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McGloin Losing Battles On and Off the Field

Matt McGloin may have been Penn State’s most valuable player during the 2010 football season. But between the end of last season and now, he may have also become the most disliked amongst the fanbase.

McGloin’s playing career as a Nittany Lion can essentially be split into two distinct chapters.

Chapter 1: October 23, 2010 – November 6, 2010

Rob Bolden was having, statistically, the best game of his young Nittany Lion career before suffering a concussion against Minnesota last season. A fiery redhead stepped in at quarterback late in the second quarter. In only his second pass, he hit Derek Moye for a forty two yard touchdown. McGloin would throw another touchdown pass to Moye later in the day and lead the Nittany Lions to a 33-21 road win.

The following Saturday, with Bolden in uniform but still on the mend, McGloin got the start against Michigan leading the Nittany Lions to an electric 41-31 win under the lights at Beaver Stadium.

Bolden got the start at home against Northwestern but was pulled for McGloin after an early fumble with the Nittany Lions trailing 7-0. McGloin tossed four touchdown passes as the offense scored thirty five unanswered points to win 35-21 and give Joe Paterno his 400th career win.

Michigan and Northwestern’s defenses were both subpar, allowing 35 and 29 points per game respectively in 2010. But there is no taking away those games from McGloin.  He played well, and if had not been ready to step in, Penn State very well could have suffered its first losing season since 2004 and failed to qualify for a Bowl Game.

The magic would continue for another thirty minutes. McGloin’s first half stats against 8th ranked Ohio State were 13-18 for 141 yards and 2 TDs. He became the first Penn State quarterback to throw a touchdown pass at “The Horseshoe” since the Nittany Lions joined the Big Ten in 1993.  As the teams took the field for the second half with Penn State leading 14-3, everything was about to come crashing down.

Chapter 2:  The Second Half at Ohio State-Present

By 9:16 of the fourth quarter, McGloin had two interceptions returned for touchdowns.  He completed as many passes in the second half to his receivers as he did to Ohio State defensive backs.  Both of those completions came within the first three minutes of the third quarter.  Penn State went on to surrender thirty five unanswered points and lost 38-14.

In his next two games, McGloin put up big passing numbers but played unevenly in a win against Indiana and a home loss to Michigan State to end the regular season.

Things on the field began to hit rock bottom in the Outback Bowl against Florida as McGloin threw five interceptions including one that was returned for a Florida touchdown with 1:11 remaining, killing the chances of a come from behind win.  Anyone with two functioning eyes could tell you that it easily could have been ten interceptions.

During the first chapter of the McGloin story, we saw him waving his arms firing up the student section against Michigan, calling out Kirk Herbstreit, and taunting Ohio State players. He played with confidence that bordered on cockiness.

In the sports world, there is a debate on what comes first: confidence or success.  There is no clear answer to this question, but when someone has success, they can get a pass for this type of behavior and even thrive on it. The problem here is that McGloin has continued to act like this off the field when things have gone south, but expecting not to be scrutnized.

While McGloin is not responsible for this himself, this Outback Bowl recap, written by Onward State staffer John Tecce, could have foreshadowed what was to come in terms of his image:

Sitting across the row from us was Matt McGloin’s family, who could be easily identified by their Penn State apparel displaying #11 and the McGloin name. I am not sure how it began, but late in the 4th quarter they got in an argument with the two guys sitting next to us, who appeared to also be Penn State students. These two were among the many in our section in loudly expressing their frustration with McGloin’s poor decision-making on the field.

The argument between them and the McGloin family went on for about a minute or two. When my girlfriend Carolyn interjected with her own opinion, as many others around us were doing, a guy who appeared to be one of McGloin’s brothers responded by telling her that she could not criticize Matt because she is a woman.

Back home in Scranton after the Outback Bowl, McGloin was asked about Bolden potentially leaving Penn State. In a disorganized time for the program, with additional rumors also swirling about Paterno’s health and other coaching changes, McGloin responded by saying “If he does go, it’s tough. He was a good backup to have.” Bolden had started eight games and finished six on the sesaon. McGloin had started five games and finished seven.  Even if this was not an intended shot at Bolden, it did not go over well.

Fast forward a little over a month into February where McGloin gets into an argument with a Penn State blogger.

In addition to that confrontation, McGloin also tweets at a fake account @fckitgoingdeep demanding it be deleted. Many fake accounts exist on Twitter, including some of Penn State’s own @PatChambers_PSU and @IfJoePaTweeted. They have come to be accepted for the irony they provide. Although the season was many months away, this led to many people to jump on the Bolden bandwagon in what was sure to be an interesting summer and beginning to the season.

After the opening Indiana State game, both quarterbacks offered their thoughts on the continuing competition.

Bolden: “I’m just out there playing, doing what I’ve been doing all along.”

McGloin: “Obviously, when I’m in there, I think there’s more of a comfort feeling [in the huddle]. Guys, I guess, are behind me. Call it whatever you want to call it. We just have a better vibe and we move the ball a lot better.”

At some point, the line needs to be drawn between confidence and arrogance.

Another Twitter response after Saturday’s loss to Alabama did not do McGloin any favors.  Someone said, “I had as many yards as you did today @MacQb11 thanks for ruining my life.”  McGloin responded by saying he was “glad I have such an impact on your life” before quickly deleting it. In no way do I support harassing celebrities or athletes on Twitter. It’s asinine and there’s no place for it, but the response was just as immature. Why give someone the satisfaction of knowing they got in your head by responding?  A few other high profile players seemed to handle themselves a lot better after the loss.

At times, McGloin has portrayed himself well off the field including participating in Lift For Life this summer and visiting students at Paternoville last week; however, these public relations fails are making people forget about the positives.

The last eleven months have been a roller coaster ride for McGloin with many highs and lows. Dealing with the lows are part of choosing to play quarterback at a football crazed university where many fans live and die with their team, especially one that preaches “Success With Honor,” and losing, when it occurs, with sportsmanship.  The spotlight shines bright in Happy Valley during a winning streak but shines even brighter after a loss.

There is no denying that Matt McGloin did a lot for the football program during a three week span in 2010 and will always be remembered as the quarterback who delivered Coach Paterno his 400th win. No one knows what is in store for the next ten games regarding how much McGloin will play and if his play can improve, but since the start of that third quarter in Columbus, he is 71 of 145 passing with 5 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. Penn State has a 2-4 record in those games. Until his play on the field does get better and reach the levels of Chapter 1, it can only help him to improve his attitude and appearances off the field.

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About the Author

Drew Balis

Drew is a senior marketing major. This fall, he will be covering Penn State Football for Onward State. He is a huge Philadelphia sports fan and loves THON and Domonic Brown.

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