Relaxed McGloin ready to lead
Matt McGloin answered questions in a more relaxed manner than he did last year at Penn State's Annual Media Day before the start of the season.
Joe Paterno never named a starter last season, letting both McGloin and Rob Bolden take first-team snaps in practice every week. Even though McGloin had better statistics and higher scoring rates, Bolden started the first six games of the season.
Not this year.
New head coach Bill O'Brien ended any controversy by saying that McGloin would be the No. 1 quarterback in June, with redshirt sophomore Rob Jones being has backup. With the sanctions handed down, Bolden took advantage of transferring to LSU and is now trying to latch on in Bayou Country.
McGloin, sporting a beard and mustache, something that you wouldn't have seen under the Paterno regime, answered questions about the sanctions, the transfers, the new coaching staff and everything right down to the playbook.
He didn't come right out and call anyone out by name, but you could tell not only McGloin, but some of his teammates are frustrated by the 10 players who have left since NCAA sanctions were handed down on July 23.
"Right then and there you had to make a decision," he said while talking to reporters on the floor of Beaver Stadium on Thursday. "You were either going to stick it out or you were going to bail and be selfish."
That last quote expresses the feeling about how most of those, especially the seniors, feel about the so-called defectors.
"For the most part, a lot of us stayed here," McGloin said. "Stayed true to the program. Thought about the team. Thought about what the coaches have done. Thought about the fans.
"And it couldn't be better right now, the position that we're in. We have a chance to do something great for this university and bring this university back to the top."
O'Brien and his staff are working hard at keeping the unity on this team at 100 percent.
"I try not to live in the world of uncertainty," O'Brien said. "I take it day by day, situation by situation. I felt very good about our staff and our relationship with our players. I definitely felt like there was a trust there. I knew that there would be some guys that left, and I respect those decisions. Those guys made those decisions individually and with their families. I'm confident the football team we have here today is going to stick together."
O'Brien is also very happy with the progress McGloin has made since the spring.
"I feel good about Matt," he said. "He's definitely made a ton of progress. This is a guy that the more you're around him, the more you enjoy coaching him. I would say the same about all four of these guys, Paul Jones, Shane McGregor, and Steven Bench. These are good guys to be around.
"But Matt is competitive; he's smart; he's understanding defenses better; he's understanding what formation, what play we're in, and what the best plays are to run versus the defense that he sees. So I've seen a lot of progress with Matt, and it's been a lot of fun watching it."
McGloin isn't comparing himself to Tom Brady yet, but likes the control the quarterback has of the offense that has been put in.
"Most importantly now is we're having a ton of fun playing the game of football," McGloin said. "Going to filmwork, just hanging out in the dorms, and practice has been better than ever. We're so much closer as a team, so much closer with the coaching staff and more importantly I feel we're a lot closer with the fans and that's what it's all about. We're anxious for September 1 to roll around."
McGloin didn't hide that the feeling of this team is "It's us against the world".
"You can definitely say we're playing with a chip on our shoulder, but at the same time it's football and we enjoying playing this game better than ever," he said. "Whether we're playing before 100 fans of 100,000, it's a great opportunity for us.
"With everything that is going on, it just adds to it. September 1 will be very emotional. We have a chance to make history and I'm proud to be here. Happy Valley and Beaver Stadium are the greatest places to be in America."
The names on the jerseys for the first time in Penn State history also isn't anything about being selfish, it's a way for O'Brien to let the world know what people stuck there and what people stayed true to the program and stayed loyal.
Add that the ribbons to support programs for Child Abuse, it's the first step to try and bury the ugly mess that has surrounded the program since last fall.
This team deserves that chance. They had nothing to do with what happened. It'll be interested to see what kind of reaction it causes.