May 15, 2012
This afternoon, the National Football Foundation (NFF) announced the newest members of the College Football Hall of Fame. In all, there were 14 inductees who will see their names enshrined among the greatest names in college football history, including three legendary coaches: Tennessee's Phil Fulmer, Texas A&M royalty R.C. Slocum and the man behind "The U", Jimmy Johnson.
The majority of the players who made the cut are names that most football college fans, even the most casual, would know. BYU's record-setting quarterback Ty Detmer, the legendary wide receiver Art Monk of Syracuse, and "Holy Roller" Dave Casper, a Notre Dame hero, lead a pack of deserving names and resumes.
There is no shortage of great players who become eligible every season, and therefore no shortage of worthy candidates who find themselves being memorialized in the hall, which considers itself quite discerning in its selections. Today's lot boasts an impressive collection of awards and accolades: 11 consensus first team All-Americans, five conference player of the year winners, and seven first round selections to the NFL stand out amongst those designations.
To gain entry into this group of athletes, the NFF has requires a few prerequisites for entry (from NFF email).
There's nothing wrong with who is on this list, but the majority of today's reaction centered on those who were not - due to "unspoken" rules - selected rather than those who were. The two biggest slights, Ohio State's Orlando Pace and Nebraska's Tommie Frazier, were overlooked as a result of an unwritten rule. The rules says (without being a rule) that if a school was represented in the prior year's class, that no players from said school shall be chosen. Since Eddie George (OSU) and Will Shields (Nebraska) got the call last year, that sealed the fate for Pace and Frazier. So there's the reason, but here's the thing about that: it's stupid.
This is an Ohio State-related blog, of course, and I know that you expect I will go on about Orlando Pace, but I want to focus on the ridiculous exclusion of Frazier;I am not a mathematician, but after doing some counting on my fingers, I came up with times that Frazier has been overlooked. With apologies to Barbara Mandrell, Frazier was Tebow, when Tebow wasn't cool.
I fell in love with college football in the mid-1990's, and while Ohio State was always the first thing on my TV and in my conversations at the lunch table on Monday mornings; but it was Frazier who stood out as the best player in three straight national title games. It was Frazier who taught me that a quarterback could be successful in non-traditional offenses. It was Frazier, not Doug Williams or Warren Moon, who has most impacted the game as we know it today, when quarterbacks, black or white, can strike a defense at its core and rip it to shreds from the inside out.
Frazier's 75-yard touchdown run in the 1996 Fiesta Bowl, as part of one college football's all-time greatest teams, instantly became the run that me and all my friends would try to mimic on Sunday afternoon football games.
Here is a player who's on the field exploits have never been outdone by off the field mistakes, nor did he leave a black mark on the Huskers due to arrests or NCAA violations. He finished a short professional career and went into coaching, and continues to be a bright spot in the now fading shadow that was once Nebraska's national relevance. Yet, he continues to be snubbed by a group of "nominations may be made only by a dues-paying member of the National Football Foundation or by athletic directors, coaches or CoSida members representing dues-paying colleges/universities," for reasons unknown or just flat out fabricated.
If this isn't enough to get someone into the NFF Hall of Fame in his first year eligible, is it enough to get him in his 7th?
Frazier may very well get the call next year, and I don't mean to question the credibility of the NFF, but when two of the greatest players in college football history are not included because of "unwritten rules", then I submit that it might be time to rewrite the rules.