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2017 Silver Anniversary Award: Ty Detmer

Former NFL quarterback returns to coach at alma mater

Twenty-five years after last donning a Brigham Young University football uniform, Ty Detmer returned to the sidelines at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo, Utah. In fall 2016, at his first home game in his new role as the Cougars’ offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, long-dormant emotions stirred within the former All-America quarterback as he ran onto the field.

Detmer scanned the crowd – gazing at the student section, alumni and band – and felt at home. The place where he had once thrived would now become the place where he would help other young men do the same.

Detmer will receive an NCAA Silver Anniversary Award at the NCAA Honors Celebration on Wednesday, Jan. 18, in Nashville, Tennessee. The annual award recognizes six distinguished former student-athletes on the 25th anniversary of the end of their intercollegiate athletics eligibility.

Detmer broke 59 NCAA records and tied three others during his playing career at Brigham Young, which spanned from 1987 to 1991. In 1990, he threw for 5,188 yards and 41 touchdown passes and earned the Heisman Trophy. Although the school’s current students are too young to remember Detmer’s days in blue and white, that Heisman displayed in Brigham Young’s Legacy Hall stands as a reminder of his exploits.

Brigham Young Athletics Director Tom Holmoe coached the defensive backs during Detmer’s Heisman campaign and vividly remembers the fiery signal-caller who simultaneously had fun playing the game. Even though Detmer had only coached at the high school level before returning to BYU, Holmoe was confident in his ability to lead the Cougars’ offensive unit.

“His mentality for the game, his knowledge of the game, his instincts were evident,” Holmoe said. “And at the end of his NFL career, coaches wanted him as a player-coach to provide that calming influence.”

Detmer was drafted by the Green Bay Packers in 1992 and went on to play 14 years in the NFL with five different teams. The San Antonio native served as a mentor for quarterback teammates such as Brett Favre, Tim Couch and Matt Schaub.

“I take a lot of experiences with former teammates (and) coaches and try to bring the things I liked about them into what we’re trying to do,” Detmer said. “Having the opportunity to play for different coaches allows you to see why some were successful and others weren’t.”

Detmer describes his first season running the BYU offense as “fun, demanding and nerve-wracking.” The Cougars finished the 2016 regular season with a record of 8-4, with the four losses coming by a total of only eight points. The season was highlighted by a 28-21 double-overtime win against Mississippi State University and a 55-53 victory against the University of Toledo that ended with a 19-yard field goal as time expired.

Wins and losses aside, Detmer cherishes the opportunity to serve as a mentor in a place so meaningful to his own life.

“There’s no better time in life than college,” Detmer said. “You’re going to school, you’re figuring out who you want to be. In the NFL, it’s a 7-to-5 job, and when you leave, you go your separate ways. In college, you’re living with teammates and creating those bonds that last a lifetime.”