Ranking the best season by a quarterback in BYU history

Published: Tuesday, Aug. 26 2014 10:56 p.m. MDT

BYU has been known as a quarterback factory for the better part of four decades, and for good reason. Those four decades have provided some of the best years in school history. They have led BYU to incredible seasons on the grid iron as a team and helped to propel the Cougars into the national spotlight.

Along the way, the great BYU signal callers have received plenty of recognition on both the conference and national level. There have been conference player of the year awards, All-American seasons,Sammy Baugh and Davey O'Brien trophies for the nation's best quarterback and even a Heisman Trophy.

While most of the quarterbacks have done most of the damage through the air, some have also done serious work with their legs. Both skill sets were taken into account when ranking each season as well as team success and individual awards. It is also important to know that while stats played a role in these rankings, it was more important how each player fared in relation to his peers because the game has changed so much.

Here is a look at the best of the best of those seasons.

All rankings in conference and national leaderboards are from Sports-reference.com. All award information, school records and NCAA records are from BYUCougars.com.

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South Jordan, UT

Thanks for the great journey down memory lane with these outstanding quarterbacks at BYU. It brought back many memories. We watched Ty Detmer many times in his glory days and loved his efficiency in passing. We have watched John Beck's spectacular pass dozens of times to Johnny Harlein in the end zone in the last 3 seconds of the Utah game to win that game. Also, the Miracle Bowl of the comeback of Jim McMahon's unbelievable finish in the last minutes of that game in 1980. We loved the spunk and determination of Max Hall and wished he had gone farther in the NFL. It was so fun to see how far Steve Young went in his NFL career and the positive influence he had for the Mormon Church.

Thanks to LaVelle Edwards for initiating the passing game in the first place years ago at BYU and for all the memories in the ensuing seasons and to all these great quarterbacks at BYU.

Good luck to Taysom Hill as he joins the ranks of these great players. I hope he has a great season as he is a great young man and quarterback and a wonderful leader of this team.

Go Cougars!

Danbury, CT

Two years stand out as the best:

1984 for Bosco and 1996 for Sarkisian. Bosco led BYU to a great win on the road vs. a good Pitt team that the year before had Marino and went to the Orange Bowl. He played an amazing game vs. Michigan when everything was on the line and came back from injury. I was there in the Holiday Bowl.

Sarkisian also played an amazing season despite a season opening loss to UW. He led the team to their biggest bowl victory ever vs. a very good KSU team.

Young also had a great year in 1983 beating UCLA and started a 24 game win streak that continued into Bosco's '84 season. The loss to Baylor wasn't Young's fault as we had no defense that game.

I don't give as much weight to the wins over weak WAC teams including Utah, Wyoming or SDSU. What matters is wins vs. quality nationally ranked programs. It would be nice if we started winning again vs. top teams. That will be the difference in the end.

Mike W
Syracuse, UT

I rarely agree with these lists, but in this case I think they got it just about spot-on, at least the top 3, which to me stand out above the others. I still contend that Detmer's win over Miami is the biggest in the school's history.

Jared from CT

In front of every great QB is a great O line. I'm a bit biased, having played offensive guard in high school, but I'll bet that every time a BYU QB has had a stellar season, he's had a great offensive line. Sounds like this year's O line might be good, if so, Taysom Hill and the Cougars will have a great season. If not, we're looking at another mediocre year.

Herrmian, UT

Agree with Jared... Sometimes you can have such a good offensive line that a Ketchup Bottle playing quarterback will look good. On the other hand, a poor O-Line can crush your team. Nobody can run and nobody can pass when defenders are in your face.

Who am I sir?
Cottonwood Heights, UT

The day before college football begins and two days before BYU's first game and what do we get in the way of media coverage? Another list. Another article ranking which player/team/coach/Director of Football Operations/ contributed the most - always the majority of which were games played between 1970 and 1990. Incredible.

Captain L
Provo, UT

I agree with Jared, hope this O line can be great, loved remembering all those QB's and the great fun it was watching and listening to those games. Hill has the potential to be as good as any of those QB's but he will have to prove he can be a pass first QB and not tuck and run when ever he gets nervous. Young became a Hall of Fame QB in the NFL because he focused on being a great passer, he lead the league in proficiency several years in a row and only used his legs when he absolutley had to, that is what I am hoping to see from Hill and I hope it doesn't take him all of his Jr year to learn it.

Burley, ID

Eastcoastcoug: You are very wrong with a couple of key facts in your comment. Number one the game between UW Huskies and BYU was actually BYU's 3rd game of the season. I was at the game and a great back named Cory Dillon and a very good UW Defense won the game for the Huskies. Your making it the first game of the year makes it sound like BYU wasn't quite ready for the season and that they then ran off 14 wins in a row. I think you are trying to rewrite football history to make yourself feel good.

Number two the 1984 Pitt team you want to credit as a good team, since Dan Marino was on the team the year before, just doesn't fit. The 1984 Panthers won 4 games, tied 1 and lost 7. Doesn't matter if they had a great player or great season the year before, this Pitt team stunk! BYU can take no big credit for beating this team, even if it was on the road. BYU can take credit for helping cause their poor season, but that is it. Rewatch the 1984 Holiday Bowl and remember Michigan was a 5 loss team coming into the game, not really a huge bragging point!

SLC, ut

No disrespect to Scheide who was very good, but the first of the great quarterbacks at the Y was was Virgil Carter, who went on to play pro ball also. He won the Y's first conference championship.

Mesa, AZ

Dear Fellow Readers:

Time for a Big Group Hug for Who Am I Sir and other Bleeding Utes who are being made to suffer through another article recounting four decades of Heisman Trophy-Winning, Davey Brien Award-Winning, Maxwell Award-Winning, Super Bowl-Winning, National Championship-Winning, All-American BYU Cougar Quarterbacks. He rightfully points out in his post that the text of this article is unnecessarily and cruelly dragging him through a painful recounting of BYU QB national awards and records in passing touchdowns, total offense, and pass efficiency - many of which still stand in the record books, and some of which were set over his beloved Utes. Please, folks, he probably had to personally witness at least some of this. Four decades! MERCY !!!!

Incredible, Indeed! And here we thought this guy was Red and White because he's a Ute. Not so! The poor devil has been singed red by the fires of Dante's Inferno, through his suffering! Stop the presses, the poor man has had enough. Sorry, Sir, please forgive the misdirected soul at the DesNews that wrote this. And we promise not to read the next such article, to stand in solidarity with your suffering!!!


Salt Lake City, UT

I will join you in your boycott. However I will up the stakes by agreeing to a great sacrifice.
I for one will agree not to read any Utah articles about their National award winners, their statistical records, their All American QB's, their Hall of fame players and their National championship in the future if he agrees not to read any more BYU stories.

There! Now we're even.

Who am I sir?
Cottonwood Heights, UT

"Please, folks, he probably had to personally witness at least some of this. Four decades! MERCY !!!!"

Right on. I did have to personally witness not some but all "four decades"! Actually the only difficult period was the two decades 1970 to 1990. Other than that it was a pleasure to watch the past two decades and to appreciate the entire history before 1970. During this period of time the record is 47 wins; 9 loses; and 4 ties. "80%" BYU's history of success really is a 20 year period that ended 24 years ago!.

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