Testaverde, Wuerffel headed to Hall
The only time Tommie Frazier and Danny Wuerffel shared the field during their brilliant college careers, Frazier’s Nebraska team trampled Wuerffel and Florida in the 1996 Fiesta Bowl to win the national championship.
Wuerffel and the Gators bounced back from that record-breaking 62-24 smackdown to take the title the next season.
The former quarterbacks will cross paths again in December, when they are inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
Wuerffel and Frazier, along with Heisman Trophy winner Ron Dayne, highlighted the latest Hall of Fame class of 12 players and two coaches announced by the National Football Foundation on Tuesday.
The rest of the players to be inducted in Manhattan are: Miami Heisman winner Vinny Testaverde, whose selection was announced Monday; Ted Brown of North Carolina State; Tedy Bruschi of Arizona; Jerry Gray of Texas; Steve Meilinger of Kentucky; Orlando Pace of Ohio State; Rod Shoate of Oklahoma; Percy Snow of Michigan State; and Don Trull of Baylor.
The new Hall of Fame coaches are Wayne Hardin, who led Navy and Temple, and Bill McCartney of Colorado.
Florida and Nebraska fans have been eagerly awaiting the inductions of their beloved All-Americans for years.
Wuerffel won the Heisman in 1996, when he led the Gators to the national championship, throwing for 3,625 yards and 39 touchdowns in coach Steve Spurrier’s Fun-n-Gun offense.
”I’m thankful for what college football has meant in my life … and how it allowed me to help other people,” said Wuerffel, who appeared at a news conference with Bruschi at the Nasdaq Stock Exchange in Times Square.
Wuerffel finished his college career as one of the most prolific passers in major college football history with 10,875 yards and 114 touchdown passes.
After a short NFL career, he retired to dedicate himself to ministry work in New Orleans, where he played from 1997-99 with the Saints.
In 2011, Wuerffel was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disorder: Guillain-Barre syndrome, which causes paralysis and problems with the nervous system but is treatable.
Wuerffel said he is just about all the way back to his old self, but endured a difficult year and a half with little energy or strength.
”You’re trying to live a normal life with 20 percent of your energy, 40 percent of your energy,” he said.
Frazier, from Bradenton, Fla., was a four-year starter at Nebraska, running coach Tom Osborne’s option attack.
”He was an outstanding leader and catalyst and made everyone around him better,” Osborne said in a statement. ”Tommie managed the game very well, and was a natural option quarterback. He had a good sense of timing, when to pitch, when not to pitch. He had excellent balance, good speed and was very strong.
”Tommie was better prepared to start as a freshman than any quarterback we had. That’s not easy to do, but he was unusually mature and competitive.”
Frazier was the centerpiece of Nebraska’s last great dynasty. The Huskers were 33-3 in games he started and won back-to-back national titles in 1994 and ’95.
”It’s been a longer time coming than most of us would have thought,” said former teammate Aaron Graham, a center on those great Nebraska teams. ”The guy was the best college football player of our era and certainly deserving of one of the highest honors you can achieve as a college football player.”
Frazier’s famous tackling-breaking 75-yard touchdown run put an exclamation point on Nebraska’s 62-24 victory over Wuerffel and Florida in that ’96 Fiesta Bowl.
”I’ve seen that run a lot of times,” Wuerffel said.
That loss helped propel the Gators into next season, Wuerffel said.
”I think most people would say the 1995 team was more talented,” he said. ”I think (the loss to Nebraska) helped that team mature.”
Frazier finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting in 1995 as a senior and finished his career with 5,476 total yards of offense and 79 total touchdowns.
”You never play the game and think you are going to be in the Hall of Fame one day,” Frazier said in a statement released by Nebraska. ”You just go out and try to be the best you can and whatever happens, happens. I was fortunate good things happened.”
Dayne is the NCAA’s career rushing leader with 6,397 yards rushing, though his bowl game yards would boost his career total past 7,000 yards if he hadn’t played when the NCAA did not count them in regular season stats. The burly tailback won the Heisman for the Badgers in 1999.
”In my opinion, Ron was simply the most dominant running back that ever played college football,” said Dayne’s former coach and current Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez in a statement.
Bruschi had 52 sacks as part of Arizona’s Desert Swarm defenses during the mid-1990s.
”I don’t know who came up with that nickname, but thank you,” Bruschi said.