GRAPHIC (6th Block Creative): Quarterback Jimmy Raye (16), head coach Duffy Daugherty and co-captain Clinton Jones (26).
Research for these lists date to 2012 and writing “Raye of Light: Jimmy Raye, Duffy Daugherty, the 1965-66 Michigan State Spartans and the integration of college football,” August Publications. Foreword by Tony Dungy.
By TOM SHANAHAN
Duffy Daugherty’s Michigan State ground-breaking 1960s teams with a Great Northward Football Migration featured giants of the game recruited from the segregated South. They added to Michigan State’s history of Black stars leading Midwest-based rosters. Daugherty’s teams with players escaping the segregated South were called the Underground Railroad, a metaphoric nod to Harriet Tubman’s courage to use secret passages and safehouses to lead slaves to freedom.
Daugherty also was diversity pioneer with his Hawaiian Pipeline. The stars recruited from Hawaii launched tsunami wave of Polynesian talent that permeates all levels of football.
THE 1960s UNDERGROUND RAILROAD TEAMS
— 1959 to 1972, 44 passengers boarded, escaping segregation for East Lansing. Their hometowns in the South represented 10 of 13 Jim Crow states — all but Maryland, Tennessee and Alabama.
— College Football’s first fully integrated rosters: In 1962, the Associated Press reported Michigan State’s 17 Black athletes “represented the largest delegation of Negro athletes in the history of major college football.”
— 1965 national champion (10-1), named by United Press International (now USA Today), the National Football Foundation and as co-champions by the Football Writers Association of America (Alabama, 9-1-1, was voted Associated Press champion and FWAA co-champ). The Spartans had 23 Black players and 10 Black starters during a period with segregation in the South and a status quo at integrated schools limiting rosters to a half-dozen or fewer Black players.
— 1966 national champion (9-0-1), named co-champions by the National Football Foundation. Michigan State and Notre Dame played to a 10-10 in the Game of the Century and finished with 9-0-1 records. The Spartans were the future with 20 Black players and 11 Black starters and a starting Black quarterback, Jimmy Raye. Notre Dame was the past with one Black player.
— Back-to-back unbeaten Big Ten titles, 1965 and 1966. No Big Ten school matched back-to-back unbeaten Big Ten titles until Ohio State in 2019 (9-0) and in its truncated 2020 (5-0) season.
— South’s first Black quarterback to win a national title, Jimmy Raye of Fayetteville, N.C.
— First all-minority backfield: QB, Jimmy Raye (Black, Fayetteville, N.C.); FB, Bob Apisa (Samoan, Honolulu, Hi.); HB, Clinton Jones (Black, Cleveland, Ohio); HB, Dwight Lee (Black, Detroit, Mich).
— First pair of Black team captains as voted by players, without a white teammate sharing the role, George Webster and Clinton Jones.
— First Underground Railroad All-American player, Sherman Lewis, 1963, third in the Heisman Trophy voting.
— First Underground Railroad All-Big Ten player, Sherman Lewis, 1961.
— First Underground Railroad player, Clifton Roaf, Pine Bluff, Arkansas, 1959. Roaf never played a down due to a knee in spring football his freshman year. Yet, he said he remained “indebted to the people of Michigan State” for his degree. He returned home to Pine Bluff as a dentist for 40-plus years. “
— Academic record: Of the 44 Underground Railroad passengers, 30 graduated (68 percent). Only 10 earned All-Big Ten or All-American honors. Daugherty’s scholarship players were about more than football. By contrast, in the 1980s the national graduation rate for Black football players was 30 percent, forcing the NCAA to crack down on schools exploiting Black athletes.
— Black Coaches: Daugherty hired two pioneering Black college assistant coaches who went on to careers as NFL offensive coordinators, Sherman Lewis and Jimmy Raye. Daugherty hired Don Coleman among the nation’s first Black college assistant coaches in 1968, but Coleman didn’t stay in coaching. Coleman was a College Football Hall of Famer from Flint, Michigan. Lewis coached at MSU 1969-80, and 16 NFL seasons, with four Super Bowl rings, XIX, XXIII, XXIV, XXXI. Daugherty hired Raye at MSU 1971-75, and Raye coached 36 years in the NFL. He was one of the first Black offensive coordinators with the Los Angeles Rams in 1983. When the San Francisco 49ers hired Raye in 1977, there were only seven other Black assistant coaches among 28 teams.
— Black Head coach: Tyrone Willingham of Jacksonville, N.C., was recruited by Jimmy Raye among Daugherty’s final Underground Railroad class, 1972. Willingham played football and baseball for the Spartans. Willingham was the first Black head coach to take a team to the Rose Bowl (Stanford, 1999 season) and the first Black head coach in any sport at Notre Dame (2002-04). Willingham considered Raye and Lewis mentors and says he’s embarrassed they didn’t receive the chance he gained.
