John Heisman, the inventor of football's forward pass, may now rest in peace. A quarterback from Brigham Young University - also known as Pass U., and the school that perfected his invention - finally won the award named for him.
The Downtown Athletic Club awarded Ty Detmer the Heisman Trophy as the country's top collegiate football player during a nationally televised ceremony Saturday.Detmer proclaimed it as a victory not only for himself, but also for BYU, the state of Utah and especially the other great Brigham Young quarterbacks who never won the award.
"I think they kind of set the way for us. . . . They got the recognition that set everything off. And now its coming true for BYU and all of Utah," Detmer told reporters in New York via satellite from Honolulu, where he was preparing for a late-night game against Hawaii.
Detmer won a solid 305-point victory, with 1,482 points compared with 1,177 for second-place Raghib Ismail, a Notre Damerunning back. Detmer also finished first in every region of the country.
Detmer was chosen by a group of 870 sports journalists and 47 former Heisman winners, who submitted ballots with their first, second and third choices. Detmer received 316 first-place votes, 208 for second place and 118 for third.
Besides becoming BYU's first Heisman winner, he also becomes the first from a school in the Mountain States and only the eighth from the Far West. He also becomes the 10th junior to win the award in its 56-year history.
Even though the two other most recent winners - Houston's Andre Ware in 1989 and Oklahoma State's Barry Sanders in 1988 - were also juniors, they did not try for a second Heisman in their senior years because they turned professional.
But Detmer vowed, "I'll be back next year. . . . I'm committed." Only one person has ever won two Heisman awards - Ohio State's Archie Griffin in 1974 and 1975.
Detmer - wearing a golf shirt and lei - watched on television in Hawaii as his name was announced. He thrust his passing arm into the air in victory and received hugs from Coach LaVell Edwards and BYU Athletic Director Glenn Tuckett as surrounding teammates cheered. His parents in Texas hugged and kissed.
Why did Detmer feel he won?
"I think we put up the numbers every week. We were consistent. We're No. 4 in the nation. We just had a great year. Everything just fell into place for us," he said.
As Detmer said, he has been consistent, with 23 consecutive games with over 300 yards passing. In his college career, Detmer has thrown passes for about six miles worth of yardage - 10,681 yards - with 4,869 of it coming this year, not counting the late game with Hawaii.
About the many BYU quarterbacks who finished in the top 10 in Heisman balloting without winning - Gary Sheide, Gifford Nielson, Marc Wilson, Jim McMahon, Steve Young and Robbie Bosco - Detmer said, "They had great seasons, and a couple of them maybe should have won it."
He added that maybe playing out West with its few media outlets and in the perceived-to-be-weak Western Athletic Conference hurt them. "But our image is improving now," he said.
Among the people who Detmer impressed during the year was second-place finisher "Rocket" Ismail. "I would have voted for Detmer," he told reporters.
He added they met last summer, and he feels Detmer is "a very nice person. I like him a lot."
Another person impressed with Detmer is third-place finisher Eric Bieniemy of Colorado. "I played against him two years ago in the Freedom Bowl. He came in and - I hate to say this - but he destroyed us. There's no doubt, he is a great quarterback and a great athlete."
While Detmer could not attend ceremonies Saturday - and became the third consecutive winner to accept via satellite - he will come to New York Wednesday and Thursday for a dance and dinner honoring him at the Downtown Athletic Club.
He also will have several busy days with interviews already scheduled on "The Today Show" and "Good Morning America."
Besides winning a Heisman Trophy for himself, Detmer also wins a copy of the 25-pound, 13-inch high bronze statue for BYU to display at the school. His name also will be inscribed on the copy of the Heisman statue in the lobby of the Downtown Athletic Club.
Detmer said he was glad the whole ordeal of waiting was finally over. "I had the worst week I've probably ever had, just sitting around and waiting."
He added that the hardest part of all would be facing Hawaii in the late-night game. "There will be real pressure tonight. I have to go out and prove I deserve it."
Detmer won the award even though two other quarterbacks who were finalists had better statistics in some key areas - but could have changed with numbers coming from the late-night Hawaii game.
Moore was ahead of Detmer in passing efficiency by a point, 160.7 to 159.7.
And fifth-place finisher David Klingler of Houston led Detmer in passing yardage and touchdowns - thanks to a phenomenal game against Arizona State in Tokyo Friday, where he threw for 716 yards and seven touchdowns.