Ty Detmer won it for Jim McMahon. And for Steve Young, Marc Wilson and Robbie Bosco.
Detmer won it for all those great Brigham Young quarterbacks who posted eye-popping numbers, yet were slighted because only a few eyes ever saw them. If Brigham Young were situated in Notre Dame, Ind., the school probably would have two or three Heisman Trophies by now.Saturday, Detmer picked up BYU's first, with a surprisingly easy win over the runner-up, Notre Dame's Raghib Ismail. With the coveted Heisman Trophy finally in the school's grasp, the latest in the line of great quarterbacks shared the award with his predecessors.
"They all had great seasons, and a couple of them should have won it. They set the tone here," said Detmer, a junior. "It would have a devastating blow to BYU if we hadn't won it this year. Now we finally have it."
Ultimately, it was statistics over style for Detmer. A lack of exposure didn't hurt his school this time.
Ismail had the flash and the glare of the television lights, but the voters knew all about the savvy and plucky BYU quarterback.
Detmer turned what was expected to be a close race into a rout, picking up 1,482 points and 316 first-place votes to only 1,177 and 237 for Ismail. Detmer swept all six regions of the country, including Ismail's domain in the Midwest, 234 firsts to 226.
Ismail may be college football's most exciting player, but the electorate (exact numbers weren't revealed, but an estimated 740 members of the media and former Heisman winners voted) apparently didn't think he handled the ball enough (126 all-purpose carries) to win the award. He was named on 529 ballots, meaning more than 200 voters didn't designate him either first, second or third.
Ismail, though, hardly felt slighted. In fact, the reticent junior was genuinely relieved to be done with the Heisman hoopla this year.
"I would have voted for Ty," said Ismail at the award presentation at the Downtown Athletic Club. "I saw his stats. They were good enough for me."
Detmer had passed for 4,869 yards and 38 touchdowns prior to Brigham Young's game at Hawaii Saturday, which started at 11 p.m. Chicago time. He learned of his Heisman via a satellite television hookup.
"Notre Dame's known for its Heismans, and this year didn't seem to be any different," said Detmer, who praised Ismail. "You always have to wonder about someone who plays on television every week. I couldn't worry about it. I just had to go out and do my best."
Detmer did make the most of his moment. The 6-foot, 175-pound quarterback dazzled in BYU's upset 28-21 victory over then No. 1 Miami Sept. 8 on ESPN. He riddled the Hurricane defense for 406 yards and three touchdowns.
In the process, Detmer's gutsy showing - he played with a gash on his chin and was leveled several times - offset the feeling he only could pile up his statistics against weak Western Athletic Conference teams.
Detmer, a native of Texas and the son of a high school coach, has this in common with McMahon: the ability to improvise, to make something out of nothing.