BYU Football: Did you know? (NCAA record for most passing yards in a single season)

When BYU head coach LaVell Edwards made the commitment to throw the football, it eventually led to Brigham Young Cougars quarterbacks rewriting the NCAA record book. It reached a point where Cougar signal callers held virtually every passing record. One in particular that BYU quarterbacks dominated was the record for most passing yards in a single season.
Did you know that 1989 is the only year between 1979 and 2002 that a BYU quarterback did not hold the NCAA record for most passing yards in a single season?
Marc Wilson was the first BYU quarterback to hold the record. In 1979, he passed for 3,720 yards to break Tulsa quarterback Bill Anderson's record of 3,464 yards set in 1965.

Wilson's record stood for only one season. Wilson's replacement Jim McMahon shattered Wilson's mark with 4,571 yards in 1980, but it was all good because it kept the record in the BYU family.

McMahon's record lasted nearly a decade. While BYU fans were watching in 1989 to see if another one of their own, sophomore quarterback Ty Detmer, would break the threshold set by McMahon, Houston Cougars quarterback Andre Ware snuck in and set a new mark of 4,699 yards. (Detmer finished with 4,560.)

Detmer came to the rescue the next year, and took the record back with 5,188 yards. Detmer's mark would stand through the rest of the century and into the new millennium.

Inspired by Edwards, BYU graduate and Texas Tech head coach Mike Leach implemented a "next level" passing offense that resulted in Red Raiders quarterback B.J. Symons passing for 5,833 yards in 2003. Symons record stands to this day.

Editor's Note: The NCAA started including statistics from bowl games in season totals in 2002. Symons passed for 497 yards in the 2003 Houston Bowl. Without the passing yards from the bowl game, Symons had 5,336 yards in the regular season--148 yards more than Detmer had in 1990.

Incidentally, if that same practice was in effect in 1989, BYU would not have lost the record. Houston was on probation that year and did not play in a bowl game. Detmer passed for 576 yards against Penn State in the Holiday Bowl, which would have given him a season total of 5,136 yards; 437 yards more than Ware. (McMahon's 1980 total with 446 yards vs. SMU in the Holiday Bowl was 5,017. Wilson had 380 yards passing in the 1979 Holiday Bowl for a total of 4,100 yards.)

Unfortunately, Detmer suffered two separated shoulders in the first half of the 1990 Holiday Bowl, and only passed for 120 yards, which would only boost his total for that season to 5,308 yards.

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