How MSU changed
college football forever
February marks Black History Month, an annual celebration of African-American achievements that pays tribute to the pioneers, game changers and groundbreakers who have left their mark on the world.
The 1966 Michigan State University football team, which won a national championship, broke ground by playing a major role in the integration of college football.
Duffy Daugherty, MSU head football coach from 1954 to 1972, traveled the South recruiting student-athletes — including many who went on to become All-Americans — who were denied an opportunity to play in their home states. By 1966, the Spartan roster included 20 black players — an unprecedented number at a time when many major college football programs remained segregated.
When No. 1-ranked Notre Dame faced No. 2-Michigan State in 1966 at Spartan Stadium, the game was watched by 33 million viewers — college football’s largest TV audience at the time. Ending in a 10-10 tie, it became known as the “Game of the Century.” MSU was awarded its second consecutive national championship, and Jimmy Raye became the first black quarterback from the South to win a national championship.
In the seasons that followed that historic game, college teams across the nation began to fully integrate. MSU and those 20 brave Spartan student-athletes changed college football forever.
Pro Football Hall of Famer Tony Dungy narrates this game-changing story.
The first African-American head coach to win the Super Bowl, today Dungy is an analyst on NBC’s “Football Night in America” and one of the most influential figures in football.
Dungy’s fascination with football began in Jackson, Michigan, where he grew up in the 1960s. A fan of the Michigan State University Spartans, his family lived on campus while his father, a college professor, attended MSU to work on his doctorate.
During this time, Dungy attended many MSU athletic events and idolized quarterback Jimmy Raye. Seeing black players such as Raye in leadership roles on the field inspired Dungy and an entire generation of athletes.