Matt McGloin is Penn State.
On Saturday, the fiery quarterback led the once-venerated Nittany Lion football squad onto the field against the Ohio Bobcats in the first game of the Bill O'Brien era.
If ever Penn State needed a gritty young scrapper to lead it out of darkness, now is the time.
McGloin, who was not offered a scholarship to come play for Penn State as a freshman, decided to follow his boyhood dream and attempt to make Joe Paterno's squad the hard way - as a walk-on.
He succeeded in making the team as a backup quarterback in 2009. McGloin's first appearance in the national spotlight came in a game against Northwestern in November 2010. Coming off the bench to replace the struggling starting quarterback for the Lions, McGloin rallied the squad back from a 21-point deficit to defeat Northwestern at Beaver Stadium.
The win gave Paterno his 400th victory as a head coach and a ride off the field on the shoulders of his players.
However, McGloin struggled under the glare of the intense media spotlight in State College. Often referred to as an undisciplined gunslinger of the Brett Favre-variety, McGloin set a team record in the 2011 Outback Bowl by throwing five interceptions against the Florida Gators in a 37-24 loss.
Despite never decisively securing the starting quarterback position for himself, McGloin demonstrated his commitment to the program and the university. In 2010 after helping Penn State defeat Minnesota, his future as a starter still uncertain, he told the media, "I'll never leave here, [even] if this is the only time I will ever play, I helped Penn State get a win. That's what it's all about."
Then came the events of November 2011 and the appropriately wake-like atmosphere of the team's game against Nebraska following the revelation of former Lions coach Jerry Sandusky's child sex abuse charges. Then Paterno's death. Then the Freeh report and its conclusions that the senior leadership at Penn State had been negligent in stopping the abuse.
Finally, the unprecedented NCAA sanctions placed on the football program because of the report. McGloin watched as the institution he loved and had been so proud to be a small part of crumbled around him.
He watched as some of his most talented teammates decided their futures were better off at other universities. Yet he stayed. He stayed despite the fact that the wins he had helped garner for Penn State over the preceding three years were erased from the record books.
He again professed his loyalty, not to an individual, but to the university where he had become a man.
So now, McGloin and his teammates embark on this season, the first in what is hoped to be a more grounded era in Penn State football - an era that will move past the deviance of one and the moral frailty of others.
Despite the stats and win-loss totals of the upcoming season, Matt McGloin and his loyal teammates can etch a proud chapter into the annals of Penn State sports by demonstrating character and poise in the face of adversity, traits that have long been the hallmarks of Nittany Lions in the past.
The fans will still come and tailgate. The Blue Band will still play. The Lion mascot will do push-ups. And the university will prove that the spirit of Penn State is and will forever be bigger than any one man.
Apply lost scholarships now
The recent sanctions imposed on the Penn State football program caused a mass exodus among current players, directly resulting in a reduction of available scholarships for the upcoming 2012 season.
An article in the Mirror suggests that next season could also be well short of the normal 85 scholarship limit.
As a PSU alumnus, I am not opposed to taking our lumps.
However, it should stand to reason that the scholarships lost since the announcement of the sanctions should be applied to the four-year 65-scholarship limit sanction. I strongly believe that any scholarships lost between now and next year should be added to the 65 and spread over the four-year limit.
Most people believe that the sanctions against Penn State were a bit harsh and misdirected. Applying these lost scholarships to future rosters only seems fair.
Michael V. Sinisi
Singing the wrong tune
Oh my God!
I can't believe there will be no more of my favorite Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline" played during the Penn State football games because of the lyrics, "touching me, touching you."
What will the next repercussion be? Guess they'll have to rename touchdown.