Thanksgiving is the day men start getting in shape … to play Santa Claus.
- Melanie White
Hey, Santa Claus was probably a pretty good lineman in his day. And Burl Ives, former Eastern Illinois lineman (see below), did pretty well after leaving Charleston for that matter.
With the second full season of our blog dedicated to Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) in Illinois just about in the books, Barry and I put together this list of 16 things we're thankful for in the Land of Lincoln, home of Prairie State Pigskin.
In no particular order, it's time to grab a turkey leg and fill up your plate as we kick things off . . .
- The noise of the crowd at Homecoming . . . and the silence when Western Illinois scored to beat Northern Iowa at the UNI-Dome in the final seconds
- Breakout players the likes of Jaelon Acklin (WIU), Alexander Hollins (EIU), Tyree Horton (ISU) and Anthony Knighton (SIU)
- The seemingly endless career of former ISU quarterback Kevin Glenn in the Canadian Football League
- Being able to catch the Leathernecks, Panthers, Redbirds and Salukis on ESPN3 or a radio stream when we couldn't get to campus
- The Big 10's reversal of its FCS scheduling policy
- All the behind-the-scenes support staff that make FCS game day in Illinois possible
- The homegrown talent of Macomb's very own Brett Taylor
- The trading of Jimmy Garoppolo (no Patriots' fans here)
- Kelly Burke's "First and Goal" podcast
- Getting the chance to talk to Kim Dameron, Charlie Fisher, Nick Hill and Brock Spack about topics other than football
- Seeing former players back on campus and being embraced by the programs they helped build
- An Illinois FCS team in the playoffs. Western Illinois plays its first-round game Saturday at Weber State.
- For Todd Hefferman, Scott Holland, Randy Reinhardt and Justin Rust. Four hard-working beat writers we admire (and darn nice people to boot!)
- For all the insightful, diverse responses we get from players for our weekly Moving the Chains feature
- The hospitality at all four schools we visited even if it wasn't game day
- And for the second straight year, we're thankful for all of our readers and their comments, likes, tweets and retweets!