On Monday, the College Football Hall of Fame released the list of players up for induction as part of the 2013 class. There are many quality names on the list, but one name stands head-and-shoulders above everyone else: Tommie Frazier, the option maestro that started Nebraska’s dynasty in the mid-1990s.
It is actually quite surprising that Frazier, whose playing career ended in 1996, is still on the ballot. After all, Frazier has a resume that few can match in the history of college football.
Tommie Frazier’s accomplishments during his playing days are the subject of college football lore. A four-year starter at Nebraska, Frazier threw for 4003 yards and 47 touchdowns and added another 2263 yards and 36 touchdowns on the ground while running the Cornhuskers’ triple-option attack to perfection. Nebraska went 33-3 with Frazier as the starter, playing in three consecutive de facto national championship games and becoming the first team to win back-to-back titles outright since Oklahoma in the 1950s.
Many experts regard the 1995 squad, which saw Frazier run wild in a 62-24 victory over Florida in the title game, as the finest all-around team in college football history.
Frazier also racked up numerous individual awards. He was Big 12 Freshman of the year in 1992, the Johnny Unitas Award winner in 1995, a consensus All-American in 1995 (the only requirement for the CFB Hall of Fame), and the MVP of all three championship games – including the one that Nebraska lost.
And with all due respect to Eddie George, Frazier’s second-place finish in the 1995 Heisman Trophy voting ranks as one of the great oversights in the history of the award.
By all accounts, Tommie Frazier should have been a no-brainer selection for the College Football Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.
So why in the world has he not yet been inducted?
Frazier’s name was first added to the ballot back in 2010, which is a surprise in itself in that it was four years after he was initially eligible for the Hall. (players must wait ten years after their college careers are over to be eligible) He has spent the past 14 years as a coach and administrator, and by all accounts Frazier has been an upstanding citizen during that time.
In other words, it is very, very hard to justify his snub.
Perhaps some voters are unimpressed by his lack of a pro career, which consisted of a half-season in the CFL before a bout with pneumonia triggered retirement. Frazier’s history of blood clots caused him to go undrafted by the NFL, and it is doubtful that a league that had never looked favorably upon option quarterbacks would have given him much of a chance under center even if he had perfect health.
Any pro stats or awards he would have racked up would be irrelevant to his CFB Hall of Fame candidacy, but a few seasons of pro ball may have kept him on the radar of HOF voters for a longer period of time.
There is also supposedly a (completely ridiculous) unwritten rule prohibiting voters from electing players from the same school in consecutive seasons, which would at least explain why Frazier was snubbed last year after fellow Nebraska legend Will Shields was honored in 2011. However, it does not explain why Frazier was snubbed in 2010, since no Nebraska player was inducted as part of the 2009 class.
Besides, if that unwritten rule were really in place, what would have been the point of having Frazier (and former teammate Trev Alberts) on the 2012 ballot in the first place?
Tommie Frazier was more than just a great college football player: he was a true legend that transcended the sport. Very few players in the history of the game ever dominated college football quite like Frazier; what Tim Tebow did in the 2000s, Frazier did in the 1990s. When he eventually makes the Hall of Fame – be it this year or in the future – his induction will be long overdue.