SALT LAKE CITY — Two days after the season ended, when BYU fired him as the offensive coordinator, legions of Ty Detmer admirers refused to believe the legend’s coaching tenure at his alma mater was over.
From their perspective, the BYU press release provided a glimmer of hope in saying Detmer was “being relieved of his duties” as the coordinator but was under contract, as were all the coaches on the offensive staff. Truth was, after years of speculation and hope about the Heisman Trophy winner returning to coach at BYU, the Detmer era lasted two seasons.
Coming off a season in which the offense endured epic struggles, coach Kalani Sitake had no choice but to make changes. Two weeks after Detmer’s dismissal, BYU introduced LSU offensive line coach Jeff Grimes as the new coordinator. Grimes filled out his staff last week, although there is a possibility he could hire another coach this week with the new NCAA rule that allows programs to add a 10th assistant.
True to his character, Detmer took the high road in a social media post and has not made any other public comments. But longtime friend Norm Chow, who coached Detmer during his record-setting college career, is betting the former quarterback will return to coaching.
While Detmer has kept a low profile over the last month, he did speak with Chow recently. The two also corresponded occasionally throughout the season.
“My nickel is he’s going to continue to coach,” Chow said in interview on 97.5-FM and 1280-AM The Zone. “I think it’s in his blood. I always told him you’re not a good coach until you’re fired. He said, well, coach, I guess I’m a good coach now.”
The 71-year-old Chow speaks from a bevy of experience, having a broad spectrum of success and failure over his 45 years in coaching. He was fired from at least two positions, including his last stop as the head coach at Hawaii.
"I always told him you’re not a good coach until you’re fired. He said, 'Well, coach, I guess I’m a good coach now.'” - Norm Chow
But he’s also gained a reputation as an excellent offensive coordinator primarily from his time at BYU and USC. In addition to Detmer, Chow coached Heisman-winner quarterbacks Matt Leinart and Carson Palmer at USC.
Chow said Detmer took the disappointment in stride.
“Ty Detmer is a man,” Chow said. “When we talked he understood (the situation). He knew what he was getting into. He’s not bitter. It’s time to move on. That’s all you do, is you move on. That’s what you do in this profession.”
Certainly, Detmer does not deserve all the blame for BYU’s struggles on offense this season. Some go as far as calling him a scapegoat for the problems, pointing out the numerous injuries at quarterback and a general lack of any playmakers.
The overall lack of coaching experience on the offensive staff also didn’t aid Detmer’s cause. To that end, Grimes has hired a staff full of veteran coaches, led by former Utah offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick. Nobody on the staff is coming directly from high school coaching without any experience at the college level, as was the case with Detmer.
Maybe Detmer’s future is in the NFL, where he played for six teams over 14 seasons. Primarily as a backup quarterback, he soaked up enough knowledge to benefit a team looking for a quarterback coach.
“He was bright to begin with,” Chow said. “That’s what made him so effective in college, was his ability to understand what was going on with the offense. Ty Detmer will end up coaching somewhere. I don’t think there’s no question about that.”
Obviously, Chow gives Detmer his highest endorsement. In time, he believes Detmer’s talent will come through.
“I can’t say enough about Ty Detmer and the type of person he is as a man, a father, a coach, a husband,” Chow said. “He’s the best, the absolute best.”