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Bravo! Michigan State’s proud alumni clubs

PHOTO: Jack Ebling and I were invited to celebrate Michigan State’s grand history through our books.

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By TOM SHANAHAN

Wow!

In the past four months I’ve witnessed the value of an active Michigan State Alumni club. Members of California’s Riverside County club and the MSU Club of West Michigan put on outstanding events as fundraisers for future Michigan State students.

Both clubs’ presidents, Riverside’s Rhett Hirko and West Michigan’s Jerry Jonckeere, invited me to set up a booth featuring my books that explain Michigan State coach Duffy Daugherty’s teams that led college football integration. Duffy’s fingerprints are coast to coast through his former assistants and players as head coaches. They used his blueprint of ignoring quota limitations on Black players that other schools – most prominently USC – followed.

This is the most important point too many people don’t understand.

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Duffy Daugherty’s Milestone Minutes: Episode 8, Correcting ESPN on Duffy Daugherty’s legacy

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I’m happy to report NO ONE at the West Michigan event in Grand Rapids — not a single person — asked me if I knew Alabama coach Bear Bryant sent Duffy players. This is an egregious myth that I thoroughly debunk in my books and on my website — again, debunk, not dispute as some uninformed people state. Unfortunately, the myth was an entrenched my before I dug into the archives and discovered it’s a fallacy.

I’ll have more on the fiction later in this story.

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Duffy Daugherty’s Milestone Minutes: Episode 15

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The Riverside club staged an inaugural fundraiser around the Arizona-Michigan State game over the Thanksgiving weekend in Palm Desert.

The West Michigan Club staged its 14th annual Winter Tailgate February 29 at 11 Monroe Live in downtown Grand Rapids. WOOD TV anchor Emily Linnert was the MC, and Jack Ebling of the sports radio show The Drive with Jack was the panel moderator.

The Greg Montgomery (All-American punter) Foundation was presented with its Legacy Award. The family established a foundation in Montgomery’s memory to help with students suffering from depression and suicide prevention.

My appearance on The Drive with Jack, February 29

Zeke Wonder Dog also featured with trainer Gary Eisenberg and owners/handlers Terry and Jim Foley. Eisenberg owned and trained the original Zeke, who performed chasing down frisbees at halftime from the late 1970s through 1981. The tradition was brought in 2002. Zeke IV was on stage in Grand Rapids.

Assistant athletic director Darien Harris spoke about all Michigan State sports, highlighting championships in gymnastics, women’s soccer, women’s cross country and hockey. He also provided updated on the reorganization of MSU’s Name Image and Likeness program.

He offered an interesting comparison to baseball free agency and NIL when explaining the value and risks of NIL. He noted the Texas Rangers invested in free agents and won the World Series, but the New York Mets invested heavier than the Rangers and finished with a losing record.

In other words, NIL is necessary, but it’s not guaranteed to pay off.

I’m thankful to the club invited me, but it’s more than a chance to sell books. It’s an opportunity to educate or own fanbase that Michigan State changed the face of the game nationally through Daugherty’s leadership.


Book purchase links and upcoming events

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Our own school doesn’t fully grasp the significance of Duffy’s role, so it’s only natural the fanbase possesses a superficial understanding. No three works better explain the extent of Duffy’s coast-to-coast influence than my three books:

“RAYE OF LIGHT, Jimmy Raye, Duffy Daugherty, the Integration of College Football and the 1965-66 Michigan State Spartans” focuses primarily on the 1965 and 1966 national title teams, the Underground Railroad tapping talent in the segregated South, Duffy’s Hawaiian Pipeline and the acceptance of a fully integrated roster in the locker room and on the campus. That wasn’t the case at other schools.

“THE RIGHT THING TO DO, The True Pioneers of College Football Integration in the 1960s” digs deeper into Duffy’s influence. His assistant coaches and former players used his blueprint to ignored quota limitations that were followed at other schools. Their examples “trickled up” to the rest of college football, including USC, an egregious offender in the 1950s and throughout the 1960s. Michigan State’s impact also helped open doors in the South. Those pioneers, often the only Black player on the team, helped pave the way to the 1970s through the USC-Alabama and Stanford-Arkansas games played without incident as season openers on Jim Crow turf on September 12, 1970.

