The recent death of former University of Southern California and New England Patriots running back Sam "Bam" Cunningham has brought to light the importance of USC's victory over Alabama in 1970.  It showed Alabama head coach Paul "Bear" Bryant (and other coaches in the South) that he had to recruit black players to become competitive again nationally.

And there's no doubt that USC's win at Legion Field in Birmingham that September night 51 years ago had a profound effect in pushing for integration in the South.

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But as this article from trojanswire states, Cunningham's legendary game against the Crimson Tide overshadows the true heroes pushing for integration even before 1970.  That would be Hugh "Duffy" Daugherty's Michigan State Spartans.

Most people around Mid-Michigan who even follow Spartan sports on a casual basis knows that "Duffy" was the leader in recruiting minority players back in the 1950's and 1960's.  Some of those players, like Jimmy Raye, Charles "Bubba" Smith, George Webster, and Bob Apisa helped MSU win a split national title in 1965 and a number 2 overall national ranking in 1966 behind Notre Dame.

It's really something that media who cover a prominent school like USC want to give proper credit for something like integration to another school.  But it is warranted.  Michigan State was one of the first universities to recruit black players out of the South to come play in East Lansing when no Southern schools would recruit them (this excludes HBCU's like Grambling, where the late Eddie Robinson built a powerhouse).

You gotta respect a top level football school giving credit to another school where credit is due.  Props to USC.  And read the highlighted article above from trojanswire.  It's very enlightening and though-provoking.

 

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