With Ty Detmer's selection Saturday evening as the 1990 Heisman Trophy winner - representing the top player in college football - many Brigham Young University players and fans have not only a reason to celebrate, but may feel a sense of vindication as well.
Under Coach LaVell Edwards, BYU quarterbacks have virtually rewritten the NCAA record book over the years and have become nationally known. In the process, BYU football has enjoyed enormous success, becoming one of the winningest teams in the country. However, despite BYU's being ranked among the top teams in polls nearly every year, including a 1984 national championship, respect has been slow in coming and previous record-setting BYU players have never won the Heisman.Since the Heisman voting by the nation's sports writers is in many respects a popularity contest rather than exact science, finishing less than first in the Heisman is no disgrace. But winning a Heisman does carry an implied recognition that a school has a major-league football program.
Detmer's choice as the Heisman winner brings not only acclaim to the soft-spoken junior, but also to his teammates. Because football is a team sport, Detmer's success is an outgrowth of how well the Cougars played as well as his own performance. In addition, the winning of the Heisman brings some measure of long-overdue credit to BYU itself, some reflected glory to the state of Utah, and also to the entire Western Athletic Conference.
Before the Heisman announcement, and with a late Saturday game against Hawaii still to go, Detmer had 10,681 career passing yards, 23 straight 300-yard games, the best career passing efficiency mark in NCAA history, and 22 straight games with a touchdown pass. He owned 19 NCAA records and was tied for six more. He needs just 747 yards to become college football's all-time leader in total offense. With 131 yards passing at Hawaii, he would be the first quarterback in NCAA history to break the 5,000-yard barrier in a single season.
For Detmer, the team, and BYU, congratulations are in order. And, since success tends to breed additional success, the Heisman may make it easier to attract more of the best football talent in the nation to BYU in the future.