It's a big question, that one, and not the most pleasant for Frazier to have to contemplate here in the Orange Bowl. After starting the 1994 season as a bona fide Heisman Trophy candidate, Frazier was sidelined on Sept. 25 with a blood clot in his right leg and missed the last eight games of the regular season. The clot was dissolved with anticoagulant drugs, but another formed in the same area, and finally surgery was required to tie off a small vein in his calf. To further complicate matters, reserve quarterback Brook Berringer started in Frazier's absence and earned a devoted following among teammates and fans, many o( whom have argued that he deserved to lead the Cornhuskers this night in the contest for the national championship. Frazier won back the starting job in December by outperforming Berringer in bowl practices, but tonight Frazier took the team nowhere on its first possession and he ended the Cornhuskers' second drive by throwing a pass into coverage for an interception. Since then he's stood on the sidelines observing in silence as Berringer called the signals, waiting for his next shot. Now, early in the fourth quarter, Nebraska is trailing by eight points and coach Tom Osborne is giving him just that, and in perfectly cheesy storybook fashion, nothing less than everything is on the line.
"Thomas! Hey, Thomas! Where you been?"
"Where I been?" It's Frazier, piping up at last. "Don't ask me that, don't ask mc where I been. Ask me where I'm fixing to go!"
"We're getting it done," Frazier tells his teammates maybe five plays later. He's in the huddle, giving each of them a look. "We're scoring now."
When they do just that a couple of plays later, Frazier chooses to cut Sapp a break. He doesn't point a finger or do a dance or repeat their exchange from several minutes earlier. All he does is step back under center, take the snap and complete a pass for the two-point conversion, tying the score.
Neither does Frazier tell Sapp anything the next time he leads the Cornhuskers on a touchdown drive, this one the game-winner later in the fourth quarter.
As a matter of fact, Tommie Frazier does not speak to Warren Sapp again. He can hear him, though, that obnoxious voice above all others. "He shouldn't have called me Thomas," Frazier says flatly now, his face darkened by the memory. "My name is Tommie."
"It's right there on his birth certificate," says Frazier's mother, Priscilla. "Tommie James Frazier Jr., after his father. It's not Thomas, either, like you might think. It is and always has been Tommie, with the i-e."
So his name is Tommie, and going into the 1995 college football season, he's sure to be at the top of the list of Heisman contenders and included on preseason All-America teams. That's what you get for being named Most Valuable Player in the Orange Bowl two years in a row and for inspiring your team to its first national title since 1971. There has probably never been an option quarterback more dangerous than Frazier, nor one with a stronger throwing arm to complement his considerable running skills.
And yet, despite these credentials, Frazier's not even guaranteed a starting job this season. The Cornhuskers kicked off spring practice on March 27 with the quarterback position wide open for either Frazier or Berringer to claim as his own.