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May 7, 2013
The phone calls and text messages started pouring in to Tommie Frazier's cell phone when word first broke last night that he had been selected as a member of the College Football Hall of Fame's 2013 class.
It wasn't until Nebraska Associate Athletic Director of Community Relations Chris Anderson called him Tuesday that he knew it was official. His initial reaction when he learned the news: "It's over. I'm here, and I don't have to worry about it anymore."
Despite being regarded as one of the best quarterbacks in college football history, it wasn't until Frazier's third year on the ballot that the voters finally decided to induct him as Nebraska's 16th member of the Hall of Fame. Between officially hearing he had made it to the time he met with reporters at Memorial Stadium on Tuesday afternoon, the honor had definitely sunk in a bit more.
"The journey's over, isn't it?" Frazier said. "It's been 17, 18 years, but we're finally here. It's truly a blessing It's a great day for myself and my family. It's been a long journey through the ups and the downs, the good and the bad, and one thing I always wanted to do was go out there and represent my family, the university and my teammates the best way I can. I think I've done that so far, and I'm going to keep trying."
Frazier, who will formally be inducted in New York City on Dec. 10, was a four-year starter for the Huskers from 1992-95 who led his team to four Big Eight Conference titles, three straight national championships appearances and back-to-back national titles in 1994 and '95. He ended his career with record of 33-3 as a starter after taking over the reigns midway through his true freshman season.
Even after missing seven games during his junior season - in which NU went on to win the national championship - Frazier ended his career having accumulated 5,476 yards of total offense and 79 touchdowns. He joins former offensive lineman Will Shields and defensive end Grant Wistrom as the third Husker to be inducted into the Hall of Fame in the past five years.
While he had already achieved legendary status within Nebraska's program years ago, Frazier said he wouldn't be nearly the player he was without the help of his teammates on both sides of the ball over the course of his career.
"I don't get too excited about individual awards," Frazier said. "Everything that I've done is because of my teammates. Without those guys, I wouldn't have had the career I had. I'm taking those guys into the Hall of Fame with me, because they're the biggest part of my career and my success here at Nebraska."
The Bradenton, Fla., native also joins former NU coach and athletic director Tom Osborne in the Hall of Fame. Frazier made it point to thank Osborne in particular for taking a chance on him and giving him "the keys to the car" five games into the 1992 season and naming him the starting quarterback.
"I want to thank Coach Osborne," Frazier said. "This is a guy that took a chance on me in 1992. I was an 18-year-old freshman coming out of Bradenton, Fla., and I think it was the fifth game of my career here, and he gave me the keys to the car. By him doing that, it showed that he trusted me, and I think my career flourished from there. Without him, I don't think I would have been the football player I turned out to be."
Frazier also told a story of when Osborne and former NU assistant Kevin Steele made an in-home visit with Frazier the day after Nebraska suffered a 22-0 loss to Miami in the Orange Bowl to end the 1991 season.
He said despite the fact that the Huskers had just suffered a disappointing loss, Osborne and Nebraska quickly took on a whole new light when his father - who rarely even said a word to college coaches - greeted Osborne by saying: "You look a helluva lot better now than you did last night."
From there, the rest was history - literally. Frazier said he still takes an enormous amount of pride in the fact that his mid-1990's Huskers remain the bench mark of college football dominance, even when compared to today's powerhouses like Alabama.
Asked if he was at all disappointed or upset it took three years for him to finally be elected into the Hall of Fame, Frazier said he never worried himself with things he couldn't control. Besides, he had all of Husker Nation raising up a storm for him anyway.
"It doesn't' bother me," Frazier said. "I'm the type of person where whatever happens, happens. I only worry about things I can control, and I've always said when you leave things up to a person to vote on, there's always subjective opinions out there. I was patient, and patience gets you where you need to be. I just stayed patient. I think the fans and the media across the country did all the politicking for me, so I just sat back and let everybody else do the talking. I knew my times was going to come, I just didn't know when it was going to come."
***Looking back on all the success Frazier had during his four years at Nebraska, he said not winning a third championship remained one of his biggest regrets. In fact, he said the three losses he suffered to Iowa State as a freshman and then twice to Florida State were what he still thought about the most.
"Every win has a special moment, but I think the ones I look back on are the three losses," Frazier said. "Those are the ones you always look at yourself and say, 'What could I have done more in those games?' Going back to Iowa State my freshman year, that was a game where I think we went into it kind of cocky, arrogant; that we really didn't prepare that week and we just showed up like we were going to win that game. We didn't.
"The two losses to Florida State, I think in those games I had a couple of mistakes big mistakes that if I didn't make those mistakes, the game could have been different. I look at the losses more so than all the wins, because there were so many wins here. But it's the losses that are the ones that eat me up."
***When Frazier does think about his highlights as a Husker, he said the one play that stands out as his favorite wasn't the famed "The Run" in the national title win over Florida in 1996, but when he was nearly sacked but somehow got off a key third-down pass to running back Ahman Green in the 1995 victory over Colorado.
"People always talk about 'The Run', but for me it was the Colorado game my senior year, when I was about to be sacked from the blindside and was able to stay up and get the ball to Amahn where I think it was a third down play to keep the drive going," Frazier said. "I think we went down and scored on that drive. I think that play right there showed what my game was all about. One guy is not just going to be bring me down. You better come with everything you have to get me down, because my job is to make sure this play is a success, and it was."
***As good as he was on the field, Frazier also earned a reputation as a somewhat difficult personality for his teammates to get along with at times. Frazier said he was well aware of that reputation, but said he always was and always will be far more concerned with winning than being the most liked.
"I wasn't the most liked guy, but I can promise you this: when I stepped on the field I gave 100 percent and I led by example, and those guys fed off that," Frazier said. "To me, leaders don't necessarily need to be liked, but they can lead and direct and be respected. That's more important to me. I had the mentality and the attitude that I wanted to win, and I don't know any team out there that wants their starting quarterback to have the mentality where he's just out there playing the game and couldn't care less whether he wins or loses.
"I wanted to win. Did I tick some of my teammates off? Yes. But tell me any great leader out there - look at Michael Jordan. He's the best guy to ever play the game of basketball, and you hear stories about how he wasn't liked. I don't worry about being liked, because when you're on that field, it's not about who likes you or not, it's about you trying to do whatever you can to make sure your team wins."