The Underappreciated Greatness of Tommie Frazier

The term "snub" is often used in sports to describe when a player is overlooked for an achievement when it is apparent to many that he/she should have been chosen for the honor.  In the mid-90’s there was one player who not only rose to the occasion whenever called upon, but exceeded expectations and posted one of the greatest careers in college football history. Quarterback Tommie Frazier of Nebraska put together a string of seasons that is of storybook quality.

To begin his college career, Frazier started as a backup to senior QB Mark Grant as a true freshman. Everything seemed to roll along as planned for the Huskers until a 29-14 loss to second-ranked Washington changed the course of history at Nebraska. Coach Tom Osborne would make the call to insert Frazier into the lineup as the starting quarterback, and in his first two starts, Frazier would lead his team to two blowout victories, a 9-3 regular season record and an eventual Orange Bowl birth. He would ultimately go on to be named the Big Eight Freshman of the Year as well.

In his 1993 sophomore season, Frazier guided Nebraska to a perfect 11-0 record and a consecutive Orange Bowl for a rematch against the previous year opponent of Florida State. Unfortunately a Charlie Ward led Seminole squad would hand Frazier and the Huskers their lone loss of the season to capture the National Championship, their only blemish on an amazing season.

In 1994 Frazier battled with injuries, yet was able to team up with quarterback Brook Barringer to finally claim the national title. Nebraska went 12-0 and defeated the Miami Hurricanes in their own backyard in the previously unfriendly confines of the Orange Bowl. Frazier, after two consecutive Orange Bowl defeats, was, fittingly, named the game’s MVP after taking over for Barringer in the fourth quarter.

1995 was Tommie Frazier’s finest season. Coming off of a national championship and entering the season ranked #1 in the country, Frazier was back to 100% in terms of his health. He would once again lead the Cornhuskers to yet another undefeated season, this time facing the Florida Gators for the National Championship in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. This match-up would set the stage for one of the greatest plays in college football history, one that Huskers, and Gators fans will always remember when thinking of Tommie Frazier. On what appeared to be a routine short-yardage option sweep to the right sideline in the closing seconds of the third quarter, Frazier kept the ball, turned upfield and broke several tackles en route to a career-high 75-yard touchdown run, one that is eriely similar to a play that would occur 15 years later in Seattle when Marshawn Lynch took the ball 67 yards to the house against the Saints in his now infamous "Beast Mode" touchdown run. And like "Beast Mode", this run was the exclamation point on a title victory for the Cornhuskers, the final score a blowout of 62-24.


Despite leading his team to back-to-back titles and becoming one of the winningest players in college football history, Frazier would come up second in the Heisman race to Ohio State running back Eddie George. Regardless of the award snub and often being overlooked in the conversation of college football’s greatest quarterbacks, a record of 45-4, two undefeated seasons and back-to-back national titles simply speaks for itself.  So while most are judged by statistics and numbers, the ones that speak loudest adamantly suggest that Mr. Frazier is indeed a name worthy of being on everyone’s list.