— The Next Generation coaches: Two Black recruits in Daugherty’s final 1972 recruiting class entered coaching. In addition to Willingham, quarterback Charlie Baggett, who had been recruited by Raye out of E.E. Smith in Fayetteville, N.C., transferred from North Carolina to Michigan State in 1972 when he was moved from quarterback to wide receiver. Raye and Lewis mentored both Willingham and Baggett in their coaching careers at the college and pro levels. Baggett coached 14 seasons over two stints at Michigan State, including as an associate head coach, 1995-98. He coached 11 years in the NFL, including as an associate head coach with the Miami Dolphins, 2005-06.
— Final Underground Railroad class: Willingham was one of six Black players from the South in his final recruiting class. Six was more than entire rosters at the last three Southeastern Conference schools to desegregate in 1972, University of Georgia (3), Louisianan State University (one) and University of the Mississippi (one).
COLLEGE FOOTBALL HALL OF FAMERS, 1960s teams
— Head coach Duffy Daugherty, enshrined 1984.
— Four players: George Webster, enshrined 1986; Bubba Smith, 1987; Gene Washington, 2012; Clinton Jones, 2015.
— First four Black players from the same class enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame was another Michigan State milestone. They also formed the first four in the same class since from any school 1940.
MICHIGAN STATE HALL OF FAME
— Seven players, representing the full roster from the 1965-66 championship teams: George Webster, Bubba Smith, Gene Washington, Clinton Jones, Steve Juday, Bob Apisa, Jimmy Raye.
— Two coaches from the 1965-66 championship teams: Duffy Daugherty and defensive coordinator Hank Bullough.
— Two more Underground Railroad players: Sherman Lewis (Louisville, Kentucky), Eric Allen (Georgetown, S.C).
POLYNESIAN FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME
— Bob Apisa was enshrined with the 2018 class. He is considered the godfather of Polynesian football as the first Samoan All-American player in the 1965 and 1966 seasons.
— Charlie Wedemeyer was enshrined with the 2021 class.
— Four of the first eight picks of the 1967 NFL draft were Spartans: 1st, Bubba Smith, Baltimore Colts; 2nd, Clinton Jones, Minnesota Vikings; 5th, George Webster, Houston Oilers; 8th, Gene Washington, Minnesota Vikings. No school has matched the run.
— Eight seniors in the 1967 NFL draft: Smith, Jones, Webster, Washington, Charlie Thornhill, Jeff Richardson, Jim Summers, Dick Kenney,
— 1954-1980, 11 players recruited from Hawaii when it was still a lightly recruited state.
— Bob Apisa, Honolulu Farrington, was the first Samoan All-American player as a two-time All-American pick, 1965-66. He is credited with launching the wave of Polynesian talent that permeates football at all levels. Apisa was drafted by the Green Bay Packers when Vince Lombardi served as general manager, but knee injuries cut short his chances.
— Larry Cundiff, Honolulu Iolani, was the first Hawaiian Pipeline All-Big Ten pick, 1959.
— William Kaae, Honolulu Farrington, was the first Hawaiian Pipeline player, 1955.
— Hawaiians 11, Ohio State 8: On Oct. 15, 1966, at Ohio State, Michigan State’s fourth-quarter comeback to win 11-8 preserved the unbeaten season. Bob Apisa scored six points on a touchdown, Dick Kenney three on a field goal and Charlie Wedemeyer caught a two-point conversion pass. The headline in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin: Hawaiians 11, Ohio State 8.
— Hawaiian Pipeline NFL players: Jim Nicholson, six seasons; Charles Ane, seven seasons; Arnold Morgado, four seasons.
1966 GAME OF THE CENTURY
— Nov. 19, 1966, at Spartan Stadium: No. 1 Notre Dame 10, No. 2 Michigan State 10.
— Record TV audience, 33 million – more than Super Bowl I two months later.
— National co-champions: Michigan State and Notre Dame played to a 10-10 tie before overtime rules and finished with 9-0-1 records. They were named co-champs by the National Football Foundation. Notre Dame entered the game ranked No. 1 and MSU No. 2. The AP, UPI and FWAA polls kept Notre Dame No. 1.
— NFF’s Vincent DePaul Draddy: “The reasons are rather obvious why we divided the award. It seemed like the only fair thing to do with a couple of excellent teams like Notre Dame and Michigan State.”
— Seven 1967 first-round draft picks. Michigan State: Bubba Smith, Clinton Jones, George Webster and Gene Washington. Notre Dame: Paul Seiler, Alan Page and Tom Regner. Add in the juniors and sophomores (freshmen were ineligible until 1972) on the field that day and there were 10 first-rounders, 42 overall draft picks, 33 pro players and 25 with All-American honors. There were six College Football Hall of Famers, Michigan State’s foursome and Notre Dame’s Alan Page and Jim Lynch.
