Nebraska’s Tommie Frazier, a human highlight reel from another era and one of the greatest college football quarterbacks to ever walk this earth, has been elected into the College Football Hall of Fame.
A reminder: It is the year 2013, and Tommie Frazier is just now getting into the Hall of Fame.
The National Football Foundation made it official on Tuesday, revealing that Frazier would be enshrined along with 11 others. An entire nation of eager college football fans over the age of 30 rejoices, all the while wondering the following.
What took so long? Seriously, was this that hard?
Anyone who watched a sliver of college football in the 1990s knew Tommie Frazier was on another level, on a pedestal for the truly elite.
His play was so remarkable, the moments so big, the accolades so jaw-dropping that he clearly belonged in a place reserved for very few. A place like, say, the Hall of Fame.
His induction should have made headlines in 2006—the first year Frazier was eligible to be voted in—but it didn’t because he wasn’t. And if you’re not opening your doors to those with the football resumes such as Frazier the exact moment they’re eligible, clearly your admissions practices need remodeling.
As for those admissions criteria, here they are, direct from the National Football Foundation website. To help eliminate any confusion over this delay, Frazier’s case has been made for him.
1. FIRST AND FOREMOST, A PLAYER MUST HAVE RECEIVED FIRST TEAM ALL-AMERICA RECOGNITION BY A SELECTOR RECOGNIZED BY THE NCAA AND UTILIZED TO COMPRISE THEIR CONSENSUS ALL-AMERICA TEAMS.
This part is obviously important given the necessity for all-caps—please, stops yelling at us—although there are no issues here; Touchdown Tommie was a consensus first-team All-American in 1995.
As for some extra credit, because these numbers warrant repeating, he was 33-3 as a starter while tallying 5,476 total yards of offense and 79 touchdowns in four seasons. He also led his team to four conference championships.
Frazier was also named the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award winner in 1995 and walked home with enough hardware to fill up a warehouse. He did all this despite missing significant time due to a blood clot in his lower leg.
The Cornhusker QB was named the Orange Bowl MVP (twice) as well as the Fiesta Bowl MVP. He also helped lead Nebraska to two consecutive national championships and undefeated seasons.
Oh, and he managed to score on this unrealistic, video game-like 75-yard shuffle against Florida in the Fiesta Bowl. Yes, we know this goes well beyond the necessary qualifications, but this is too good not to share over and over.
2. A player becomes eligible for consideration by the NFF's Honors Court 10 years after his last year of intercollegiate football (is) played.
Frazier’s last season came in 1995. So yes, he’s been eligible since the 2006 season.
As a reminder, the year is 2013 and 2006 was a long time ago. This should be said over and over again.
3. While each nominee's football achievements in college are of prime consideration, his post-football record as a citizen is also weighed. He must have proven himself worthy as a citizen, carrying the ideals of football forward into his relations with his community. Consideration may also be given for academic honors and whether or not the candidate earned a college degree.
This requirement is a bit on the ambiguous side, but clearly Frazier passed with flying colors.
The blood clot in Frazier’s calf ultimately deprived us from seeing him in the NFL, and a brief stint in the CFL was cut short because of further health complications. Frazier also coached briefly at both Nebraska and Baylor.
Although his career was cut short, his college football legacy is matched by few. In Nebraska, he’s a living, breathing folk hero. Throughout college football land, he’s a legend. If he’s not on Mount Rushmore, he’s awfully close.
4. In accordance to the 50-year rule*, players must have played their last year of intercollegiate football within the last 50 years. For example, to be eligible for the 2013 ballot, the player must have played his last year in 1961 or thereafter. In addition, current professional players and/or coaches are not eligible until retirement.
It certainly hasn’t been 50 years, although it feels like it. Luckily, this rule won’t come into play in this instance, because otherwise we’d probably have to riot.
And then, there’s an unwritten rule of sorts that has been working against Frazier (and many others). Well, perhaps.
I say unwritten, only because this is not on the National Football Foundation’s criteria page. In fact, there’s no true proof that it exactly exists. Despite the haziness, it’s become a frequent topic of conversation in recent years while the football-informed look for some justification over glaring Hall of Fame omissions.
ESPN.com’s Ivan Maisel —someone who's been entrenched in the College Football Hall of Fame voting process for quite some time—noted last year that, “the Hall has a rule against taking players from the same school in consecutive years.”
Others, such as Fox Sports’ Corey McCartney, who is a Hall of Fame voter, have never seen this rule laid out.
Depending on who you talk to, you’ll likely get a slightly different take. It’s a bizarre situation open to interpretation—a handshake agreement that may or may not exist. The intent, of course, is to spread the HOF wealth.
More specifically, it keeps players such as Frazier and the late linebacking machine Derrick Thomas, who somehow still isn’t in the Hall of Fame, waiting far longer than they should ever have to.
And if it’s not this strange gentlemen’s agreement keeping them out, there’s clearly something deeply flawed about the process.
If it's not this rule that's creating these types of unnecessary waits, then what's the problem? Increase yearly inductions (after all, there are a lot of worthy players), zero in on more appropriate criteria and just find a way to get it right.
If Frazier isn’t immediately included in your exclusive club and Thomas and his 52 sacks (including an absurd NCAA record 27 in one season) still aren’t good enough, then what is exactly?
It doesn’t take a panel of “experts” or a detailed list of criteria to know that Frazier is a Hall of Famer. Ask a room full of college football fans over the age of 30 if he should be in and you'll see a room emphatically nod at the same time.
Sometimes, simple works. Sometimes, simple is required.
The process doesn’t make sense, but then again, I suppose we can add it to our college football “to-do” list, which is now increasing in length by the day. We can also turn our vocal Hall of Fame outrage to Derrick Thomas.
Before we do that, however, we can celebrate one of the game's all-time best. Congrats to Tommie Frazier, College Football Hall of Famer.
That has a nice ring to it, and it probably looks great on a business card.