In the next installment of our continuing series, College Football Narratives, The Shadow League visits Lincoln, Nebraska to speak with Cornhusker legend Tommie Frazier. His impact, with a resume that no one has ever matched in the history of the game, is still being felt by anyone who saw him play, and watched him lead what is considered by many to be among the greatest teams ever.
Whenever a debate breaks out about the greatest NCAA quarterbacks of all-time, University of Nebraska legend Tommie Frazier will always be mentioned at or near the very top of the list.
How many QB’s led their team to back-to-back national titles? The answer is five.
Now how many of those accomplished the feat while remaining undefeated for two consecutive years? The answer is one.
Now take a wild guess on who that might be. If you guessed Frazier, you’re correct. Now let’s go one step further and ask how many players earned Most Valuable Player honors in three straight national championship games? Only one. And yeah, it was that Tommie Frazier guy again.
If you watched NCAA football in the ’90s, you witnessed one of the most amazing talents and individual careers ever in the history of the game. Frazier was beyond remarkable, and he shined brightest on the biggest of stages. His teams went 54-4 while he accounted for 5,476 yards of total offense and 79 touchdowns over a four-year span that saw Nebraska win four straight conference championships.
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Encapsulating his brilliance in one single play is impossible, but his 75-yard touchdown run against Florida in the 1996 Fiesta Bowl remains one that still stands out, speaking to his heart, drive and determination. He broke seven tackles on that scamper, a play that anyone who saw it will never forget.
I’ll always remember what he did as a true freshman matched up against the Colorado Buffaloes and their star QB, Kordell Stewart,as well as his performances as a freshman and sophomore in the Orange Bowl against Charlie Ward’s exceptional Florida State Seminoles.
But it was as a junior and senior when Frazier cemented himself as an all-time great. He was simply marvelous, running a squad that is widely considered to be the most dominant that college football has ever seen.
He missed half of his third season due to a blood clot in his leg. With Nebraska trailing the Miami Hurricanes 17-7 in the fourth quarter of the national title game, he came off the bench with less than seven minutes to play and proceeded to lead Nebraska on two touchdown drives.
The Huskers came back to win that Orange Bowl and Frazier won MVP honors in delivering head coach Tom Osborn’s first national championship. It was Nebraska’s first since 1971.
(Photo Credit: Getty Images)
Heading into his senior year, the critics said he was one-dimensional and merely a great running back playing quarterback. He responded by throwing 17 touchdown passes while completing over 56% of his throws. And just to remind everyone how special he was, he ran for 199 yards on 16 rushes, including that remarkable aforementioned 17-yarder, against Florida in the Fiesta Bowl.
Many people thought Gator coach Steve Spurrier’s Fun-n-Gun offense could beat Frazier and Nebraska. The Huskers won in dominant fashion, with Frazier walking off into the college sunset with his third national championship MVP trophy and second straight national title with the 62-24 win.
Tommie Frazier wasn’t simply a great and legendary college football player. He was, quite possibly, the greatest of them all.