Dienhart: Frazier finally lands in Hall of Fame

Finally, Tommie Frazier is in the College Football Hall of Fame. Better late than never, right? The Nebraska quarterback’s enshrinement was long overdue, as he was one of four players from Big Ten schools who were announced as inductees into the College Football Hall of Fame by the National Football Foundation today.

Other Big Ten players elected include Wisconsin running back Ron Dayne, Ohio State offensive tackle Orlando Pace, and Michigan State linebacker Percy Snow.

Frazier was a consensus All-American in 1995. But best of all: He led the Cornhuskers to consecutive unbeaten records and national championships in 1994 and 1995. With apologies to Ohio State’s Eddie George, Frazier probably should have won the 1995 Heisman. Alas, Frazier finished second.

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“This is quite an honor,” Frazier said in a statement. “You never play the game and think you are going to be in the Hall of Fame one day. You just go out and try to be the best you can be and whatever happens, happens. I was fortunate that good things happened, but it certainly was not me alone. I had great teammates and coaches that played a big part in this honor.

“If we had not won all those games and two national championships, I wouldn’t be in the Hall of Fame. I was surrounded by great players at every position, and many of those guys had great careers themselves. I did have the role of being a coach on the field, but the guys around me made that much easier. With the supporting cast we had on offense, many times regardless of whether I had us in the right play or wrong play, they made it work.”

Frazier was a wizard at running Tom Osborne’s option offense, knowing when to pitch and when to keep the ball. And when he kept it, Frazier was a force. Remember this run in the Fiesta Bowl after the 1995 season vs. Florida?

Still incredible.

Dayne won the Heisman Trophy in 1999, racking up 2,034 rushing yards and scoring 20 touchdowns. He helped lead Wisconsin to back-to-back Big Ten titles and Rose Bowl championships in 1998 and 1999. Dayne finished his career as college football’s all-time leading rusher. The official NCAA record book credits him with 6,397 career rushing yards, most in FBS history. Including bowl games, Dayne rushed for 7,125 total yards as a Badger.

“I’m very excited and thrilled to be mentioned with the greatest names in college football history,” Dayne said in a statement. “This is a tremendous honor for me and the university. As with everything in my career, I see this as a team honor and something I never could have achieved without my teammates and coaches.”

Pace’s election further amplifies the career of one of the greatest offensive linemen ever to play the game. He arrived in Columbus in 1994, assumed a starting spot and never looked back. Pace was a two-time Lombardi Award winner and consensus All-American. And he finished fourth in Heisman balloting in 1996 before leaving a year early and being the first pick in the 1997 NFL draft. Pace’s next stop is the NFL Hall of Fame.

“Orlando Pace is not only the best offensive lineman I have ever coached, but he is the best I have ever seen,” former coach John Cooper said in a statement. “Every game was a highlight reel for him. We ran a lot of counter sweeps and a lot of screens, and on many of those plays Orlando had to be out in front of the ball carrier. And we had some pretty good ball carriers. I don’t know how you could play the position any better than he did. He was just a fantastic football player. He was the best.”

Percy Snow was one of college football’s top linebackers in the 1980s, becoming the first player to win the Lombardi and Butkus awards in the same season (1989). More important: The tackling machine helped lead the Spartans to the Rose Bowl after the 1987 season. MSU hasn’t been back since.

“Percy Snow is certainly deserving of this honor,” MSU coach George Perles said in a statement. “Offenses simply dreaded playing against him because he didn’t just make the tackle; he damaged people. Percy was the hardest-hitting kid that played at Michigan State in many, many years. He was the nucleus of those great defensive units in the late 1980s.”

Big Ten players on the ballot who weren’t elected are Nebraska linebacker Trev Alberts; Indiana quarterback Antwaan Randle El; Purdue receiver Larry Burton; Iowa linebacker Andre Tippett; Nebraska quarterback Eric Crouch; Ohio State linebacker Tom Cousineau; Michigan linebacker Erick Anderson; Purdue defensive tackle Dave Butz; Michigan running back Rob Lytle; Ohio State running back Jim Otis; Penn State running back D.J. Dozier; Michigan offensive tackle Jumbo Elliott; Michigan State receiver Kirk Gibson; Indiana fullback Tom Nowatzke; Minnesota defensive end Bob Stein; Michigan State running back Lorenzo White; Penn State guard Steve Wisniewski.

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About Tom Dienhart BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men’s basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.

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6 Comments

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Show Comments (6 Comments)
Robert Chorba on 5/7/2013 @ 1:56pm EST Said:

There was a Dienhart that coached at St. Joseph’s (IN) in the 40s. Relative?

Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer on 5/7/2013 @ 2:42pm EST Said:

Yes–but distant, Joe Dienhart. He was my grandfather’s second cousin. Also coached at Purdue and played at ND. Later was mayor of West Lafayette, IN.

bob jones on 5/7/2013 @ 6:31pm EST Said:

Sorry Tom, that was meant to be a comment, but you can turn it into a question if you like on the CFB HOF’s odd selection process, especially when it comes to TD Tommie.

Cole Benson on 5/7/2013 @ 11:16pm EST Said:

Why on earth do we keep callilng these guys big ten players. Frazier wasnt he never played in the big ten,it doesnt matter that nebraska is now in the conference. Putting all of these big 12 players on best of shows and highlights is ridiculous

Dan Revas on 5/8/2013 @ 11:49am EST Said:

Cole: The B1G likes claiming all of Nebraska’s wins, championships, Heisman and other award winners, why shouldn’t we share the spotlight? If the B1G is going to take the prestige of our accomplishments, then we deserve the credit. To do otherwise, THAT would be ridiculous.

carl on 5/8/2013 @ 11:40pm EST Said:

It dont matter if its Big 10, or big 12. Frazier is one of the most electrifying players In CFB history. Alot of hate I’ve noticed in the big ten since the crossover.