Without Tommie Frazier's heroics, the Nebraska Cornhuskers would have won exactly zero national championships in the Tom Osborne era.
After years of failures on the big stage, Nebraska turned to the Bradenton, Fla., native to lead two scoring drives late going of the 1995 championship game at the Orange Bowl against the Miami Hurricanes.
Frazier ran the option against Miami, something that other Nebraska quarterbacks had failed to do with any level of success.
And he ran the option in the most critical moments.
His ability to draw defenders opened up big runs by Lawrence Phillips and Corey Schlesinger. His skill at turning the corner on the option yielded clutch first downs that kept the Huskers game-winning drive alive.
Credit the Husker defense for putting the team in position to win. Brook Berringer deserves credit as well. Berringer's touchdown pass was essential. His leadership was critical.
But, in the most important moments of that game, it had to be Frazier making plays in order for the Huskers to win.
If Berringer had been left in for the remainder of the game, Nebraska loses. If you take out Frazier in those situations and substitute another Husker option quarterback, any of them, it doesn't matter from what era, the Huskers lose.
Turner Gill could not have done it. Nor could Steve Taylor, or Scott Frost, or Eric Crouch.
Frazier did what others could not.
And it set up Nebraska's dynastic run.
Nebraska kept its core group together to chase another title with Frazier at the quarterback in 1995-96. The team's swagger was almost indescribable but was illustrated perfectly in the Huskers' trouncing of Florida in the Fiesta.
Would the core of players stayed together in the absence of a win over Miami? Would the team have had the same swagger?
I think there would have been some defections. The swagger and momentum of the Huskers would have been lessened for sure.
No national titles for Frazier means no national title for Frost either.
What did Frazier's title success have to do with Frost's championship?
Those first two titles gave the Huskers enough credibility to avoid a larger drop in the polls after the Miracle in Missouri. Without the titles and credibility, the near loss to the Tigers would have been seen as a larger flaw.
And so the win against Tennessee or any other team would not have been enough to bridge the gap.
Frazier's heroics in the 1995 Orange Bowl got the ball rolling, scored the first national title for Osborne, and set up two more.
Frazier should have gotten the Heisman in the fall of 1995. Frazier's induction into the College Football Hall of Fame soothes some of the hard feelings from that error by the Heisman voters.
Page 2 of 2 - More than that, it makes sense.
Hall of famers are program changers.
Frazier made it possible for the Huskers to win three national titles in the 1990s.
And people are still talking about those great Husker teams.
You can't change a program more than that.