Penn State’s THON claims to be the largest student-run philanthropic organization in the world. It’s a 46-hour dance party that has raised millions upon millions of dollars for the families of children fighting childhood cancer over the years, and each fall the Nittany Lions’ football program designates one game to the charity.
The ‘Thon Day’ game is this Saturday versus Wisconsin, and on Tuesday the Nittany Lions announced that Devon and Leah Still will be the honorary captains.
Devon, of course, is a former Penn State defensive tackle and a member of the Lions’ 2008 Big Ten championship squad. Still was a second round pick of the Cincinnati Bengals in 2012, and it was while playing for the Bengals that Still revealed his young daughter Leah was diagnosed with Stage 4 neuroblastoma, a type of cancer that usually affects infants.
She was declared cancer free on Dec. 1, 2015.
Father and daughter became fascinations across the football world as the nation rooted for Leah to win her fight with the disease.
Leah Still is now three years cancer free, and on Saturday the pair will be honored as Penn State raises money for other families in their situation.
Still remained in the NFL for six seasons, playing with the Bengals, Houston Texans and New York Jets before retiring in December. This being his first free “Thon Day” since leaving Penn State, the Stills were natural choices to serve as honorary captains. The pair returned to campus to host a THON pep rally in February of 2016.
One of the three open jobs (thus far) at the FBS level appears to have a very familiar leader in the early stages of the search for a new head coach.
Over the weekend, not long after it was announced that David Beaty would not be returning as Kansas’ head football coach in 2019, it was reported that “there is legit interest” on the part of KU in Les Miles. Tuesday afternoon, another report emerged that “there’s a lot of momentum for Les Miles at KU… and that he’s emerged as a frontrunner.”
While the Jayhawks obviously have an interest, it takes two to tango as the old idiom goes. And, according to one member of the media, Miles could be ready to dance.
Miles and Kansas athletic director Jeff Long have a relationship that extends back years. In fact, when Long was in the same job at Arkansas, he heavily pursued Miles, still at LSU, late in 2012 to fill a job that ultimately went to Bret Bielema.
In the late eighties and on into the early nineties, both Long and Miles were at Michigan — the former in the athletic department, the latter on the Wolverines coaching staff. Long was also a graduate assistant for the U-M football team in 1987, Miles’ first year as offensive line coach at the school.
Miles was fired in September of 2016 in the midst of his 12th season as LSU’s head coach. The 64-year-old Miles (he’ll turn 65 in four days) has very publicly stated he’d like to coach again, although he’s spent the past two years as a college football analyst and part-time actor.
Prior to his time in Baton Rouge, Miles was the head coach at Oklahoma State for four seasons.
The second College Football Playoff rankings were released Tuesday night and Michigan moved up into the top four after a resounding win over No. 14 Penn State on Saturday. The Wolverines gained a seat at the table vacated by LSU, who lost 29-0 to No. 1 Alabama on Saturday.
LSU fell from No. 3 to No. 7, remaining ahead of three 1-loss Power 5 teams.
The Wolverines held off Georgia, who moved from No. 6 to No. 5 with a big win over No. 9 Kentucky, who dropped two spots to No. 11.
West Virginia moved up from No. 13 to No. 9 after a 42-41 at Texas, who dropped from No. 17 to No. 19. Ohio State remained at No. 10 after struggling with 2-7 Nebraska.
At the bottom of the poll, Auburn and Washington — a pair of top-10 teams with CFP dreams in September — joined at Nos. 24 and 25, replacing Texas A&M and Virginia.
In the ACC, Syracuse rose to No. 13 and Boston College to No. 17. BC hosts No. 2 Clemson on Saturday (8 p.m. ET, ABC), while Syracuse faces No. 3 Notre Dame at Yankee Stadium on Nov. 17.
The full rankings:
3. Notre Dame
8. Washington State
9. West Virginia
10. Ohio State
14. NC State
16. Mississippi State
17. Boston College
18. Michigan State
20. Penn State
22. Iowa State
23. Fresno State
If you’re Washington State, it’s definitely a good thing if you can go into Texas and snag a 4-star skill player, as the Cougars did in getting Drue Jackson out of Sachse, Texas. But getting such players to sign on the dotted line is just half the battle. Now that you have them, you’ve got to keep them.
A logjam on the depth chart and some likely homesickness later, and now Jackson is leaving the Palouse almost as quickly as he came.
After signing with Washington State in the 2018 class, Jackson has announced his intent to transfer. “With many long conversations and prayers with God, family and loved ones, I will be transferring to WSU,” Jackson wrote in a note posted to his Twitter account.
Washington State has eight wide receivers that have caught at least 11 passes this season. All eight are slated to return next season, and none of them are Jackson, who has not recorded a catch this season.
Still, Jackson figures to be a popular transfer target for schools in Texas and the surrounding areas.
At this point in the season, the reasoning goes, if you can avoid getting hurt on game day then you’re safe. Not so.
The injury bug can strike you at any point, and Baylor wide receiver Gavin Holmes learned that the hard way this week. According to a note posted to Holmes’s Twitter account, Holmes heard a pop in his knee while catching a ball in practice this week and later learned through an MRI that he had suffered the second torn ACL of his career.
A sophomore from Justin, Texas, Holmes caught 13 passes for 166 yards and two touchdowns in nine games as a true freshman before tearing his ACL. He worked his way back to the field only to suffer the same injury just shy of a year later.
“One of the most excruciating and sad moments of my life, knowing what I had just come back from and how hard I worked just to have it happen again,” Holmes wrote. “This is definitely not what I had in mind happening for me on the home stretch of the season, but no matter how much I question, or cry about it, or in a sense lose faith, I know that His plan is greater than anything I could imagine.”
Holmes appeared in one game without any statistics this season. If there is a silver lining to this situation, it’s that Holmes will be able to take a redshirt and return in 2019 as a sophomore.