PHOTO: NC State football coach Earle Edwards.
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By TOM SHANAHAN
NC State historian Tim Peeler and NC State ground-breaking running back Charley Young will join me to discuss the Wolfpack football legacy that Earle Edwards established as the school’s head coach, 1954-70. The March 8 event is part of the Raleigh Sports Club’s weekly luncheons.
RALEIGH PORTS CLUB
March 8: Lunch, 11:30 a.m. Program, noon to 1 p.m. Admission, $20.
Highland United Methodist Church
1901 Ridge Road, Raleigh, NC, 27607
Subject: NC State football history under Earle Edwards
Panel: Tim Peeler, Charley Young and Tom Shanahan
Edwards arrived after NC State suffered through a 1-9 record in 1953 that was the Wolfpack’s fifth losing mark in six seasons. He revived it the remainder of the decade and then desegregated the program in 1967. Of the eight ACC members in the 1960s, NC State was the third football program to integrate following Maryland (1963) and Wake Forest (1964).
He retired following the 1970 season with 77 wins, a total that remains the school record. Current Wolfpack coach Dave Doeren, with 72 victories, enters the 2023 season within range of topping the mark, but Edwards’ influence on NC State football extends beyond numbers.
The school considered dropping football in the early 1950s. It was losing money and played in an antiquated 19,000-seat facility, Riddick Stadium. By Edwards’ fourth season, 1957, Edwards won the first of his five ACC titles. The success was followed by three straight conference championships, 1963-65. Momentum in the early 1960s grew to build a new stadium, and Carter Stadium (now Carter-Finley) opened in 1966.
Edwards desegregated the program when Marcus Martin made the team as a walk-on athlete in 1967 during spring football. That same spring, Alabama coach Bear Bryant cut five Black players who tried to make his roster. Alabama remained all-white until 1970.
In 1969, Clyde Chesney also made the Wolfpack roster as a walk-on and cracked the starting lineup at midseason. Edwards awarded Chesney a scholarship for the 1970 and 1971 season as the school’s first scholarship African American football player. As a senior in 1971, Chesney set another milestone as NC State’s first Black football player to earn post-season honors. He was named to the Academic All-ACC team.
In the 1970 season, Edwards awarded scholarships to his first two Black players recruited out of high school — Enloe High teammates Charley Young and the late Willie Burden. Freshmen were ineligible by NCAA rules until 1972, so Young and Burden played on the 1970 freshmen team before they were varsity stars, 1971-73.
NC State won a 1973 ACC title under head coach Lou Holtz, who coached the Wolfpack from 1972-75. Young, Burden, Stan Fritts and Roland Hicks formed the Wolfpack’s backfield known as “The Stallions.” In 1973, tThey accounted for 2,995 yards rushing, an average of 273.2 per game.
The Dallas Cowboys drafted Young in the first round, in 1974. He played three seasons until a knee injury in 1977. He was on injured reserve when the Cowboys won Super Bowl XII in the 1977 season. He returned home to work for the Wake County Sheriff’s Department. He worked in juvenile investigations and retired after 28 years.
Burden, who died in 2015, was the ACC Player of the Year in 1973. He played nine seasons with the Calgary Stampeders in the Canadian Football and is enshrined in the CFL Hall of Fame. He also is in the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame. Burden earned a Master’s at Ohio University and a Ph.d at Tennessee Tech. He was a professor at Georgia Southern at the time of his death.
Edwards arrived at NC State from Michigan State. He and Duffy Daugherty were assistant coaches on head coach Biggie Munn’s 1952 national championship team and 1953 Big Ten title team that won the New Year’s Day 1954 Rose Bowl.
When Munn retired from coaching at the end of the 1953 season to become athletic director, Daugherty was promoted to head coach. Edwards subsequently took the NC State job to fulfill his ambition to become a head coach.
The chapter on Edwards and NC State is one of three in my upcoming book, THE RIGHT THING TO DO, on college football integration in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
— Chapter 10: NC State, Earle Edwards
— Chapter 19: Wake Forest’s Bob Grant, Kenneth Henry and William Smith, 1964
— Chapter 26: Michigan State at segregated North Carolina, 1964
Despite mythology about the 1970 USC-Alabama game, ACC schools were ahead of Southeastern Conference and Southwest Conference. The myths, crafted with fiction 20 years after the game was played, were designed to obfuscate Alabama coach Bear Bryant dragging his feet on integration until the 1970s. Similarly, USC followed an unwritten quota limiting its Black athletes to a half-dozen or so until the late 1960s.
In the 1960s, when Maryland and South Carolina were ACC members, six of the eight schools had integrated before Alabama. The last two ACC schools, Clemson and Virginia, integrated the same season as Alabama, 1970.
Duffy Daugherty’s Michigan State roster that met Notre Dame in the 1966 Game of the Century influenced schools to abandon the quota system and southern schools that were still all-white to join the 20th century. In the 1966 Game of the Century played before a record TV audience of 33 million, the Spartans lined up 20 Black players, 11 Black starters, two Black team captains, College Football Hall of Famers George Webster and Clinton Jones, and the South’s first Black quarterback to win a national title, Jimmy Raye of Fayetteville, N.C. Notre Dame had one Black player, Alan Page.
Chesney and Raye both played at Fayetteville’s Black school, E.E. Smith. Raye’s success inspired Chesney to continue his career in college when he made the roster as a walk-on player.
My upcoming book from August Publications:
THE RIGHT THING TO DO
The True Pioneers of College Football Integration in the 1960s
Foreword by Ruffin McNeill
Introduction by Mel Tucker
Why tell college football integration stories from a half-century ago? Because they were almost lost to history. This is the dedication page in “The Right Thing To Do:”
“To all the true 1960s pioneers of college football integration, Black, White, North and South, whose courage and legacies have been unjustly overshadowed by myths and fiction crafted around the 1970 USC-Alabama game. The true 1960s pioneers include Michigan State coach Duffy Daugherty’s teams and players opening doors, Duffy’s assistant coaches following his blueprint at their new schools, Duffy’s Chief Engineer to the Underground Railroad, Willie Ray Smith Sr., and the pioneers who were the first Black players on their otherwise segregated campus. The 1960s barriers they broke down cleared the way for the 1970 USC-Alabama game to be played without incident.”
As I researched the book, I met with Peeler for lunch at an NC State hangout, Amadeo’s Italian Restaurant, across the street from campus. We sat in the Earle Edwards booth.
I invite you to follow me on Twitter @shanny4055.
Click here for my story on the 1962 Rose Bowl and Segregation awarded first place by the Football Writers Association of America.
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I tell untold stories on Michigan State’s leading role and the true pioneers of college football integration. Click here to read a summary.
Click here to purchase Raye of Light.
RAYE OF LIGHT
Jimmy Raye, Duffy Daugherty, the 1ntegration of College Football and the 1965-66 Michigan State Spartans
Foreword by Tony Dungy