The Doc Five: Best Heisman encore seasons -- No. 4 Ty Detmer

This offseason we will count down various topics from Monday through Friday, bringing you the top five of the important and definitely some not so important issues in college football. It's the Doc Five, every week until we will thankfully have actual games to discuss.



Few college quarterbacks can lay claim to the kind of season BYU’s Ty Detmer, then a junior, had in 1990. He threw for 5,188 yards and 41 touchdowns in 12 games. He led the Cougars to a 28-21 upset victory against No. 1-ranked Miami. Overall, he finished his Heisman Trophy-winning campaign with 42 NCAA records and tied five others.

But in his final game of that remarkable season, Detmer suffered two separated shoulders against Texas A&M in the Holiday Bowl. He required offseason surgery and though Detmer would return as the starter in 1991, his bid for comparable encore performance was really halted before it ever got started.

That’s not to say Detmer had a bad senior season. Quite the opposite, actually. Despite Detmer quarterbacking an inexperienced team and losing the first three games of the year, he helped BYU turn things around and managed to throw for 4,031 yards, 35 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He averaged an astonishing 10 yards per passing attempt. His yards per attempt and passer rating was actually better than his Heisman year and he threw 16 fewer interceptions.

But Detmer set the bar high in 1990 and the fact that BYU went 8-3-2 didn’t help. It also didn’t help that Michigan receiver Desmond Howard had a dazzling season in which he became the first receiver to lead the Big Ten in scoring.

Detmer finished third behind Howard and Florida State quarterback Casey Weldon, though neither Weldon nor Detmer were even in the same vicinity as Howard votes-wise. Detmer did, however, win his second consecutive Davey O’Brien Award and also was awarded the Sammy Baugh Trophy, which was given to college football’s top passer. He was a consensus All-American for the second consecutive season.

The only way Detmer was going to win another Heisman was if he either came close to or topped his 1990 numbers and if BYU finished with double-digit wins. The 0-3 start to the 1991 season put Detmer in an early hole, especially with Howard surging. It was an uphill battle from there.

Still, Detmer left college with 59 NCAA records, tied for three others and went on to have a nice career in the NFL. In 2012, he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. He will always be remembered as one of the greatest college quarterbacks ever to the play the game and that’s pretty high praise, praise that might only be shared with one other player on our list.

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Graham Watson is the editor of Dr. Saturday on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at or follow her on Twitter!

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