Books by Tom Shanahan

Raye of Light book signing in Cary, NC with Jimmy Raye and Tom Shanahan

Bubba’s Dad, Duffy and College Football’s Underground Railroad

Michigan State’s Underground Railroad led college football integration in the 1960s. The chief engineer was Willie Ray Smith Sr., a Texas high school coach and father of Bubba Smith, Michigan State’s College Football Hall of Fame player. Willie Ray Smith drives the Underground Railroad, winding through the segregated South as he picks up players for Michigan State coach Duffy Daugherty.
Michigan State’s Underground Railroad led college football integration in the 1960s. The chief engineer was Willie Ray Smith Sr., a Texas high school coach and father of Bubba Smith, Michigan State’s College Football Hall of Fame player. Willie Ray Smith drives the Underground Railroad, winding through the segregated South as he picks up players for Michigan State coach Duffy Daugherty.

The Right Thing to Do: The True Pioneers of College Football Integration in the 1960s

Jerry LeVias, Warren McVea and Leon Burton are major figures in college football history, but their accomplishments aren’t widely celebrated these days, even at their alma maters. The story of college football integration in the 1960s was ignored by sportswriters of the era, and schools saw little upside to trumpet their racial accomplishments.

The stories of these groundbreaking college football pioneers and the coaches who fought for integration—led by Michigan State’s Duffy Daugherty and his coaching tree, featuring the likes of Dan Devine, Chuck Fairbanks and Bill Yeoman—are compiled for the first time in The Right Thing to Do: The True Pioneers of College Football Integration. From award-winning journalist Tom Shanahan, The Right Thing to Do addresses the official racial quota system in the 1960s college football world and the “Conspiracy of Silence” in the sports press, avoiding any mention of racial politics. It also addresses carefully crafted but totally false myths from the era, including the role of Alabama’s Paul “Bear” Bryant in college football integration—a role where Bryant was a laggard, not a leader.

The Right Thing to Do: The True Pioneers of College Football Integration focuses on three big stories:

  • His peers considered Michigan State’s Duffy Daugherty a pioneer, but the true extent of his impact on college football integration is still being discovered. Michigan State players represented an overwhelming 41 percent share of Black players throughout the nation to win a 1960s national championship ring, according to the titles voted upon by AP (writers) and United Press International. Daugherty’s coaching tree heavily impacted the college football game, going back to Dan Devine taking the reins at Arizona State, and the mentoring of Duffy’s Disciples, like Jimmy Raye and Sherman Lewis, reverberates today with subsequent generations of college and professional coaches.
  • Student activism was key to progress in the Civil Rights Era, and that trend was reflected on the college football front—even when coaches did not respond well to activism. Sportswriters were unwilling to report on such efforts, such as when Colorado’s 1961 Big Eight champions declined an invitation to the Orange Bowl, wanting assurances that every player—Black and white alike—would be staying at the same hotels and eating at the same restaurants, practices not taking place in the segregated South. Student uprisings also put a halt to Bear Bryant’s backdoor effort to place his segregated Alabama Crimson Tide in the 1962 Rose Bowl, an effort called out by UCLA players and the Los Angeles Times’ Jim Murray—the only sportswriter in the country to cover the ill-fated effort.
  • The groundbreaking players who braved the prejudice and abuse of the era: SMU’s Jerry LeVias, the first Black scholarship player in the Southwest Conference; Houston’s Warren McVea, the first Black player to sign with a major Texas college; Wake Forest’s Bob Grant and Kenneth “Butch” Henry, the first Black scholarship players in a major Southern conference; and Gary Steele, West Point’s first Black football letterman.

Foreword by Ruffin McNeill

RAYE OF LIGHT: Jimmy Raye, Duffy Daugherty, the Integration of College Football, and the 1965-66 Michigan State Spartans

When Jimmy Raye arrived at Michigan State University in 1964, he did more than just enrolled in a university hundreds of miles from his native Fayetteville, N.C.: he was part of a groundbreaking movement that changed college football forever.

His story, as well as his Spartan teammates and coach Duffy Daugherty, is told in Raye of Light: the first book to fully explain Duffy Daugherty’s Underground Railroad and its impact on college football. History has not accorded Daugherty, Raye, and the Spartans proper credit for their roles in the integration of college football. Too many view Daugherty as recruiting a couple of All-American players from the South, winning a bunch of games with his 1965-66 teams and then having it all come to an end.

But that ignores the history made by Raye and the Spartans. In his junior season in 1966, Raye was Michigan State’s first black starting quarterback and the first black quarterback from the South to win a national title. The Michigan State team with a progressive head coach, a pioneer black quarterback, and the first fully integrated roster in college football is the subject of this engrossing new book by award-winning author Tom Shanahan.

In Raye of Light, Shanahan tells the story of how Daugherty integrated his Spartan teams in a time when leading college programs like the University of Alabama were still segregated, when it was unusual to see black athletes at skill positions like quarterback, and when choices for outstanding Southern black athletes were either traditionally black colleges or northern college opening their doors to nationwide recruits.

It’s been 50 years since Raye and his teammates made history, and issues of race still reverberate in college and pro football, both on the playing field and on coaching staffs. One need only to reflect on the ugly comments on Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling to realize we are not living in a post-racial society, making the inspiring tale of Raye, Bubba Smith, Duffy Daughtery and the rest of the 1965-1966 Michigan State Spartans even more relevant.

More articles about Jimmy Raye – From the Detroit Free Press.

Book report from Ed Sherman

Bubba Smith is the most famous of Duffy Daugherty’s Underground Railroad passengers,” but Jimmy Raye was the most socially significant. He was a pioneer black college quarterback, a pioneer black college assistant coach, a pioneer black NFL assistant coach and one of the first black coordinators in the NFL in 1983 as the Los Angeles Rams’ offensive coordinator.
My journey through the National Football League culminated with coaching the Indianapolis Colts to a victory over the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XLI. The Bears were coached by Lovie Smith, another African-American coach, who had started his NFL career coaching for me in Tampa. I was proud to have helped Lovie, but as I walked up to the victory podium after the game, I couldn’t help but think of how many people had helped me along the way. One of those people I wanted to personally thank for opening doors was Jimmy Raye. This book tells how some of those doors got pushed open. I’m sure you will enjoy reading about the journey!

Hall of Fame Coach TONY DUNGY