Joe Paterno Has Tough Decision in '11 If Matt McGloin Plays Well in Outback Bowl

Mike MuellerContributor IIDecember 27, 2010

Matt McGloin is playing for more than just a win in the 2011 Outback Bowl
Matt McGloin is playing for more than just a win in the 2011 Outback BowlHunter Martin/Getty Images

It doesn’t matter what Penn State quarterback Matt McGloin has done up to this point.

If he struggles against Florida in the Outback Bowl on New Year’s Day, his starting job is definitely in jeopardy next season.

McGloin has everything to lose and very little to gain down in Tampa. Most people feel the starting quarterback job will be an open competition anyway come spring, regardless of his performance against the Gators.

It puts McGloin in another awkward spot of proving himself yet again.

Head coach Joe Paterno has not made a commitment to McGloin past this season and likely won’t with true freshman Rob Bolden and redshirt freshman Paul Jones both in the mix.

It’s an interesting decision for Paterno, who just recently celebrated his 84th birthday. Does he go with results or potential?

There is no question that Jones (6'3", 246) and Bolden (6'4", 208) are physically more gifted than McGloin, who is generously listed at 6'1", 209. Both guys were heavily recruited out of high school and supposedly have all the “tools” necessary to be potential stars.

McGloin has never been the sexy pick, and after being overlooked by virtually every major Division I program out of high school, he settled on walking on at Penn State.

He threw just two passes coming into this season, both incomplete, but defied the odds and became the first former walk-on to start for Paterno and the first Penn State quarterback to throw for at least 300 yards in consecutive games.

McGloin’s leadership and moxie have been the biggest difference for Penn State this season. The Nittany Lions went 4-2 with him under center and strung together an actual offense down the stretch.

McGloin completed 58 percent of his passes for 1,337 yards, 13 touchdowns and four interceptions. Granted, wins over Minnesota, Northwestern, Michigan and Indiana aren’t the most impressive, but the offense averaged 31 points during that run, which was 13 points higher than the Nits’ average in their first six games.

McGloin has gotten the job done up to this point, but is Paterno willing to bet the next two years on that success?

If he does, it will most likely cost him at least one of his quarterback prospects in Rob Bolden and Paul Jones, if not both.

McGloin already said that he will accept his role next season, whatever it is. That may be true, but it will make Paterno’s job a lot easier next season if McGloin performs poorly on New Year’s Day.

Then again, McGloin has proved everyone wrong before.