When the Minnesota Vikings take the field Sunday against the New York Giants, everyone will be looking to see if the veteran #4 lines up under center for the purple and gold. Brett Favre’s mind boggling streak of 298 consecutive starts is in serious jeopardy this week, as he recovers from a bruised shoulder. If he can’t go, Tarvaris Jackson will get the nod, and make history in the process. Jackson, an alum of Alabama State University, would be the first HBCU quarterback to ever start an NFL game under a head coach who is also an HBCU grad. Leslie Frazier, the Vikings interim head coach, played college ball at Alcorn State University.
Alabama State and Alcorn State, both members of the prominent Southwestern Athletic Conference, have put their share of players into the NFL. But in the league’s 90-year history, Frazier is the first head coach to hail from the SWAC.
“The entire Alcorn State University is very proud of the fact the first SWAC alum to become a NFL head coach is an Alcorn Knight,” says Alcorn sports information director Gus Howard. “He excelled in the classroom just as much as he did on the field. He was always a hard worker and a no nonsense guy, but he was also easy to get along with.”
Frazier was a four-year starter at defensive back while at Alcorn graduating with a business administration degree in 1981. He signed with the Chicago Bears as an undrafted free agent and started at cornerback during the Bears’ 1985 Super Bowl season. He later won another Super Bowl ring as an assistant coach under Tony Dungy with the Indianapolis Colts in 2006.
Frazier’s head coach at Alcorn, Marino “The Godfather” Casem, says the traits that make Frazier a hot coaching commodity were visible even in his college days. “He wasn’t a firebrand. He was a student of the game,” Casem says. “It’s no surprise that he is where he is.”
Frazier, who took over for the fired Brad Childress on Nov. 22, is 2-0 as a head coach going into this weekend’s matchup with the Giants. Vikings owner Zygi Wilf has not indicated whether Frazier will get the job on a permanent basis, and three of the Vikes’ final four games, including this week’s, are against probable playoff teams. However, Frazier has been on the NFL head coaching radar for some time, and he is expected to demand serious consideration from the Vikings or any other coach-hungry team. But regardless of where Frazier eventually lands, if Jackson starts on Sunday it will be a proud day for the SWAC.