A voter named Heisman made the choosing of the Deseret News Athlete of the Year an easy proposition.
BYU quarterback Ty Detmer, winner of college football's most prestigious award, the Heisman Trophy, is the Deseret News' choice as Utah's top amateur athlete for 1990 - the second straight year he's received the award.In a season in which BYU reached the No. 4 spot in the polls twice and had ambitions of a national championship, the wiry Texan with the pinpoint passing arm led the way. A laid-back prankster off the field, Detmer has become a folk hero to BYU fans for his on-field performances.
Once again, for the record, here's what Detmer accomplished this past year:
- He opens the 1990 football campaign with an upset victory over top-ranked Miami. In that nationally televised game, Detmer completes 38 of 54 passes for 406 yards and three TDs against the defending national champs.
- The week after the Miami game, BYU falls behind Washington State 29-7 at halftime. In the fourth quarter, Detmer leads the Cougar offense to touchdowns on five straight possessions for 36 points and a 50-36 victory.
- He throws for 514 yards and three TDs as BYU reaches No. 4 in the nation by demolishing San Diego State, 62-34. The Cougars score at least two touchdowns in each quarter.
- He bounces back from a defeat at Oregon to lead the Cougars to five straight WAC victories by a combined score of 251-83. Along the way, he breaks bunches of NCAA passing and total-offense records and helps clinch the Western Athletic Conference title for the second year in a row. By the time he throws five TDs to wallop Utah State, the Cougars are again ranked No. 4.
- He wins the Heisman Trophy, by a surprisingly wide margin, while in Honolulu to play Hawaii. That night the Cougars lose big, but Detmer throws for 319 yards and ends the regular season with 42 NCAA records. He tied five.
- He is named first-team All-American by AP, UPI, Football Writers Association, Walter Camp, Football News and Scripps Howard; wins the Maxwell Trophy; and is named player of the year by Football News, Scripps Howard and the WAC.
Perhaps the greatest tribute to Detmer is that all through this season, as he has gotten the lion's share of publicity on a good team, neither his coaches nor teammates have begrudged the acclaim. Indeed, they have been his staunchest backers.
BYU strength coach Chuck Stiggins told one publication, "Ty Detmer has got to be the most likable guy I've ever met. He's definitely the All-American boy. Ty just won't get into an argument with anybody. I never heard anyone say anything bad about him."
"If there's such a thing as a coach's dream, Ty's it," said BYU coach LaVell Edwards. "You couldn't make a mold and have a guy turn out any better than Ty."
Opponents have also praised him.
Eric Bieniemy, Colorado running back and No. 3 finisher in the Heisman balloting, said this of Detmer, "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."
"Detmer is a great one," said Penn State coach Joe Paterno. "He smells of confidence."
Miami coach Craig Erickson, after his team lost to BYU, said, "Ty Detmer is unbelievable. He made some great plays and throws with pressure in his face."
All this tribute, of course, has not come without a price. Detmer spends about an hour signing autographs after each game, he has put up with phone calls from silent BYU fans who just want to hear his voice, and he has courteously answered the same questions over and over again from dozens of media types.
And through all the hype, he has remained a polite, unassuming guy who might rather hunt than do anything else.
"He's still the same unpretentious kid he was when he first came here," Edwards said.