Vanderbilt Sport and Society endorses The Right Thing To Do – Tom Shanahan Report

“BUBBA’S DAD, DUFFY AND COLLEGE FOOTBALL’S UNDERGROUND RAILROAD is a children’s book that explains southern Black high school coaches such as Bubba’s Smith father, Willie Raye Smith Sr., viewed Michigan State as the North Star of opportunity for their players. Black coaches and some white individuals such as Roanoke, Virginia, sportswriter Bob McLelland contacted Daugherty. McLelland recommended Charlie Thornhill to Duffy through MSU assistant coach Vince Carillot.

Michigan State is a singular story – not another Minnesota or USC and certainly not another USC.

I’ll tell this story again at Shuler Book Store at the Meridan Mall in Okemos. The book-signing event begins at 6:30 p.m. on March 28.

West Michigan alumni members have done their homework and know Duffy Daugherty was a crusader on his own. He DID NOT need help from Bear Bryant, who, AT BEST, was indifferent to integration. Bryant dragged his feet into the 1970s. That was 16 years after the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education ruling and seven years after his own campus desegregated.

MIchigan State legend Steve Garvey attended the Riverside County club event in Palm Desert. He thanked me for telling Duffy’s story as pivotal to college football integration prior to the 1970 USC-Albama game. Garvey is quoted in RAYE OF LIGHT calling Duffy a “Rennaissance Man.”

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Bryant was not a benevolent segregationist as his apologists — most prominently author Keith Dunnavant — have successfully convinced popular culture through a disinformation campaign. To defend his segregated rosters, he said on film in 1967 he couldn’t find any Black athletes academically qualified.

Understand that without the Underground Railroad talent that southern Black high school coaches steered to Daugherty, the Spartans don’t win national titles. Do Michigan State fans living vicariously through some connection to Bryant understand they’re crediting Bryant, not Daugherty, for Michigan State’s greatest teams.

That’s not only erroneous, it is sacrilegious to Sparty.

Yet, the media and college football lore continue to celebrate Bryant while considering Duffy a minor character taking a back seat the diversity car. It’s a disgrace and a sports journalism failure.

Our own school doesn’t fully grasp and celebrate Duffy’s leadership. When I spoke recently to English classes at the high school I attended, Chippewa Hills, a teacher from another class who sat in on the session as an avid MSU fan. She offered a comment to me.

“I’ve been to the Michigan State football building and walked around. I see the pictures of Bubba Smith and Jimmy Raye, but I don’t see anything that explains Duffy’s 1960s team and the role they played leading college football integration.”

She’s right. Michigan State has failed to properly tell the story to its own fanbase.

We lost Bubba Smith, George Webster, Charlie Thornhill and others long ago. The school needs to understand the clock is ticking on the players still among us who are approaching their 80s.

Michigan State 1966 All-American Jerry West and his wife Pat joined me at the Grand Rapids event. West will sign copies of my books at Shuler Book Store at 6:30 p.m. on March 28 at Shuler Book Store at the Meridian Mall in Okemos.

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I invite you to follow me on Twitter @shanny4055

Below are links to click on to purchase my books focused.

My books tell the true story of college football integration in the 1960s and address the myths and fiction that allowed a false narrative surrounding the 1970 USC-Alabama game to usurp the credit from the true pioneers. As I said when I spoke at the National Sports Media Association book festival, no two books provide an accurate portrayal more than RAYE OF LIGHT and THE RIGHT THING TO DO.

I’ll put my facts up against anybody, anytime, anywhere. Watch here.

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 the summary as a first-place story.

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Click here to purchase The Right Thing To Do

THE RIGHT THING TO DO

The True Pioneers of College Football Integration in the 1960s

Foreword by Ruffin McNeill

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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

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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.

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My next children’s book coming soon: How Duffy Put Hawaii on the Football Map

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