When Ty Detmer was awarded the Heisman Trophy in 1990, many thought that the season would end on a high note. How wrong they were. After defeating #1 ranked Miami (perhaps the greatest win in school history) and finishing the season with 21 NCAA records, Ty and the BYU Cougars were steamrolled by Hawaii 59-28. The Cougars never recovered and proceeded to lose 65-14 to Texas A&M in the Holiday Bowl.
Coach Detmer faced a similar end shortly after his fourth and final win of the season in Hawaii this last weekend. Today coach Kalani Sitake announced that Ty Detmer would be relieved of his duties as offensive coordinator.
Longtime Cougar fans are most likely saying the same thing they thought over 25 years ago in Hawaii: “It wasn’t supposed to end like this.” Ty is living evidence that sometimes talent doesn’t always translate to the next level. A guy who had one of the best college quarterback careers ever ended up as a journeyman NFL player who mostly rode the pine. An overall successful football player doesn’t always make a successful coach. Detmer did great with top talents like Taysom Hill and Jamal Williams last year as his team went 9-4. However, the departure of several weapons combined with the onslaught of injuries brought a quarterback carousel that resulted in one of the worst offensive seasons in the nation.
Detmer did finish off the season on a high note this time by defeating Hawaii but that didn’t erase the huge question marks about the Cougar offense. It wasn’t just that the Cougars lost but it’s how they lost. The BYU offense that was once a high powered one when Ty played for Lavell ended up averaging about 10 points per game which was 119th in the nation out of approximately 128 FBS teams. It’s not good to be in the bottom 10% of anything. As much of a hero that Ty was for the Cougars back in the day, most people performing at the bottom 10% of any industry don’t get to keep their job.
The season can be blamed on injuries, coaching or a lack of talent but one thing that is clear is that Ty was the scapegoat. His unsuccessful 4-8 season at BYU doesn’t erase the success that he had for BYU on the football field over a quarter of a century ago. While the Hawaiian islands bid farewell to Ty Detmer and another chapter of his football career, more opportunities await. He could go back to coaching high school or become a quarterbacks coach at BYU or elsewhere. Aloha can mean good bye, hello or whatever it’s meant to depending on ones attitude.