Part 2: Matt McGloin on Rebuilding Penn State Football, the Pressures of 2012 and Bill O’Brien’s Future
Editor’s note: This is the second of a two-part interview with Matt McGloin, the former Penn State quarterback who set several passing records while leading the Nittany Lions to an 8-4 record last season. He is now a rookie with the Oakland Raiders and dressed for, but did not play in, Oakland’s 24-14 loss to Washington on Sunday. In Part 1 on Friday, McGloin talked about the NCAA sanctions, playing in the NFL and Christian Hackenberg. To read the first part, click here.
The year 2012 was not kind to Penn State football in so many ways. Sanctions. Transfers. No postseason. Amazing levels of acrimony all around.
But there were silver linings, too. Eight wins, a heroic senior class, a national coach of the year award, many strong State-ments of fan and alumni support. And even some very hard-won nationwide respect.
For quarterback Matt McGloin, it was a Dickens of a season. It was the worst of times. But, to be honest -- and McGloin always is -- it was also the best of times.
After four years of fighting his way up and all around the depth chart, he earned new coach Bill O’Brien’s confidence as well as the starting job. McGloin responded with 24 TD passes, over 3,000 yards passing, the worst-ever dive for a touchdown (in a 22-point comeback victory against Northwestern) and a leadership style that was equal parts cocky, confident and charismatic – and very successful.
Now, despite not being selected in April’s NFL Draft, he is a member of the Oakland Raiders – one of only 96 QBs in The League and just one of 14 rookies playing the most glamorous position in all of American professional sports.
In an interview last week with McGloin -- his GPS chattering in the background as he was in his car headed home from practice -- he credited much of his success to O’Brien. But conversely, while his criticism of Joe Paterno’s reign before O’Brien’s arrival will certainly rankle some people, it should be noted that when McGloin praises the caliber of Penn State teammates, Paterno and his staff must be given credit for that as well.
Those players, after all, were recruited under Paterno’s direction. To be fair, over the years, McGloin – and his family – have said he owes a lifelong debt of gratitude to the late coach.
With that, here's Part 2 of our interview with McGloin, as he talks about:
His close-knit family: “I hear from them all the time. My brothers (Paul and John) have been out to a game. My parents (Paul and Cathy) have always been there for me, not just now or with Penn State, but throughout my career. I’m a Scranton guy, that was how I was brought up, that’s how we are, those are the kind of relationships I’ve always had.”
His first job out of college: “Would I be where I am right now, if nothing happened? No, I would not. I have no problem saying it. I’m man enough to admit it. I’m not the type of guy who’d say I’d still be here (in the NFL). I’d be looking for a job right now. That’s not a bad thing. A lot of guys are (recent) college grads, looking for a job. Fortunately for me, I do have that one final year at Penn State. It changed my career. It changed my life. I couldn’t have done it without coach O’Brien. I wouldn’t be a quarterback in the NFL if it wasn’t for him and (quarterbacks) coach (Charlie) Fisher.”
Learning a pro-style offense at Penn State: “It really helped with the transition. That’s why I picked up the playbook here so quickly. It’s a lot of the same things, just the terminology is different. I had to learn some plays, but I already knew things like progressions and protection. Right now, it’s just experience and getting to play against great athletes every day. I’m improving every day and making the best of the great opportunity I have.”
Changes at Penn State: “Coach O’Brien deserves all the credit in the world. He literally changed that place around. It was outdated. A lot of people just got comfortable with their jobs. They weren’t trying to improve players. They weren’t just trying to better themselves, because there was no threat of being fired. We weren’t getting better, either. You can’t have that in any job …
“The place has changed for the better. I think it will stay that way. Coach O’Brien did what he had to do. He came in and changed the place. I had grown so close to coach O’Brien and coach Fisher in the short time I was there. You saw how hard he worked, how excited he was. You didn’t want to let him down."
The biggest challenge of the 2012 season: “The most difficult thing is that we weren’t just playing college football. We were playing for a university, to save a program, to save a community, to play for the alumni. We were literally trying to hold that place together. The only ones who really wanted to be a part of it, who truly believed that we could keep it together and still win, were in that (locker) room.
“It was a special group. It was a senior class, it was all of us. We were good players, but we were great guys to be around – hard workers, guys who loved to be something bigger than themselves. That’s one of the reasons we were able to do what we did.”
O’Brien’s future at Penn State: “I don’t know how to answer that. If he wanted to, he could stay there 20 more years. But at this point, I think it doesn’t matter whether he stays or goes. He’s done everything he can and he’s doing everything great. I think a lot of people would agree with that. I think that program is really in a good place right now.
“And I know he loves it there. His wife loves it there. His kids love it there. I hope he stays. I’d love to see him stay there for a long time. But it’s going to be tough to keep him there.”
His own life as a pro and his future: “It’s a lot of pressure every day. You have to learn how to manage your time, how to take care of your body. Obviously, though, I wouldn’t want to be spending my days doing anything else. It does feel good. In terms of competition and whether I should be playing or not, I have to keep at it. I believe my time will come – eventually. We’ll just have to wait and see.”