TEMPE, Ariz. -- A year ago, Brook Berringer nearly led the University of Nebraska to a national championship. A redshirt junior, Berringer started and won seven games when Tommie Frazier was sidelined because of blood clots in his leg.
Even after being replaced by Frazier as the starter for Nebraska's game against Miami in the 1995 Orange Bowl, Berringer had a chance to be a hero again. But a third-quarter interception -- on a questionable call near the Miami goal line -- led to Berringer being benched again.
"It was all downhill after that interception," Berringer said last week.
Frazier went on to be the MVP in the Cornhuskers' 24-17 come-from-behind win over the Hurricanes. Berringer became the forgotten man. Though Nebraska coach Tom Osborne said that the two quarterbacks would compete in spring practice, it was Frazier's job to lose. He didn't.
The result: While Frazier has had a terrific senior year for the top-ranked Cornhuskers and will start again tomorrow night against second-ranked Nebraska in the Fiesta Bowl, Berringer has had only a trying one. Mostly because of the one-sided nature of Nebraska's games, he has played in nine games, completing 26 of 51 passes for 252 yards and rushing 21 times for 105 yards.
"It was frustrating, after getting a taste of what it's like to play and win last year," said Berringer. "I feel like I've handled it very well. I feel like I have to be a leader even if I'm not playing. But it's just another step to hurdle over."
Berringer has overcome a lot throughout his career at Nebraska. After coming out of Goodland, Kan., a town of 5,000 people, Berringer proved last year that he was more than a career backup. He completed 94 of 151 passes for 1,295 yards and 10 touchdowns (five interceptions) and rushed 71 times for 279 yards.
"It was definitely a magical and special year for me," he said. "To win a national championship was definitely a fairy tale for me."
Barring an injury to Frazier tomorrow night, Berringer's fairy tale appears to be over.
What the NFL giveth, the University of Nebraska taketh away. In this case, it was the field at Scottsdale Community College.
The NFL had spent some $70,000 to level, resod and reseed the field for use by its AFC champion team during Super Bowl week here later this month.
It took less than a week for the Cornhuskers to ruin it.
"You throw 140 kids on it, you kill it," an NFL representative told the Arizona Republic last week. "We don't know if it's salvageable or not."
Said Scottsdale CC athletic director Art Becker: "As far as I know, the field is not in bad shape. Gee, a football field is supposed to be used."
But this could be a case of one big divot deserves another. As of last Thursday, the field at Sun Devil Stadium didn't appear to be in optimum condition after the Cardinals-Cowboys game here Christmas night.
Florida coach Steve Spurrier has been known for being a tad arrogant. So when he was asked if this was a "hump" game for the Gators, Spurrier got a little bit huffy.
"Hump game?" Spurrier squeaked at the reporter. "Where you from? Do I have to tell you what we've done? We've played in some big games. No, this isn't a hump game."