When Grandma and I Ran into Ty Detmer

When Grandma and I Ran into Ty Detmer December 15, 2018

During the 1990 fall semester of my sophomore semester at BYU Provo, I lived with my darling grandmother who was the in-home caretaker of Elfie Boyle.  Our house was a mile or so from BYU campus.

While I worked and went to school, grandma and Elfie watched their favorite TV shows.  Both grandmothers avidly watched BYU football every Saturday afternoon.  Grandma was the biggest BYU football fan I knew at the time.

The initial months of 1990’s football season were a great time to be a BYU Cougar.

BYU Football’s Quarterback Ty Detmer

Ty Detmer “became the full-time starter in 1989. He emerged as one of the top quarterbacks in the nation, passing for 4,560 yards and 32 touchdowns during the regular season. His passer rating of 175.6 led the NCAA, and he finished second to Houston’s Andre Ware in total offense. He led BYU to a Western Athletic Conference (WAC) Championship, the team’s first since 1985. Detmer finished the season with a strong performance against Penn State in the 1989 Holiday Bowl, setting NCAA records for most passing yards (576) and most yards of total offense (594) in a single bowl game. He finished ninth in the Heisman Trophy voting.

Detmer’s 1990 junior season ranks as one of the greatest seasons for a quarterback in college football history. He passed for 5,188 yards and 41 touchdowns in 12 regular season games and finished the year with 42 NCAA records (and tied for five others). The high point of the season was BYU’s 28-21 upset victory over the top-ranked Miami Hurricanes; Detmer led the Cougars by passing for 406 yards and three touchdowns against the defending national champions. For his performance that season, he was awarded the Heisman Trophy, as well as many other honors.”

Running into Ty Detmer

I can’t remember why I was running late to class one morning.  But I didn’t have a car, so I asked grandma if she would drop me off at the Smith Fieldhouse on campus. I planned to run the stairs up the hill there and hit class.

She kindly agreed to the drop off. We set off in her little brown car, chatting away.

As we pulled onto campus, we hit student rush hour. Students were everywhere!  Grandma drove really slowly to avoid hitting the students randomly crossing the parking lot from in between parking spots.

Grandma inched closer and closer to my drop off spot.  Knowing I felt time stress, she accelerated a little during a break in the students.  But as we approached a crosswalk, a single student started across our path.

It was Ty Detmer!  I’d never seen him up close before and might not have really recognized him in my stressed condition. I just saw another student in my path. Also, I funded my football game experience by working as a ticket taker. So I really only got to watch the second half of the games standing in tucked away spots around the stadium, but I got to watch the games for free. I could afford that.

Grandma, however, watched every game from her front row living room seat.  She knew every player by name and face.  And she certainly knew Ty Detmer.

She shouted, “It’s Ty Detmer!”  And waved heartily at the famous quarterback.

However, in the excitement, apparently, grandma forgot she was still driving.  With her face beaming love and adoration, grandma’s foot did not break at the crosswalk.  She realized what was happening mid crosswalk at the exact time Ty Detmer was directly in front of our hood.  He protectively stuck his hand out onto the hood and jumped away from the car.

With the car fully stopped in the crosswalk, grandma continued to smile and wave. Ty Detmer quickly continued on his way.  I died in the passenger seat.

Exhuberant at seeing Ty Detmer, grandma dropped me off at the stairs and went home to relate the triumphant meeting to Elfie.

I’ve forgotten a lot of things in life, but Ty Detmer’s surprised and then concerned expressions are still vivid, as is grandma’s sheer delight.

And that’s how grandma and I ran into Ty Detmer in the Smith Fieldhouse parking lot on BYU campus.


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