Posted by Adam Jacobi
The College Football Hall of Fame announced its class of 2011 today, electing 16 former players and coaches to the ranks of gridiron immortality. Of the six players we had tabbed in March as the most deserving of induction, three (Deion Sanders, Russell Maryland, and Eddie George) were elected today, so we don't have quite the gripe we did earlier.
And yet, there are still dozens upon dozens of clearly deserving players who haven't been granted induction into the Hall, had to wait an unreasonably long time to be inducted, or for whatever reason, aren't even on the ballot yet. Eric Dickerson has been out of college football for nearly 30 years, and he's not in yet. He was out of the NFL for all of five years before being named a first-ballot Pro Football Hall of Famer. Deion Sanders was elected a full 22 seasons after he last played a down for Florida State. Of the 16 inductees in this class, the youngest player is Arizona DT Rob Waldrop, who last played in 1993. Others, like Oklahoma running back Clendon Thomas, played upwards of 50 years ago. There's no real telling why they were just now elected.
On that note, this is Tommie Frazier's first time on the ballot, and his collegiate career ended sixteen years ago, in 1994. Sixteen years! What, exactly, was going to change about Frazier's resume between 1999 (granting him the same five-year post-career moratorium on voting that the pros use) and today? And being that nothing changed about that resume, why on earth wasn't he elected on this ballot?
Let's go back over the facts. Frazier went 33-3 as a starting quarterback for Nebraska -- an absurd .917 career winning percentage. His Huskers went to three title games in that span, winning two national championships and coming within one (badly) missed field goal of a third. Frazier rushed for 2,286 yards and 36 touchdowns in his career, and threw for over 4,000 yards and 47 more TDs to just 18 interceptions. He is unquestionably one of the best option quarterbacks in college football history. And he capped that incredible career with this famous run in the National Championship against Florida, which just so happens to be one of the best plays in college football history.
So if Tommie Frazier is not an immediate, unquestionable first-ballot Hall of Famer in this sport, then what is the point of having a College Football Hall of Fame? Why is the Hall of Fame not even bothering to induct anybody who played fewer than 17 years ago? Are they backed up? Understaffed? Unable to properly address his candidacy for whatever reason? Perhaps the Hall should go all-out next year and elect about 90 players and coaches next year, because between the players who weren't voted in and the ones who aren't 40 years old or older yet, there is no shortage of great college football players who aren't being given their due praise on a timely basis. Look at the ballot voters had to deal with this year. It's filled with guys who deserve recognition, and it's comically outdated. It's a list that -- barring the rare late-'90s player like Matt Stinchcomb or Joe Hamilton -- should have been in front of the voters 20 years ago, not today.
If there's some political reason that Frazier's not in the Hall yet -- didn't glad-hand enough or give off the impression that he wanted to be in or whatever -- then that's unbearable, because that's not what a Hall of Fame should be about. The fact of the matter is that a College Football Hall of Fame that does not include Tommie Frazier is an incomplete Hall of Fame, and the voters owe it to Frazier, Nebraska, and college football as a whole to fix this mistake as soon as possible. Anything else is a plain travesty.