— Heisman Trophy voting, three players from the two schools finished in the Top 10 of the 1966 Heisman Trophy voting: Notre Dame’s Nick Eddy, third; Michigan State’s Clinton Jones, sixth; and Notre Dame’s Terry Hanratty, eighth.
— Overall numbers tabulating draft picks, pro players and All-Americans among the three classes on the field (freshmen were eligible until 1972) totaled 10 first-round picks, 42 overall draft picks, 33 pro players and 25 All-Americans. The 1966 juniors were taken in the 1968 draft and the 1966 sophomores in the 1969 draft.
— Terry Hanratty, Notre Dame’s quarterback: “I still say to this day those are the two best teams to ever play each other. You look at the amount of talent that was on both sides of the field.”
GAME OF THE CENTURY QUARTERBACK QUOTES
On the attendance, with 80,011 fans squeezing into 76,000-seat Spartan Stadium:
— Michigan State’s Jimmy Raye: “I think I’ve met all 80,011 based on how many have told me they were at the game.”
— Notre Dame’s Terry Hanratty: “Tell Jimmy I’ve surpassed him. I’m at 200,000. It’s like Woodstock.”
— Jimmy Raye on Duffy Daugherty starting a Black quarterback: “Daugherty was one of the most courageous persons I’ve had the privilege to be associated with in my athletic career. I can only imagine the pressure he must have been under and received when he made the decision to make me the starting quarterback in the mid-1960s. Most of the things that happened to me in my coaching career — if not all — came as a direct result of the opportunities he gave me. I will be forever grateful for the courage he had and the kind of individual he was to give a chance to a young man who was denied a chance in the South to pursue and academic and athletic career.”
— Terry Hanratty on Michigan State as his second choice to picking Notre Dame: “Duffy Daugherty was such a wonderful human being. No one can ever turn me against Michigan State. When I told Ara (Parseghian) I was coming to Notre Dame, I knew I had to call Duffy. I’m thinking, ‘This is going to be horrible’ because you hear all these stories about coaches jumping on kids. I told Duffy, and he went on for 20 minutes about what great school Notre Dame was and what a great guy Ara was. He made that very difficult call for a 17-year-old kid special. I’ll always have a fondness for Michigan State because of Duffy.”
NOTE: None of the Underground Railroad players were sent to Daugherty by Alabama coach Bear Bryant. There have been many myths created to obfuscate Bryant’s foot dragging on desegregation, and they have been at the expense of Daugherty and other true 1960s pioneers. Bryant was forced to state in a 1969 deposition he was unaware of an African-American football recruits. He had been sued by the Alabama Afro American student association for failing to recruit Black athletes despite the campus having desegregated in 1963.
HBO, Showtime and ESPN trot out Alabama author Keith Dunnavant, providing him a platform for misleading information that obfuscates Bear Bryant dragging his feet on college football integration.
Here’s what Dunnavant and Bear Bryant’s Alabama apologists don’t tell you when they claim Alabama was robbed a third straight national title based on reverse racism. They say since Alabama won 1964 and 1965 national titles, voters decided a segregated team can’t be voted No. 1. This ignores that Texas was voted national champion in 1969 as the last all-white team. It also ignores Alabama’s 1964 and 1965 national titles were both split.
The NCAA recognizes four organizations as designating an official national champion. Here’s how the numbers add up if we award one point for each title:
1964 national champions
AP, UPI — Alabama, 2.0
FWAA — Arkansas, 1.0
NFF — Notre Dame, 1.0
1965 national champions
AP and co-FWAA — Alabama, 2.0
UPI, NFF and co-FWAA — Michigan State, 2.5
1966 national champions
AP, UPI, FWAA, co-NFF — Notre Dame, 3.5
NFF co-champions — Michigan State, 0.5
So, how does the three-year period add up for the teams?
OUT OF 12 TOTAL POINTS
— Notre Dame 4.5.
— Alabama 3.5.
— Michigan State 3.0
— Arkansas 1.0.
When the combined records for the three school’s with titles spanning two seasons, here are the totals:
— Michigan State: 10-1-0 plus 9-0-1 = 19-1-1, 90.4 percent
— Notre Dame: 9-1-0 plus 9-0-1 = 18-1-1, 90.0 percent
— Alabama: 10-1-0 plus 9-1-1 = 19-2-1, 86.3 percent
By any accounting, Alabama didn’t dominate the 1964 and 1965 seasons as Bear Bryant’s apologists for his poor segregation record want college football fans to believe.
Another difference to consider is Alabama never played any of its 22 games in 1964 and 1965 above the Mason-Dixon Line and 21 of their 22 opponents were all-white teams. The same is true in 1966, when eight of 11 games were played within Alabama’s state borders. There were four at Legion Field in Birmingham, three at Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa and one at Ladd Stadium in Mobile.
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