Shuffle them in whatever order you like, they were all amazing.

Is this list based on a single season, or their entire career? If a single season, Sarkisian deserves to be in the top 5. (First time I've ever agree with Devilish Ute and Navy Vet)

I have to admit, I was one of the faithful who thought we had another Top 5 QB in Heaps. Boy, was I disappointed. I'm hoping Hill and Mangum will be Top 10 QBs the next six years.


In my opinion there is no way Young belongs behind Bosco. Had Young been QB of that NC team, the score probably wouldn't have been close. No disrespect meant to Bosco, I simply think the body of work over his cougar career would place Young at least higher than Bosco.


The list of outstanding quarterbacks at BYU is truly impressive. BYU has a lot to be proud of with these players and their accomplishments.

Rob of NV
Las Vegas, NV

I was a BYU student during many of these great years, and remember things a little different than the author. Marc Wilson did not "mostly" split time with Gifford Nielsen and Jim McMahon. He came in for an injured Gifford Nielsen, after three games, and played the remainder of the season. He only split one season with Jim McMahon, then McMahon red-shirted. Also, the same for the dialog of Jim McMahon "mostly" splitting time with Wilson - only for one season. Then he had two complete seasons after that with no splitting of time. I guess overtime sometimes the truth fades or becomes obscured. Otherwise, a reasonable list. Doman and Covey in the top 15, perhaps. I never thought either was a great quarterback, particularly Doman, even though the stats may say otherwise. Doman had Luke Staley behind him, which helped him tremendously. The one game Luke Staley was not there, injured, BYU lost and Doman played and looked bad.

Draper, UT

I would not have put Covey or Feterik on the list. Feterik was not even the best QB on the team (maybe not even the second best), but he was Chow's boy and no one else was going to play (sound familiar? Bronco/Riley).

I'm a huge fan of both Young and McMahon, but, even without the Heisman, Detmer is the best college quarterback to ever play at BYU.

Park City, UT

Too many "youngin's" involved in this. To rank Carter as #8 is a joke! Isn't there anyone over 65 in this group...anywhere?

Henderson, NV

1. McMahon
2. Young
3. Detmer
4. Wilson
5. Sarkisian

Naval Vet, something I can agree with you about.


What about Bob Jensen

Overton, NV

Walsh should not be on this list. At least not higher than 15, anyway. I saw both him and Feterik play, and I would definitely take Feterik if I had to choose between the two.

Doman was a very fun QB to watch. Somebody stated that he looked awful without Luke Staley. True, but he was also playing for much of the season with a separated shoulder. If memory serves me, he re-injured that shoulder late in the season, which helps explain why he didn't fare so well against Hawaii and in the bowl game. Yes, losing Staley hurt, but the shoulder was a huge issue as well.

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