Citing once again his season of superlatives, the Deseret News officially presented BYU quarterback Ty Detmer with his Deseret News 1990 Athlete of the Year award Wednesday at a luncheon in the Lion House. Brigham Young ate there. Now, so has Ty Detmer.
Officials from the Deseret News, BYU, and the LDS Church gathered for the ceremony. As did several of Detmer's teammates, including most of his receivers and his offensive line. In accepting the honor, Detmer toasted them, saying, "These guys are as much a part of this as I am. Everybody else does all the work and then I get the credit for it. That's just the way it is for the quarterback at BYU. That's why I chose to go there in the first place."It wasn't the first time Detmer had used that line, but, then, it wasn't the first award he'd received either. Ty knows acceptance speeches. He is as adept at them as 300-yard games. You might be too if you'd been named All-America by Associated Press, United Press International, The Football News, Scripps Howard, the Football Writers of America and the Walter Camp Foundation; and if you'd won the Heisman Trophy, the Maxwell Trophy, the Davey O'Brien Trophy and the CBS Player of the Year award, not to mention the Deseret News Athlete of the Year award, all in the same year.
Detmer's coach, LaVell Edwards, is not at a loss for words on such occasions, either. Wednesday he again used his best Detmer line, which goes, "People are always asking me who's the best quarterback we've ever had at BYU. I keep saying it's Ty Detmer - because he has a year of eligibility left."
When Deseret News Publisher Wm. James Mortimer suggested that Detmer, who needs just 426 yards to become the passingest quarterback in college history, could reach that goal "in the first one or two games of 1991," Edwards answered, "Yeah, if we don't go to the wishbone."
Neither Edwards nor Detmer showed any signs of lingering angst in the wake of BYU's two-game losing skid that closed out the season with defeats to Hawaii and to Texas A&M in the Holiday Bowl. Losses that might have taken the luster off an otherwise sensational season that saw Detmer set 42 NCAA records, tie five others, pass for more yards in a season than anyone in history, and win all of the above honors.
"A lot of the awards have come after the season, after those two losses," said Detmer. "Those people (giving the awards) are putting the season as a whole in perspective. We might as well too."
"It's been a lot like the national championship season (in 1984)," said Edwards. "A month or two goes by and you're looking ahead and nobody's talking about last year."
Upon presenting Detmer with his Athlete of the Year plaque, President Thomas S. Monson, second counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who is also the chairman of the Deseret News board of directors, saluted Detmer for handling his triumphs and disasters just the same.
"He took his punishment too," said Monson, "and he didn't blame his offensive linemen, or the officials, or his receivers . . ." - a comment that brought to mind Detmer's response when asked about Texas A&M's penchant for pouring on the points after the Aggies had separated both of Detmer's shoulders and knocked him out of the Holiday Bowl.
"If you've got the hammer, use it," he said at the time.
Now, Detmer said he's enthused about playing in the nationally televised Disneyland Classic against Florida State to start the 1991 season. "That's the good thing about sports," he said, "you can always look forward to another game, and another year."
In the meantime, he's got last season's spoils to take care of. The Deseret News award launches a three-week country-wide, acceptance-speech tour that will include:
- A parade in his honor this Saturday in his hometown of Mission, Tex.
- The presentation of the Davey O'Brien Award, honoring America's best college quarterback, in Ft. Worth, Tex., on Feb. 11.
- The presentation of his Walter Camp All-America trophy in New Haven, Conn. on Feb. 14.
- And the presentation of the Maxwell Award, honoring America's best college football player, at the Maxwell Club in Philadelphia on Feb. 18.
It's as clean of a year-end award's sweep as any college football player could ever hope for. Detmer will return to Provo just in time for spring practice, and the beginnings of the 1991 season, when he'll have a chance to do it all again. As he left the Lion House he said he might as well try. To get so practiced at accepting awards, and then not have any to accept, that would be a shame.