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Duffy Daugherty’s Underground Railroad

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Scroll down to Ken Burns at Episode 7.

This is from the Greater Lansing Historical Society

Click here for the video from 2014


The purpose of the Milestone Minutes to enlighten college football fans about the true 1960s pioneers of college football integration. It started with Michigan State’s 1954 and 1956 Rose Bowl teams that caught the attention of southern Black high school coaches and fans and Daugherty’s 1960s teams, the first fully integrated rosters.

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If Michigan State doesn’t tell its story of leading college football integration, who will tell it for us? Listen here as I explain how Wake Forest told its story about Bob Grant and a year later the school and Grant earned a national honor from the NCAA. Duffy Daugherty’s 1960s Michigan State teams were college football’s first fully integrated rosters, but the school has failed to take credit for Daugherty’s leadership. Trails were blazed, thanks to Duffy Daugherty’s courage.



The 1954 season marks the 70 years since Duffy Daugherty was promoted to head coach and assembled a staff that changed the face of the game. Duffy’s assistants and former players followed his blueprint of ignoring unwritten quotas limiting Black athletes. The protegees include Dan Devine, Frank Kush, Bob Devaney, Chuck Fairbanks, Bill Yeoman, Sonny Grandelius and Earle Edwards. The story is told in THE RIGHT THING TO DO.

Click below to watch video.

Milestone Minutes Episode 15 (



Michigan State College Football Hall of Famer Clinton Jones relives his milestone touchdown in 1964 at the University of North Carolina’s Kenan Stadium. Michigan State was the first fully integrated team to play in the South.

You can read more about the 1964 Michigan State game at North Carolina here.



The Pro Football Hall of Fame honored Michigan State’s Sherman Lewis on June 29 with its NFL Awards of Excellence for is career in the NFL as an assistant and offensive coordinator. A year ago, Jimmy Raye was honored in the inaugural class. Duffy Daugherty’s legacy is two for two. Note in the COMMITTED graphic Lewis is wearing one of his four Super Bowl rings (right side).


Here’s a bonus video from the Raleigh Sports Club. NC State football coach Earle Edwards was one of the former Michigan State assistant coaches who followed Duffy Daugherty’s leadership at providing more opportunities for Black athletes once they became a head coach.

Edwards, a Michigan State assistant from 1949 to 1953, was NC State’s head coach from 1954 to 1970. He revived the Wolfpack program in the 1950s and desegregated it in the 1960s. NC State historian Tim Peeler and NC State pioneer Charley Young joined me to speak on March 8, 2023, at the Raleigh Sports Club.



NFL 360, a film division of the NFL Network, highlights Jimmy Raye and Duffy Daugherty during Black History Month. The documentary is titled, “The Jimmy Raye Project: A Story of a Man who Carved a Path for Black Players and Coaches”. Pro Football Hall of Fame coach Tony Dungy considered Raye a mentor as a Black college quarterback and Black coach. The director/producer is Osahon Tongo, a former Georgia Tech player.



The Spartans’ 1962 season marked the first time an Underground Railroad passenger earned All-Big Ten honors and the arrival of the 1962 freshmen class. As seniors in 1965, they won an undefeated Big Ten championship along with UPI and National Football Foundation national titles.


THE 1967 NFL DRAFT that changed the face of pro football.

EPISODE 10: Four of the top eight picks in the 1967 NFL draft were Michigan State players.


KENNETH WALKER III deserves the 2021 Heisman Trophy.

EPISODE 9: If Kenneth Walker wins the Heisman, I hope he has some words recalling George Webster and the 1966 Heisman Trophy voting.


CORRECTING ESPN on the record of Duffy Daugherty’s legacy

EPISODE 8: Michigan State coach Duffy Daugherty, whose 1960s teams were college football’s first fully integrated rosters, was egregiously and inaccurately cast in ESPN’s 150th college football anniversary series as a coach who recruited Black athletes merely to win football games.


A conversation with Ken Burns, thanks to the National Sports Media Association.

EPISODE 7: Ken Burns (click on video below) on a Michigan State football as an important story to tell and to understand. And announcement at the end about Raye of Light being adapted into a screen play.



These video stories are on Michigan State’s leading role in college football integration and taken from “Raye of Light.” Duffy Daugherty’s 1960s teams formed college football’s first fully integrated rosters, blazing a trail for the rest of the nation to follow. Daugherty recruited players escaping segregation in the South through a network of southern Black high school coaches. Sportswriters sometimes called Duffy’s teams the Underground Railroad, a respectful nod of bravery to Harriett Tubman. Michigan State fight song snippet played with permission from the school.

Click here for lengthy list of Duffy Daugherty’s Michigan State Great Northward Football Migration milestones.


JIMMY RAYE, the most socially significant Spartan from the Underground Railroad teams.

EPISODE 6: Jimmy Raye (click on video below) was a pioneer Black quarterback in the 1960s and a pioneer Black college coach as well as in the NFL.


GEORGE WEBSTER, the Greatest Spartan

EPISODE 5: George Webster (click on video below) remains the “Greatest Spartan of Them All.” Notre Dame All-American linebacker Jim Lynch, the 1966 Maxwell Award winner and 12-year NFL veteran with the Kansas City Chiefs, says Webster should have won the 1966 Heisman Trophy.



EPISODE 4 (click on video below): The curious choice of Big Ten football naming its Coach of the Year Award for Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler. It should be for pioneers — Michigan State’s Duffy Daugherty, Minnesota’s Murray Warmath or Northwestern’s Dennis Green.



EPISODE 3: Bubba Smith (click on video below), the most famous of Spartan of Duffy’s Underground Railroad teams. The inimitable Bubba loved a parade.



EPISODE 2 (click on video below): Why isn’t Michigan State’s history better known?



EPISODE 1 (click on video below): The foundation of Michigan State’s Great Northward Football Migration.


Prologue episode from NMSA: Tom Shanahan reading from Raye of Light at the 2019 National Media Sports Association Book Festival in Winston-Salem, N.C.


Underground Railroad Minutes are videos from Tom Shanahan discussing the historical impact of Michigan State coach Duffy Daugherty’s 1960s Underground Railroad teams. The Spartans set new standards for unprecedented numbers of Black athletes, Black starters, Black team captains and Black quarterbacks. Daugherty’s effort was aided by southern Black high school coaches laying the tracks, sending him their athletes to escape segregation. Michigan State’s success, including back-to-back 1965 and 1966 national championships, led to Alabama desegregating by 1971 and to USC to recruit beyond a half-dozen or so Black athletes. Tom is an award winning sports writer and author of “Raye of Light: Jimmy Raye, Duffy Daugherty, the 1965-66 Michigan State Spartans and college football integration.” The video information is taken from the pages of “Raye of Light.”


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