College Football Hall of Fame commentary | Tommie Frazier to take rightful place among game's greats

adell@bradenton.comMay 8, 2013 

Tommie Frazier was playing in a charity golf event in Nebraska when he received a call Monday that he had been voted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

"I didn't believe it at first," the former Cornhuskers quarterback said Tuesday from Omaha, Neb.

It might be the only time the game of football duped Frazier.

How good was Frazier?

He ran the option like Magic Johnson played point guard. He threw a pass like Reggie Miller hit 3-pointers and won like NBA legend Bill Russell.

Frazier didn't have blazing speed, but he could wiggle and squirm and fake you out like Emmitt Smith did at Florida and in his hall of fame career for the Dallas Cowboys.

Some said he didn't have a big arm, but he was as efficient as Joe Montana.

Frazier's selection was long overdue, but the wheels of justice move slowly when it comes to honoring college football's greatest players.

In Frazier's case, they came to a crawl. He finished one of college football's greatest careers more than 17 years ago and was eligible for the hall of fame the past eight years.

Along with Frazier, Roger Staubach and Doug Flutie were voted backups to Sammy Baugh on college football's All Century Team selected by Sports Illustrated.

Staubach waited 17 years and Flutie 23 to get into the college hall. Steve Spurrier waited 20.

Congratulatory texts started filling up Frazier's phone, and it didn't take long for him to learn this call was real.

The first phone call he made was to his parents, Priscilla and Tommie Sr., who still live in Palmetto.

"They were happy for me and everything I've accomplished in sports. They told me they loved me and good job," Frazier said.

What you have to love about Frazier is his demeanor, which is a reason he was a magician on the football field. He never allowed emotions to interfere with what he had to do.

"Getting into the hall of fame means a lot because it shows that people really appreciated the way I played the game," Frazier said. "I wasn't disappointed I didn't get in earlier. My thinking was be patient and when it happens it happens. It's something you can't control, and I knew it would eventually happen. The blood clots and not being able to play pro ball is something I don't think about."

The 38-year-old hadn't been able to speak with Manatee High head football coach Joe Kinnan, the man he credits for much of his college success.

When Frazier arrived at Nebraska in 1993, Huskers head coach Tom Osborne called him the most prepared quarterback he had ever seen coming out of high school.

As the Cornhuskers' starting quarterback, Frazier was 33-3 and lost only one regular season game in four years. He led Nebraska to three straight national title games, won two and was named MVP in each game.

Frazier missed the second half of the 1994 season with blood clots, but in the 1995 Orange Bowl for the national title came off the bench to spark the Huskers to a win over Miami. Healthy the next year, he led Nebraska to an undefeated season that included the infamous 62-24 victory over Florida in the national championship game

"I am grateful to anyone who had a hand in helping me learn the game of football from Little League to college. Coach Kinnan helped me a lot. He had been an offensive coordinator in college and knew a lot about how to play the position," Frazier said.

Osborne always has been grateful to Kinnan for sending him such a polished quarterback, but what he didn't know is that Frazier might not have gone to Nebraska if it wasn't for Manatee's hall of fame coach.

In his senior year, Frazier visited four schools (Colorado, Notre Dame, Clemson and Syracuse) and was burned out. He told Kinnan he didn't want to take his final visit, which was the weekend before national signing day.

Kinnan pushed him, telling Frazier he might as well finish the process and take all the visits allowed by the NCAA. He went to Nebraska, and the rest is history.

"I am very excited for him. It's an honor, and he is certainly a deserving young man," Kinnan said. "He was a tremendous college football player and would've been a great pro player if not for the blood clots. His best attribute was his escapability. He was always able to get out of trouble. We didn't give up a sack his entire senior year."

Kinnan believes Frazier's maneuverability overshadowed the fact that he was an accomplished passer with a strong arm.

"He could throw it 65 yards in the air with accuracy, but you would have to be a fool not to use him as an option quarterback because of the way he could run," Kinnan said.

Frazier has always credited much of his success to his teammates and didn't change that approach this week.

"If we had not won all those games and two national championships, I wouldn't be in the hall of fame," he said. "I was surrounded by great players at every position. I was fortunate that good things happened, but it certainly was not me alone."

Frazier can say that, but all those who saw his historic 75-yard touchdown run against Florida in the '96 Tostitos Bowl for the national title would dispute he couldn't do it alone.

He broke seven tackles and left Gators strewn all over the field in what Sports Illustrated called one of the greatest plays in the history of college football.

Alan Dell, Herald sports writer, can be reached at 941-745-7080, ext. 2112. Follow him on Twitter at @ADellSports.

Bradenton Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service