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Podcast series, Growing Green: A Football Family

Growing Green: A Football Family is a 19-part series on Michigan State football from Biggie Munn and Duffy Daugherty through Mark Dantonio and now head coach Mel Tucker.

The episodes air at 4:30 p.m. ET each Thursday on The Drive with Jack, mid-Michigan’s sports talk show hosted by Jack Ebling. Con Demos and I join Jack each week with our historical perspective from our books. Ebling was named the Michigan Sportscaster of the Year by the National Sports Media Association.

November 23, Click here. Episode 19 is the final episode of the series. The focus was on the family of MSU brothers that have played for the Spartans. It begins with three generations of the Bullough family. Lou Ann Bullough, wife the late Hank Bullough, a former Spartans player and coach, joined the show. Their sons Shane and Chuck played for the Spartans. Shane’s sons Max, Riley and Byron played football at Michigan State and his daughter Holly ran cross country and track. Also joining the show was Jim Proebstle to talk about his career on the 1965 Rose Bowl/national championship team and his late brother, Dick, who was an MSU quarterback. The Ducketts, Tico and Todd, appeared together. Jack Allen appeared to discuss his MSU career that included two brothers, Brian and Matt. At the end, Con Demos, Tom Shanahan and Jack Ebling discuss their final thoughts on the series.

November 10, Click here. Episode 18 is the second of two parts of the Mark Dantonio era. The Spartans won Big Ten titles in 2010, 2013 and 2015 and a divisional title in 2011. The 2013 team also won the Rose Bowl and the 2015 Spartans advanced to the College Football Playoff. Dantonio joined the show followed by a parade of his former players: Aaron Bates, Bennie Fowler, Darquez Dennard and Michael Geiger. The Spartans finished a three-year stretch with Final Top 10 rankings: No. 3 in 2013, No. 5 in 2014 and No. 6 in 2015.

November 3, Click here. Episode 17 is the first of two parts on the Mark Dantonio era. Dantonio arrived in 2007 and quickly threw down the gauntlet against Michigan. The guests are Kaleb Thornhill, Keith Nichol and Otis Wiley. Thornhill and Wiley discuss the standards Dantonio established for the program upon his arrival. Nichol was a celebrate high school quarterback Lowell who transferred back home from Oklahoma. He converted to wide receiver in a prolific career, including the winning score on a Hail Mary! pass against Wisconsin.

— October 27, Click here. Episode 16 covers the transition years from Nick Saban to Mark Dantonio. Bobby Williams was promoted to head coach from Saban’s staff with the support of the players. He was fired after the three season and replaced by John L. Smith, whose up-and-down tenure ended when he was fired with three games remaining. Wide receiver Herb Haygood, quarterback Jeff Smoker and quarterback Drew Stanton are guests.

October 20, Click here. Episode 15 continues with Nick Saban’s years, 1995-99. Interesting comments from Tony Banks, Sedrick Irvin, Julian Peterson and Jason Stayhorn on Saban. Banks says he was never coached better, college or the NFL, than under Saban. Banks led the Spartans on a game-winning touchdown drive to upset No. 7 Michigan, 28-25. He also has interesting thoughts on Saban as a recruiter. Irvin played 1996 to 1998, turning pro in 1999. The Spartans were 10-2 in the 1999 season, Saban’s final one before jumping to LSU. Irvin says Saban tells him if he had stayed at MSU in 1999, the Spartans win the national title. “He always tries to make me feel bad about that,” Irivn said with humor. If so, who knows what happens? Maybe Saban still jumps to the NFL, but maybe the Spartans don’t go into the tailspin it did under Bobby Williams and John L. Smith.

— October 13, Click here. Episode 14 continues on the George Perles era, 1983-94. Perles rebuilt the program to win the 1987 Big Ten title and Rose Bowl victory through the program’s decline in the early 1990s. The guests include Shane Bullough, John Miller and Mill Coleman.

— October 6, Click here. Episode 13 covers the arrival of George Perles to rebuild the program from the Muddy Waters era. Perlas had played for and coached under Daugherty before his success on Chuck Noll’s staff with the Pittsburgh Steelers Super Bowl dynasty. Perles’ teams upset Notre Dame in 1983 and Michigan in 1984 while building the program toward the 1987 Big Ten title and Rose Bowl win over USC. Guests include Charlie Baggett, Lorenzo White, Tony Mandarich, Blake Ezor and Steve Montgomery.

