The College Football Hall of Fame has its ballot for the 2013 class of inductees, and of the 82 nominees, 20 of them are from Big Ten schools (as long as we're including Penn State and Nebraska, anyway).
The ballot's completely loaded, as it is every year (check the entire ballot out here).
Of course, when there's any discussion of the ballot, the discussion inevitably flows to who belongs in, and for years now, the drumbeat has sounded for former Nebraska great Tommie Frazier. It's gone on for years because Frazier has yet to be voted in, and while it seems like this could be the former Husker legend's year, well, it sure seemed like that last year—and the year before, too.
The inevitable question is simple: Why? Why isn't Tommie Frazier a member of the College Football Hall of Fame? This isn't a rhetorical question or one that can just be dismissively answered with a "because the voters are dumb." People do things and make decisions for reasons, after all.
And sure enough, there are some things that could theoretically hamper Frazier's candidacy.
We'll leave out his lack of a pro career. If pro performances mattered, Cade McNown wouldn't be on the ballot. Randall Cunningham (who, yes, was an All-American punter at UNLV) would have been a first-ballot inductee. It's a shame that blood clots took away Frazier's ability to play in the NFL, but that's not the issue here.
No, the thing of it is that Frazier never won a Heisman Trophy. He came close once, earning runner-up honors behind Eddie George in 1995, but that was about it. Blood clots hampered him in the second half of the 1994 season, and Frazier wasn't a statistical beast prior to then.
The blood clots are a tragic flaw for Frazier, and perhaps if he'd been healthy for the entire 1994 campaign (when he would have been a strong candidate for All-American honors again) he'd have enough accolades to render his induction a mere one-year formality. Perhaps.
There's also the fact that Frazier's passing stats weren't exactly good. People rag on the likes of Taylor Martinez plenty, but as HailVarsity.com points out, Martinez's passing ability rates better than pretty much any option-based Husker QB prior to him. Frazier, meanwhile, completed fewer than 50 percent of his passes for his career and failed to top 50 passing touchdowns during his time in Lincoln.
Now, hammering Tommie Frazier for not throwing many touchdowns in that offense is sort of like criticizing an apple for not having a citrusy flavor, but voters like stats, and the stats aren't heavily in Frazier's favor.
But when you watch the highlights of Frazier's play, he's going downfield on his passes a lot, and he didn't often benefit from easily completed, dink-and-dunk types of passes. For him, that kind of facility assumed the form of lateral passes, and those don't show up on quarterbacks' stat sheets.
They sure show up in the teams' stats, anyway, and it's no accident that Frazier's Huskers ran up unholy amounts of points.
What is in Frazier's favor, however, is the experience of having watched him play. He was certainly aided by having a mammoth offensive line that provided him a wonderful opportunity to show off his skills, but opportunities don't mean a whole lot unless you can make something of them, and Frazier was sensational as a player.
The YouTube user HuskerHistorian compiled a 13-minute highlight clip of Frazier's exploits, and you will want to watch all 13 minutes. That speed, that balance and even that arm are just transcendent as a whole. Enjoy.
Maybe it's just timing. Maybe it's because Tommie Frazier was running wild 15 years ago, and I'm 31 now. Maybe it's because nothing in this world will ever be as authentic as we all think it was when we were 16, fresh-eyed and ready to see the greatest thing we've ever seen, to finally set that benchmark against which the rest of our experiences will be judged.
Maybe to someone who grew up before or during Turner Gill's turn in Lincoln a decade prior, Frazier wasn't all that special.
Maybe. But we all know what we saw. We saw the only player in college football history to be named MVP of three consecutive national championship games, even when his team lost one.
He was the man leading the way for the most dominant college football dynasty of his era—and arguably the greatest college football team of all time, in 1995—and if something like that has to take a backseat to reasoning like "yeah, but he didn't throw enough touchdowns," then we're just left to wonder if the voters for the College Football Hall of Fame even watched these guys play.
Frazier also boasts the most emphatic exclamation point on a career in college football history. You know what it is. Let's watch it one more time anyway.
Vote Tommie Frazier in. It's time.
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