When former Brigham Young quarterback Ty Detmer was looking for the right place to play college football, he focused on one thing: schools that “like to throw the football.”
Detmer, a native of southwest Texas, grew up idolizing the powerhouse football programs in the Lone Star state, but was more attracted to the tradition being built at BYU — the place often referred to as “Quarterback U.”
“I was a big Texas Longhorns fan growing up,” Detmer said with a laugh. “But I knew that the style of football I wanted to play, and Texas was rather run-heavy at the time. I wanted to throw the ball.”
Though he was a few states from home, Detmer found great comfort in the Cougars offense as he started three years as the team’s quarterback and was the school’s first Heisman Trophy winner.
Twenty-five years later, Detmer has returned to Provo.
In December of last year, BYU head coach Kalani Sitake hired Detmer as his offensive coordinator. Even though Detmer has no coaching experience on the collegiate level, he says this is the position he’s been groomed for his entire life.
“I was a coach’s son. I learned how to understand the game by sitting in the back of my dad’s football meetings,” he said. “I’ve been a coach, in some way, everywhere I’ve gone in football — even on the professional level.”
Detmer enjoyed a 14-year NFL career and played with big-name quarterbacks like Brett Favre of the Green Bay Packers and the Cleveland Brown’s Tim Couch.
The former Philadelphia Eagles starter said his experiences as a successful quarterback are the most valuable lessons he gives his athletes.
“There hasn’t been any situation that these guys will go through that I haven’t dealt with in some form,” says Detmer. “I believe that I can give them advice in game situations that most coaches in sports can’t do.”
Sophomore quarterback Tanner Mangum was thrust into the starting spot last year after BYU starter Tayson Hill went down with an injury.
Mangum threw for 3,377 yards on 267-of-446 passing with 23 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
“I practiced everyday like I was going to play,” says Mangum. “I knew Tayson was the starter, but I knew I had to be ready to go. I was watching a lot of film, taking the time to throw with the guys, doing what I could to be prepared if the time came that I would have to step in.”
In his first year on the college scene, Mangum said it was the school’s experienced coaching staff that prepared him for a jump into the national spotlight.
“At the college level, everyone is a good player. I’m not the most athletic or great as far as running,” says Mangum. “But that’s where it comes down to the little things like preparation. You have to be able to understand situations, where people are on your team and what schemes the competition is trying to use against you.”
With Mangum accomplishing so much in his short collegiate career, he saw coach Detmer’s hiring as an opportunity to learn from a wealthy source of football knowledge.
“I grew up a big BYU fan, and I knew who Ty Detmer was — he’s been a legend,” Mangum says. “When I heard he was going to come coach, I was ecstatic. He played 14 years in the NFL largely due to the fact that he was such a good player-coach. He’s always been a good mentor to other quarterbacks around him. “
Detmer said he’s been to a lot of great places for football but BYU has stuck out to him.
“When you come to BYU as a quarterback, you know that you are going to have the support you need to be a success,” says Detmer. “When you come to BYU, you are at a special place on and off the field.”