— September 28, Click here. Episode 12 is a day earlier due to scheduling complications, but the content exploring Michigan State football history remains enticing. This week’s show focuses on the Darryl Rogers years, 1976-79. Featured guests include Kirk Gibson, Dan Bass and Morten Andersen. I also comment on Rogers motivating Larry Beatha to reach is potential as a senior. Bethea remains the only defensive player to outright win the Big Ten Chicago Tribune Silver Trophy as its most valuable player without playing on a conference championship team.

September 22, Click here. Episode 11 features Barry Switzer, Joe DeLamilleure, John Shinksky, Charlie Baggett, Tom Hannon and Denny Stolz. The discussion centers on Duffy’s final win over Ohio State in 1972 upon retirement and Michigan State’s early years after Daugherty. Switzer was Oklahoma’s offensive coordinator under head coach Chuck Fairbanks, a Daugherty disciple. Switzer talks about his close friendship with Duffy Daugherty through Fairbanks. He was one of four finalists to succeed Daugherty along with Stolz, Lee Corso and Johnny Majors.

— September 15, Click here. Episode 10 features Clint Jones, Jimmy Raye and Turf Kaufmann. Jones was part of the 1967 NFL draft that changed the face of the NFL. College football’s first fully integrated rosters at Michigan State began to spread throughout the college game and eventually was reflected in the NFL draft. Four of the top eight picks in 1967 were Black athletes from Michigan State: 1. Bubba Smith, Colts; 2. Clint Jones, Vikings; 5. George Webster, Oilers; 8. Gene Washington, Vikings. In all, 10 of the 26 first-round picks in 1967 were Black. In 1966, there were only five Black players chosen in the first round and in 1965 only three. Jimmy Raye talks about his success against Michigan despite a difficult senior season in 1967. Kaufmann discusses why he believes the program’s winning record suffered in Duffy’s final seasons. Raye also commented on the producers of the movie “Black Spartans” failing to contact him or other MSU players.

September 8, Click here. Episode 9 spans the 1966 co-national title season, including the buildup to the Game of the Centry, No. 1 Notre Dame against No. 2 Michigan State on November 19, 1966 at Spartan Stadium. Jerry West, an All-American offensive tackle, and Jim Summers, a two-year starting cornerback, join the show. Lucy Wedemeyer also is featured to tell the story of her late husband Charlie Wedemeyer the Hawaiian Pipeline Spartans. Charlie was a high school coach at Los Gatos High in the San Francisco Bay Area when he was afflicted with ALS, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. He continued to coach, with Lucy reading his lips to relay calls. There was a TV movie, Quiet Victory, and PBS Documentary, One More Season, based on their story.

— September 2, Click here. Episode 8 covers Michigan State’s 1965 national championship team that ranks as one of college football’s all-time greatest teams. The Spartans finished the regular season winning the Big Ten title with a 7-0 record and 10-0 overall mark. They limited Michigan (-51), Ohio State (-22) and Notre Dame (-12) to a combined minus 85 yards rushing (with sacks factored added in). Michigan State won the UPI national title, the National Football Foundation title and was named co-champions by the Football Writers Association. Michigan State, though, was upset in the Rose Bowl by UCLA, 14-12, a team the Spartans defeated in the season-opener, 13-3. In those days, the polls were voted upon at the end of the regular season, but the Associated Press experimented with a voting after the bowl games. That led to Alabama voted as the AP national champion and co-FWAA champs with a 9-1-1 record compared to the Spartans’ 10-1-0 mark.

August 25, Click here. Episode 7. The Underground Railroad began with southern Black high school coaches contacting Duffy Daugherty and sending him their players. They trusted him from Michigan State’s reputation for integrated rosters seen on TV in the 1954 and 1956 Rose Bowl games. Daugherty smashed the quotas that other schools, including USC, followed in the 1960s that limited their Black athletes to a half-dozen or so. Ernie Pasteur of Beaufort, N.C., and Gene Washington of La Porte, Texas, appear as guests discussing their experiences.

