“Thanksgiving dinners take eighteen hours to prepare. They are consumed in twelve minutes. Half-times take twelve minutes. This is not coincidence.” -Erma Bombeck
Fortunately, the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision season isn't just 12 minutes (or even 18 hours). Technically, it runs for August through the national championship game in January. But, we at Prairie State Pigskin live in the FCS world virtually year round.
With the third full season of our blog dedicated to the Illinois FCS programs just about in the books, Barry and I put together this list of 16 things we're thankful for in the Land of Lincoln.
In no particular order, it's time to grab a turkey leg and fill up your plate as we kick things off . . .
- The "here, then gone, then here again" 'stache of Illinois State head coach Brock Spack
- The leadership and examples set by Western Illinois quarterback Sean McGuire
- Aaron Gooch, the Homewood-Flosmoor graduate who walked on as an undersized receiver and wound up Top 10 all-time in catches at Eastern Illinois
- The all-purpose impact of D.J. Davis on the Southern Illinois offense
- Comeback stories like Romeo McKnight, who was derailed by injuries at Iowa and showed his skills at ISU
- The emergence of WIU linebacker Pete Swenson, the national leader in tackles-for-loss
- EIU quarterback Jonathan Brantley's Ohio Valley Conference record 230 passes without an interception
- The big-play ability of SIU receiver Raphael Leonard
- The arrival of redshirt freshman Andrew Edgar out of St. Patrick High School, who may well be the next great ISU star receiver
- The award won by WIU safety Justin Fitzpatrick for his impressive video reporting
- The Air Raid putting excitement, points and yards back into the EIU offense
- Jerry Kill bringing his knowledge and passion back to SIU athletics
- The Rockford connection of Zackary Mathews on defense and James Robinson on offense at ISU (also the hometown of Brock Spack)
- The power and athleticism of WIU defensive lineman Khalen Saunders (who also caught a TD pass this season)
- The helmet sticker to honor Bob Spoo, who coached at EIU for 25 years and passed away in October
- SIU being recognized as No. 2 in the nation for its charity hours