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The Underground Railroad quote book

Michigan State football coach Duffy Daugherty graced cover October 8, 1956, edition of Time Magazine. The article featured his personality and success on his way the College Football Hall of Fame. Daugherty’s 1965 and 1966 teams transformed college football, including a place in the 1966 Game of the Century against Notre Dame.

From Time Magazine:

“For Daugherty has neither the portentous air nor commanding presence of the typical big-time football coach. He is cheerfully irreverent in a profession of solemn ulcer cases, a merry man with an Irishman’s gregariousness and a leprechaun’s smile.”


Here are quotes from nationally known figures outside the Michigan State universe who praised Duffy Daugherty’s leadership. His 1960s teams were the first fully integrated rosters in college football. The quotes are found in “THE RIGHT THING TO DO, The True Pioneers of College Football Integration in the 1960s.” The book is available for pre-order.

Whatever you’ve read about the 1970 USC-Alabama game as a tipping point, forget it. See below.


DENNIS THOMAS, Retired MEAC Commissioner and College Football Hall of Fame player from Alcorn State.

“Obviously, Duffy Daugherty was a very successful coach, but I have more respect for him as a human being. He didn’t see color. He saw performance. He saw character. He was doing it before it was fashionable.

“I want to commend you for chronicling and bringing those stories into the public light. I want to tell you how much respect I have for Duffy Daugherty and for you telling the stories.”


GENE SMITH, Ohio State athletic director and former Notre Dame player and assistant coach.

“Duffy is an iconic coach who accomplished so much in his time. He’s deserving of it. He was a leader who embraced diversity and opportunity for people of color.

“For Duffy, it wasn’t just about winning football games. It was more than that. It was about making sure opportunities were provided. That’s what people need to know about Duffy. I think it’s important Michigan State recognizes him and tells his story that is so important.”


JERRY LEVIAS, former SMU and NFL player from Beaumont, Texas, on Willie Ray Smith Sr., a legendary high school coach in Beaumont, Texas, during segregation, steering players a Houston area known as the Golden Triangle to Daugherty’s Underground Railroad.

““Duffy got a lot of f us from Golden Triangle. Everybody knew about Duffy Daugherty and Michigan State. Duffy was at the right time, and he was way ahead of his time.”

RUFUS CORMIER, former SMU player from Beaumont, Texas, on his 1966 recruiting trip to Michigan State.

“I was very impressed with Duffy. I talked to Michigan State’s players, and they loved it there. Bubba, of course, had a great experience. I was friends with Tody (Smith). But I didn’t like the cold weather.”

GARLAND BOYETTE, former Grambling and NFL player on the unwritten quota that limited Black players toa half-dozen or so. Boyette was the NFL’s first Black middle linebacker with the St. Louis Cardinals, in 1962.

“We knew there were schools in the north that took Black players, but we also knew there were only about six spots for Black players on the team.”


More from Jerry LeVias, who ultimately picked SMU over MSU and was the first Black scholarship football player in the Southwest Conference.

“Michigan State should be proud of what they did. Instead of sitting back and waiting for someone to tell their story, if I was a Michigan State recruiter in a living room with a kid’s family, I’d be saying, ‘Do you know the history of Michigan State?’”


WILBUR HACKETT, the SEC’s first Black team captain at Kentucky in 1968 had planned to board Duffy Daugherty’s Underground Railroad until Kentucky desegregated, in 1966, and his parents wanted him to stay home.

“I met Duffy and spent some time with him; he was a great man. He made me feel like Michigan State was the right place for me. He was open and genuine. I loved my time there. The people were so nice. Duffy was so genuine about recruiting African American athletes. I spent time with Bubba and Webster and other guys. Bubba was as big as a house.”


LESTER McCLAIN, Tennessee’s first Black player in 1967, who was a senior in 1969 when the Volunteers’ integrated roster routed all-white Alabama 41-14 at Legion Field in Birmingham. This was one year before USC routed Alabama at Legion Field, but myths and fiction crafted about the 1970 USC-Alabama game have overshadowed the true pioneers of college football integration in the 1960s.

“I’ve watched those documentaries and other things on ESPN. Listening to those stories, I’m thinking, ‘I guess we didn’t play in the same conference as Alabama.’ They don’t say anything about our game.”

HOWELL RAINES, Alabama native, Alabama football fan, Alabama fans and retired New York Times executive editor on the myths about the 1970 USC-Alabama game becoming entrenched and usurping credit from the true pioneers of the 1960s at other schools.

“The popular misconception worked its way into national folklore with the aid of poorly researched sports writing.”


BOB GRANT, one of the first three Black freshmen recruits in the ACC in 1964 and the first Black player from a southern college drafted in by the NFL (1967, second round, Baltimore Colts), recalled a conversation between among three NFL veterans, Grant, Long Beach State’s Reggie Berry and USC’s Sam Cunningham.

Grant recalled, “Reggie told Sam ‘You know, you guys didn’t integrate the South.”

“Yes, yes, we did,” Cunningham replied.

Berry proceeded to tell the story of Grant and other true 1960s pioneers. Cunningham expressed surprise.

“I didn’t know that,” he said.


From RAYE of LIGHT, Chapter 11, The Passen0gers, Page 134:

“In all, 44 Black high school recruits from the South boarded Daugherty’s Underground Railroad from 1959 through his final season in 1972. Thirty of the 44 recruits graduated — 68 percent. That was double the nationwide rate when the NCAA was forced to address the poor graduation record of African AMerican football players in the 1970s and 1980s.”


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. 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 The Right Thing To Do


The True Pioneers of College Football Integration in the 1960s

Foreword by Ruffin McNeill


Click here to purchase Raye of Light.


Jimmy Raye, Duffy Daugherty, the 1ntegration of College Football and the 1965-66 Michigan State Spartans

Foreword by Tony Dungy


Click here to purchase my children’s book, Bubba’s Dad, Duffy and College Football’s Underground Railroad

The book for now is only a Kindle version on Amazon. Print and audio platforms available soon.


Coming soon for Christmas, my next children’s book: How Duffy Put Hawaii on the Football Map


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