— August 18, Click here. Episode 6. In the years from 1956 to 1964, the Spartans continued to earn national rankings and turn out pro football talent, but they came up short in Rose Bowl bids. Sherman Lewis of Louisville, Kentucky, was Duffy Daugherty’s first Underground Railroad player to earn All-Big Ten (1962) and All-American (1963) honors. 

August 11, Click here: Episode 5. Michigan State won its first two Rose Bowls in 1954 and 1956, establishing the Spartans as a national brand with TV audiences. In the 1956 game, Dave Kaiser kicked a game-winning field goal with 7 seconds to play to beat UCLA, 17-14. The Spartans’ Black stars scoring touchdowns in the 1954 and 1956 Rose Bowls were noticed throughout the segregated South. The attention eventually led to the Underground Railroad. 

August 4Click here for Episode 4. Michigan State’s early Big Ten history includes the coaching transition from Biggie Munn to Duffy Daugherty. Wayne Benson was a star fullback/halfback for the Spartans on Biggie Munn’s 1950 and 1951 teams when Daugherty was the line coach. As athletic director, Munn emphasized having an all-around athletic program.

— July 29: Click here for Episode 3.  Clarence “Biggie” Munn was hired by John Hannah to build a national football power, and the prestige helped the Spartans gained Big Ten admission. Munn was 54-9-2 in seven years with a national title in 1951 and a 1954 Rose Bowl victory. He served as athletic director and handed the football reins to his top assistant, Duffy Daugherty.

— July 21: Click here for Episode 2. John Hannah’s legacy for the university and athletics program with guests Ernest Green, a Civil Rights leader and the first graduate among the 1957 Little Rock Nine, and LouAnna K. Simon, a former Michigan State president, 2003 to 2018.

— July 14: Click here for the first episode. The 1966 Game of the Century with guests Michigan State All-American fullback Bob Apisa and Notre Dame All-American center and NFL veteran George Goeddeke, a native Detroiter.

Our goal is to expand knowledge of Michigan State’s great history from John Hannah to the days of Biggie Munn and Duffy Daugherty years to the current state of the program under Mark Dantonio and now Mel Tucker. MSU fans, especially younger ones, are largely unaware of MSU winning national titles while leading college football integration alongside the Civil Rights movement. One reason has been the number of MSU outsiders in administration and the football office from the 1970s forward. They failed to understand and celebrate the history.

Daugherty was not a self-promotor, and his leadership in the 1960s went unrecognized in the media in an era when race wasn’t discussed on the sports pages. Consequently, myths and fiction crafted two decades after the 1970 USC-Alabama game was played filled the vacuum. The misleading tales overtook college football lore. They were promoted in in books and films on national networks at the expense of the true 1960s pioneers.

Michigan State’s role has been unfairly overshadowed while remaining unappreciated and misunderstood. Listen here and read Raye of Light for the true story.

Purchase Raye of Light from August Publications here.

Click here for the TV announcement (July 10) of the series on Jack’s TV show, Press Pass on Con and I appear with Jack in the segment with 19:10 remaining in the show.


By Con Demos

RAYE of LIGHT by Tom Shanahan

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

By Tom Shanahan. Foreword by Tony Dungy.

Click here to purchase Raye of Light from August Publications.

My upcoming book with purchase information to be announced soon.


By Tom Shanahan. Foreword by Ruffin McNeill. Prologue by Mel Tucker

For more on Michigan State history click here for Duffy Daugherty’s Milestone Minutes and click here for The End Game.


I invite you to follow me on Twitter @shanny4055.

I tell untold stories about college football integration focused but not limited to Michigan State’s 1960s leadership under College Football Hall of Fame coach Duffy Daugherty. However, I learned from writing “Raye of Light” presenting the facts is not enough. Myths and fiction distorting the role of Alabama coach Bear Bryant and the 1970 USC-Alabama game have been entrenched into college football lore at the expense of the true pioneers, North and South. My story exposing Bear Bryant as a segregationist coach attempting to manipulate a backdoor entry into the 1962 Rose Bowl was awarded first place for Enterprise in the Football Writers Association of America’s 30th annual contest for the 2021 season. First Place for Enterprise story.

Click here to order Raye of Light from August Publications.

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