Ty Detmer left BYU in 1991 with more than just a bachelor’s degree. The legendary quarterback also left with 59 NCAA records, a Heisman Trophy, a Davey O’Brien Award, a Sammy Baugh Trophy, a college football player of the year title and two all-American selections. Now, the man who seems to have it all can add one more to his list: an induction into the College Football Hall of Fame.
The National Football Foundation announced Tuesday at the Nasdaq stock exchange in Times Square that Detmer would join 16 other players and coaches in this year’s class of hall of fame inductees.
“Ty was a tremendous talent and an absolute legend at BYU,” said NFF President & CEO Steve Hatchell. “He accomplished almost everything a player can do in college football, and the way he played the game was truly ahead of its time. He is a very deserving member of the College Football Hall of Fame.”
Detmer is the most prolific passer in BYU history but still gives much of the credit to his teammates.
“I’m excited about the opportunity,” Detmer said, “but at the same time I know that it’s definitely a team effort, and I had a lot of team members around me making my job easy.”
Detmer’s favorite memory of college football, he said, was the game he played against the University of Miami on Sept. 9, 1990, in Provo. At the time, the first-ranked Hurricanes were the defending national champions and the 131/2-point favorite to win against BYU.
“I knew we couldn’t stack against them athleticism wise,” former BYU Head Coach LaVell Edwards said. “They were a premier team at that time and we were just hoping to come in there and play well.”
The Cougars had just beaten University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) on the road the week before, but this was the very first home game of the season, and, as a Heisman hopeful, Detmer had something to prove.
“Friday night we all kind of walked out and looked at the stadium there as it was getting dark and I felt calm and a sense of confidence in our team,” Detmer said. “We were prepared and ready to play.”
Detmer electrified the crowd with 406 passing yards and three passing touchdowns despite suffering a gash in his chin that required six stitches. The game ended as BYU cornerback Ervin Lee swatted the ball out of a receiver’s hands at the two yard line.
The Cougars shocked the nation with a 28-21 win over the top-ranked team in the country and Detmer proved that he was deserving of the Heisman Trophy.
Now the seventh player from BYU to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, Detmer joins Cougar quarterbacks Jim McMahon, Marc Wilson, Gifford Nielson, Steve Young, tight end Gordon Hudson and former head coach LaVell Edwards.
“He wasn’t very big and didn’t have a great strong arm, but he was so smart and so aware,” Edwards said. “I knew he would be elected.”
Detmer played quarterback for BYU from 1987 to 1991 and still holds several passing records for the university including most passing yards in a season (5,188) and career (15,031) and most career touchdown passes (121). Ironically, he also holds the records for career interceptions (65) and career sacks (108).
“I really enjoyed playing the game,” Detmer said. “BYU was a great place for me to be able to go to school. It was a perfect fit. If I had to do it all over again, I’d do it the exact same way. I might change a few throws and a few decisions, but I wouldn’t change anything else.”
After leaving BYU, Detmer entered the 1992 NFL Draft where he was taken in the ninth round by the Green Bay Packers. Detmer played backup to Brett Favre for four seasons after which he was signed as a free agent to the Philadelphia Eagles. In his 14-year NFL career, Detmer also played for the San Francisco 49ers, the Cleveland Browns, the Detroit Lions and the Atlanta Falcons.
In 2000, Detmer was inducted into the BYU Athletics Hall of Fame and the number 14 (a number he shared with fellow quarterback Gifford Nielsen) was officially retired in 2007. Detmer currently coaches at St. Andrew’s Episcopal School in Austin, Texas.
The inductees will officially enter the College Football Hall of Fame in December. This year’s inductees into the College Football Hall of Fame also include championship coaches Jimmy Johnson and Phillip Fulmer and quarterbacks Steve Bartkowski from California and Tommy Kramer of Rice.