Lion football legend honored with ’08 Lion Hearted award

Lion football legend honored with 08 Lion Hearted award

Lion football legend honored with ’08 Lion Hearted award

When Fred G. Hughes Stadium was built in 1975, it was the only college in the state to have artificial turf on its football field.

Jim Frazier, then head football coach, ‘sold’ the turf by the yard to local businesses willing to support the program. After the stadium was finished, people from St. Louis and Kansas City drove out to see the new artificial surface bringing a benefit he had not expected.

“Once we got them on campus with our faculty and our programs we felt like we had a good chance to recruit them into our program,” Frazier said.

Frazier was named head football coach in 1971. He was named district and national Coach of the Year in 1972 after leading the Lions to a No. 1 ranking and the NAIA Division II National Championship with a 12-0-0 record. He brought Southern into the National Collegiate Athletics Association and the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association. He coached at Southern from 1971 to 2001. Frazier was inducted into the Southern Letterman Alumni Association Hall of Fame in 1986 and this year is one of two recipients for the Lion Hearted Award.

“I think the highlights would be just being around the young people just seeing the success,” Frazier said. “I’ve got guys that are doctors, lawyers, preachers, educators that communicate with me and I think that’s the highlight, seeing young people succeed.”

Frazier cites team discipline as a key to his success.

“We surrounded ourselves with good people,” Frazier said. “We may not have had the most talented teams at all times, but we had talent. We had a good work ethic and a good attitude and we had a lot of fun playing the game.”

When he came to Southern the team had no place to practice.

“With the Astroturf we had the ability to practice rain, snow, sleet or hail – as long as there was no lightening,” Frazier said.

Using the stadium as a multi-purpose building was the vision set out by former University President Leon Billingsly. After it was completed the team used it for practice and home games. It was also used for concerts, ROTC drills and marching band.

More than 20 years of lax maintenance has taken its toll on Hughes stadium. Frazier said Hughes does not match up with half the schools in Southern’s conference.

“It needs to be updated. Coach Tatum is doing a superb job and he’s proving that he can recruit competitive football team without skyboxes or those kinds of things,” Frazier said. “If we’re going to be in the MIAA and a NCAA institution then we need to act like one, look like one.”

Frazier believes in his team and he still attends Southern’s home games. His tenure as coach was its own reward.

“I never really went to work, I enjoyed my time,” Frazier said.