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Jimmy Raye Michigan State Quarterback 1967

Michigan State’s Duffy Daugherty didn’t have a problem at all with recruiting black players out of the Old South when the schools from the South refused to play them. In the segregated South, if a black kid wanted to play some football he would have to attend one of the historically black colleges, or not play at all. Daugherty set up his Underground Railroad and recruited such stars as Bubba Smith from Texas, George Webster from South Carolina and Gene Washington also from Texas. Schools down there wouldn’t even talk to them about playing.

Jimmy Raye was a star Quarterback from Fayetteville, North Carolina. Daugherty brought Raye up to North Carolina to be his Quarterback.

Playing a black Quarterback was actually nothing new in the Big 10 as the Minnesota Gophers won a national title in 1960 with Sandy Stephens. But, Stephens was from Pennsylvania and not from the

segregated Deep South.

Jimmy Raye signed with the Michigan State Spartans in 1964 and obviously the freshmen were not eligible until 1972.

Raye was a backup to senior Steve Juday on a really good Spartan team in 1965. That team finished the regular season with a 10-0 record with a big win over future Rose Bowl opponent, UCLA, in game one. They also beat Penn State, 23-0, in game two and that was the last Penn State team before Joe Paterno took over as head coach in 1966.

Taking over as the starter in 1966, Jimmy Raye’s Spartans were ranked #2 when the season started behind Alabama.

Strangely, with the Crimson Tide not even playing a game, the Spartans leap frogged them to #1 as Bear Bryant’s guys fell to #3. Polls are strange some times.

With Alabama falling in the Polls, the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame were climbing with some impressive wins.

In October, the Spartans with it’s lineup of future 1st round draft picks Running Back Clinton Jones, Wide Receiver Gene Washington and particularly Defensive Lineman Bubba Smith and Linebacker George Webster had little problem with in state rival Michigan.

On October 15th, the Spartans struggled with a weak Ohio State team just barely winning, 11-8. Notre Dame spanked North Carolina and moved ahead of the Spartans to the number 1 spot.

Sitting at number 2, the Spartans had a major test with the 9th ranked Boilermakers of Purdue visiting East Lansing. Michigan State passed with flying colors by beating Purdue and future Pro Football Hall of Fame member Bob Griese, 41-20.

Notre Dame still held the lead in the Polls, but Michigan State easily won their last 3 games setting up the Game of the Century in 1966.

It was number 1 ranked Notre Dame taking on the 2nd ranked Spartans.

The game turned out to be a major dud with Notre Dame running out the clock to end the game. Neither team was going to a bowl even though Michigan State easily won the Big 10 Conference. The Big 10 had some strange rules back in those years. One was only the winner of the Big 10 could go to a bowl game and that was the Rose Bowl. Another was, the same school could not go to the Rose Bowl 2 years in a row. Michigan State had gone to the Rose Bowl after the 1965 season and would have to stay home after 1966 in spite of their ranking.

The teams that played to a 10-10 tie and were each considered national champions both stayed home for bowl season. Can you imagine how meaningless the January 1st bowl season was after the 1966 season. The Rose Bowl didn’t even have the Big 10’s best team. The Big 10 had that crazy rule in place for a few more years. It did work out fine this season for them with Purdue upsetting USC.

Notre Dame had banned bowls for nearly 50 years and they broke that in 1969 when they figured out how much money was involved and they played Texas in the Cotton Bowl.

Quarterback Jimmy Raye ended up with 1,110 yards passing for 10 Touchdowns. He was also the team’s second leading rusher with 486 yards and 5 Touchdowns. Those numbers pale compared to today’s players, but different times and a different game back then.

The 1967 season was a completely different story for the Spartans as they lost so much talent to the NFL Draft. They did return experienced Quarterback Jimmy Raye and Fullback Bob Apisa Samoan

But, although they returned, both struggled with injuries all season. Gone were stalwarts such as George Webster, Bubba Smith, Clinton Jones, Gene Washington and others.

The Spartans were crushed in their opening game by the Houston Cougars and their Houston Veer

offense, 7-37. Before they even knew what was going on, they had lost to the future national champions, the USC Trojans, 17-21. They beat Wisconsin and Michigan, badly, before losing 5 in a row.

The NFL Draft was 16 rounds back in those days, and Jimmy Raye was picked in the final round by the Los Angeles Rams. But, of course, the NFL was really having nothing to do with black Quarterbacks back in the 1960s and they had Roman Gabriel throwing the football. They drafted Raye as a Cornerback and they traded him to the Philadelphia Eagles pretty quickly.

After two years of trying to play, Jimmy Raye went back to his alma mater to begin a career as a coach. His old coach Duffy Daugherty eagerly hired him. Raye had a long and distinguished career as an NFL assistant coach which lasted through the 2013 season.

Back in the 1960’s, there were a lot of college football Polls and Michigan State was crowned national champs by at least one of them with Notre Dame winning in the Associated Press Poll.

Jimmy Raye is credited as being the first black Quarterback from the South to win a national title.