Library of Michigan adds Raye of Light to collection
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Library of Michigan adds Raye of Light to collection

A history book told through Michigan State's Underground Railroad football teams in the Civil Rights era

Photo: The Library of Michigan. The youtube below if from the Historical Society of Greater Lansing.

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Jimmy Raye, Duffy Daugherty, the integration of college football and the 1965-66 Michigan State Spartans

By Tom Shanahan; Foreword by Tony Dungy; August Publications


Ed Sherman’s Chicago Tribune story:

Jarrett Bell’s USA Today story:

UNC-TV (state-wide PBS station)

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“Raye of Light” is a history book as much as a sports story that is told against the backdrop of the Civil Rights era.

A premise is that Jimmy Raye and Duffy Daugherty have not received their proper credit for their leading roles in the integration of college football. Jesse Jackson says Michigan State’s teams contributed to the movement simply by being see on television and in magazine and newspaper articles.

The 2015 season marks the 50th anniversary of the Spartans’1965 Big Ten and national titles. The 1965 and 1966 teams posted back-to-back unbeaten conference titles and national championships.

Daugherty’s Underground Railroad recruits from the segregated South began as a result of the trust he earned from black high school coaches. When he first was invited to give a clinic in the South in the late 1950s, he was disturbed that black high school coaches couldn’t attend. He subsequently gave a separate clinic for the black coaches.

Bubba Smith is the most famous of Duffy’s Underground Railroad passengers, but Jimmy Raye is the most socially significant based on his pioneering role as a black quarterback ground-breaking career as a college and NFL coach.

There were only three other black NFL assistants when the San Francisco 49ers hired him in 1977. He was one of the first black coordinators when John Robinson hired him as the Los Angeles Rams’ offensive coordinator in 1983.

Raye was later a ground-breaking black assistant coach in college and the NFL, serving a mentor for many coaches, including Tony Dungy. He is in his second year as an NFL Senior Advisor and 39th NFL season overall.



--- 1) Jimmy Raye of Fayetteville N.C., is the South’s first black quarterback to win a national title in 1966 when the Spartans and Notre Dame were named co-champions following the 1966 Game of the Century. Minnesota’s Sandy Stephens of Uniontown, Pa., was the first black quarterback to win a national title in 1960.

---2) Michigan State’s 20 black players and 11 black starters in 1966 were unheard of numbers. Notre Dame had only one black player (Alan Page) when the Irish faced the Spartans in the 1966 Game of the Century. Five other Top 10 teams in 1966 had a combined total of one black player.

---3) Michigan State became the first school with four black players from the same class named to the College Football Hall of Fame following Clinton Jones’ election in 2015. Only three other schools enjoy that distinction and Michigan State is the first since 1940. Jones will be enshrined in December, joining George Webster (1987), Bubba Smith (1988) and Gene Washington (2011).

---4) Michigan State’s 1965 and 1966 drove increased recruiting of black players at schools with a long history of integration. USC’s 1967 national title team had only seven black players, but the Trojans numbered 23 on their 1972 national championship team.

---5) USC’s 1970 team that played at Alabama had only five black starters (Jimmy Jones, Sam Cunningham, Clarence Davis, Tody Smith and Charlie Weaver). Myths surrounding Bear Bryant and the impact of USC as the first integrated team to play at Alabama are debunked.

---6) Of Daugherty’s 44 Underground Railroad passengers, there was a graduation rate of 68 percent at a time when academic support systems aren’t what they are now. The graduation rate for black football players dipped into the low 30s by the time the NCAA mandated academic standards in 1984.

---7) Daugherty’s first passenger was Clifton Roaf from Pine Bluff, Ark., in 1959. He never played a down due to an injury, but he was an example of how the Underground Railroad players were grateful for an education opportunity. Roaf retired after 40 years a dentist. His late wife was the first black woman named to the Arkansas State Supreme Court. His son Willie Roaf is a member of both the Pro Football and College Football halls of fame.

---8) Michigan State was the first school with two black captains as voted by the team when the players elected George Webster and Clinton Jones in 1966. The Spartans previously had black captains, but they shared the role with a white teammate.

---9) Daugherty’s final recruiting class in 1972 totaled six black players from the South, including Tyrone Willingham of Jacksonville, N.C. That was more black players in one Michigan State recruiting class than teams in the South had on their first integrated rosters.

---10) Alabama’s first integrated team in 1971 had only two black players. Not until 1972 did LSU (one), Mississippi (one) and Georgia (three) have their first black players. Daugherty’s 1972 class debunks the myth that the end of Michigan State’s dynasty was desegregation in the South. Raye of Light also debunked an old myth that Alabama coach Bear Bryant sent black players to Daugherty.,-namath,-daugherty,-bryant-myth

---11) Four of the first eight picks in the 1967 NFL Draft were Michigan State players. No school has come close to matching that number: 1. Bubba Smith, Baltimore Colts; 2. Clinton Jones, Minnesota Vikings; 3. George Webster, Houston Oilers; 4. Gene Washington, Minnesota Vikings.



Chapter 22 discusses how Jimmy Raye and Sherman Lewis never had an opportunity to become a head coach, but they mentored Tyrone Willingham at Michigan State. Willingham was a head coach at Stanford, Notre Dame and Washington and says Raye and Lewis deserved an opportunity. They are an excellent round-table discussion. Raye and Lewis discuss their cursory interviews. Raye describes what he feels was his only legitimate interview with Jim Finks and the New Orleans saints.


Tom Shanahan

Tom Shanahan

Tom Shanahan is an award-winning sportswriter and the author of "Raye of Light". Tom spent the bulk of his career in San DIego writing for the San Diego Union-Tribune. He has covered NCAA Tournaments, Super Bowls, Rose Bowls, the NBA Finals and the World Series in a career that included writing for Voice of San Diego, the San Diego Hall of Champions and He contributes to the Detroit Free Press, Raleigh News & Observer,, and the National Football Foundation's Football Matters. He won multiple first-place awards from the San Diego Press Club and first place from the Copley News Service Ring of Truth Awards. The National Football Foundation/San Diego Chapter presented him its Distinguished American Award in 2003. USA Track and Field’s San Diego Chapter presented its President’s Award in 2000.

Raye of Light: Jimmy Raye, Duffy Daugherty, the integration of college football and the 1965-66 Michigan State Spartans. It explains Duffy Daugherty's pioneering role and debunks myths that steered recognition away from him to Bear Bryant.

By Tom Shanahan; Foreword by Tony Dungy; August Publications

David Maraniss, Pulitzer Prize winner and biographer: "History writes people out of the story. It's our job to write them back in."