Photo: Tom Shanahan speaking on Raye of Light.
Michigan State alumnus and author Tom Shanahan will appear from 4 pm to 6 pm on Oct. 24 at Horizon Books in downtown Traverse City. He will sign copies of his book about Michigan State football and its leading role in the integration of college football. Unfortunately, ESPN didn't set until Oct. 12 the kickoff time of 3:30 pm for the Indiana-Michigan State game (we anticipated a noon kickoff).
Any fans that want a signed copy of the book but can't attend the event can pre-arrange to purchase a copy through Horizon Books. The 4 pm event is at Horizon Books, located at 243 E. Front Street, Traverse City. The phone number is 231-946-7290.
Shanahan, who grew up in Big Rapids, can answer questions on the roles of head coach Duffy Daugherty, pioneering quarterback Jimmy Raye and the impact of the Daugherty’s Underground Railroad teams. Michigan State’s 1965 and 1966 undefeated Big Ten champions and national champions led the way for more schools to begin recruiting black athletes.
RAYE of LIGHT
Jimmy Raye, Duffy Daugherty, the integration of college football and the 1965-66 Michigan State Spartans
By Tom Shanahan; Foreword by Tony Dungy; August Publications
Horizon Books, 243 E. Front Street, Traverse City, Mi., 49684; 231-946-7290.
The book explains how Daugherty was the first coach with an extended network to bring black players from the segregated South to East Lansing for an opportunity to play Division I football and earn an education. He recruited 44 black players form the South from 1959 to his final season in 1972 (schools such as Alabama, 1971, Georgia, LSU and Missisippi didn’t have a black player until 1972). Of those 44 players, there was a 68-percent graduation rate at a time long before the NCAA imposed academic standards and athletic programs provided extensive academic support programs.
When Michigan State played Notre Dame in the 1966 Game of the Century, Daugherty’s Spartans featured the unheard of number of 20 black players on the roster and 11 starters, including Raye as the South’s firt black quarterback to win a national title.
At the same time, Notre Dame had only one black player, Alan Page. Other Big Ten schools include only a half-dozen or fewer. Daugherty’s success led to integrated and southern schools to start recruiting black athletes. For example, USC, a school with a long history in the integration of college football, had only seven black players on its 1967 national championship. But the Trojans had 23 by the time they won their 1972 national title.
PRAISE FOR RAYE OF LIGHT
“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 the journey.”
--- Tony Dungy, Super Bowl XLI champion coach
“This book is a fascinating story about how Duffy Daugherty had a huge role in integration of the game.”
--- Ed Sherman, Chicago Tribune and Sherman Report
“Jimmy Raye likely would have never had the opportunity to launch his coaching career at Michigan State if not for the so-called “Underground Railroad” that marked the legacy of the late coach Duffy Daugherty.”
--- Jarrett Bell, USA Today
“The next couple years are going to see plenty of reminiscing about Daugherty's great 1965-66 teams, considering that this fall is the 50th anniversary of the 1965 national title and the following November will see the 50th anniversary of the ‘Game of the Century.’ ”
--- Joe Rexrode, Detroit Free Press
"Jimmy Raye broke down barriers as both a player and coach, and through his philanthropy, he continues to give back to those following in his footsteps in his hometown of Fayetteville, N.C. His contributions to both college football and the Civil Rights movement in the turbulent 1960s had been largely forgotten until Tom Shanahan helped shine a “Raye of Light” on his important story."
--- Brett Friedlander, Wilmington (NC) Star News
"There have been a lot of great college football teams but never a more important one than the 1965-66 Spartans. Their 19-1-1 dominance doesn't begin to tell the story. Raye and Shanahan do that much better."
--- Jack Ebling, "The Drive with Jack" and "Press Pass," Lansing, MI.
“The courage of Jimmy Raye and Duffy Daugherty literally changed the face of college football. Tom Shanahan's brilliant storytelling brings that courage to life.”
--- Adam Gold, Host 99.9 FM The Fan, Raleigh, NC
“What Texas Western, with its all-black starting five, was to the integration of college basketball in 1966, the Spartans, in my mind, were to the integration of college football: a great leap forward.”
--- Dan Daly, Pro Football Daly, March 18, 2015
“Raye of Light" reveals a story of social evolution, not revolution, while at the same time dispels the myths of southern black participation in college football. In Jimmy Raye's career and ascension at all levels of football, he demonstrates how achievement really works and why shared opportunities for all races are the right answer. Be prepared to learn a lot about what really happened!”
--- Jim Proebstle, author of Unintended Impact: One athlete’s journey from concussions in amateur football to CTE dementia.”
“Great book! Informative and well-written, by a great writer. It should be required reading for every Michigan State player and coach. I recommend it to any sports fan, and especially to any Big Ten football fan, or Spartans Hawaiian Pipeline fan.”
--- Thomas Kaulukukui Jr., Michigan State alumnus, Managing Trustee of the Queen Lili’uokalani Fund.