Five days after being announced as the winner, BYU's Ty Detmer was literally awarded the Heisman Trophy here Thursday night, officially becoming the 56th recipient of the annual award given to the country's most outstanding collegiate football player.
Flanked by more than a third of the 55 Heisman winners who have preceded him, and by a dinner crowd in excess of 2,000 at a ballroom in the Marriott Marquis hotel in Times Square, Detmer was presented his own personal Heisman Trophy by C. Peter Lambos, president of the Downtown Athletic Club."This has been an overwhelming night," said Detmer in his acceptance speech. He reminisced back to 1977, when he was a youngster growing up in San Antonio, Texas, and watched on television as Earl Campbell of the University of Texas won that year's Heisman Trophy.
"That's all anyone in Texas talked about that year," he said. "That's when I first became aware of the Heisman Trophy. I was in awe of it then. I'm still in awe. It's just great to be a part of it."
Detmer assured the audience that he will return for his senior year next season at BYU, and not enter the NFL. "I know Andre Ware said that last year, and then didn't come back," he said, referring to the University of Houston quarterback who won the Heisman as a junior in 1989 and then turned pro. "But I'm Ty Detmer and I'm coming back next year."
That being the case, he has the opportunity to become only the second player in history to win two Heisman Trophies. Ohio State's Archie Griffin won back-to-back Heismans in 1974 and 1975.
Thursday night's official Heisman Memorial Trophy Award Ceremonies featured a star-studded lineup of speakers. The keynote address was delivered by former Michigan coach Bo Schembechler, while former Heisman winners Doug Flutie (1984), John Cappelletti (1973) and Campbell (1977) offered remarks. Also, BYU president Rex Lee and BYU football coach LaVell Edwards made short speeches and Don Criqui of NBC oversaw the program as master of ceremonies.
The three-tiered dais was well stocked with celebrities. Featured were nearly two dozen former Heisman winners, as well as other faces from the world of sports, including NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue, and football greats (and non-Heisman winner) Jim Brown, Kyle Rote and Jim Taylor.
Flutie advised Detmer to "sit back, relax, and try to enjoy all of this - and realize that you're now part of the Heisman family." Cappelletti said, "It's been 17 years since my award. I can't believe it. I'm sure it will go by as quickly for you, so enjoy it now."
Campbell told Detmer, "We in Texas are very, very proud of you, just as they are in Utah." He patted the trophy in front of him on the rostrum and added, "And realize that this little fella will do more for you than you can ever do for it."
Schembechler said the Heisman Trophy is symbolic of teamwork. "There is no single award higher than the team," he said. "So how does the Heisman Trophy fit in? It identifies the best football player in America, and gives everyone who plays a chance to identify with that player and his qualities."
"The thing that please me the most," Lee told the audience, "is Ty Detmer is not only the best college football player in America, he is the kind of total, complete student we want all of our students at Brigham Young University to be."
"Because you've been so nice to us," continued the BYU president, "I've reached the conclusion that we'd really like to do business with you again."
In sober remarks, Edwards paid tribute to the tribute.
"No one in this room can appreciate the honor that has not only come to BYU but to football in our area of the country," he said. "This is overpowering. To have this happen is one of the great experiences that we at BYU have ever had."
"To finally have one (a BYU quarterback) win the Heisman, I truly believe it's a tribute to each one who laid the groundwork and came before," said Edwards. Of Detmer he said, "He is just what you see: one of the most genuine and one of the most popular people you'd ever want to meet - and he is one of the best football players you'll ever see. He is a tough competitor and executes our offense marvelousy. You can't say enough about what Ty Detmer has done for our football team."
"Of all the great things I can say about Ty Detmer," Edwards said in conclusion, "the greatest is that he has a year left of eligibility."
Detmer was given a standing ovation as he rose to receive the trophy from Lambos.
"I can't think of a better place to be the first week of December than right here," he said in response. "I hope to maybe see you all next year. Thank you very much."