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July 12, 2011By Nate Bauer
Continuing a seemingly annual tradition, Penn State fans are going to have another opportunity to choose sides this summer.
Rob Bolden or Matt McGloin?
Many fans, influenced by Bolden's attempt to transfer or McGloin's brashness, which has been perceived as arrogance by some, have already formed an opinion.
Here's a suggestion, however:
See, the competitors are not the same people they were last season, or even four months ago when they battled it out in spring practice.
After I spoke with each competitor individually Friday afternoon at Penn State's Lift for Life event, a few issues that often get lost in the conversation about these two started coming into focus.
Both quarterbacks have matured. Both are still just kids. (Contradiction noted. More on this later). Both have received public endorsements from their teammates. Both appear ready for the competition. Both have received unfair condemnation from fans.
And most important, Bolden and McGloin are incredibly - delightfully - different from each other.
Going into the event, Bolden was a scratch with no explanation given for his absence, while McGloin was a team leader, asserting himself before the competition had even begun.
Before he worked out, McGloin took questions from a throng of reporters. Then he took questions from another reporter, and another, and another, and another, and so on. Then he worked out. Afterward, he took more questions from more reporters.
The number of questions he took, let alone the Lift for Life workout, should have been enough to exhaust him. But it was very likely worth his while. Truthfully, there's no better way to ingratiate yourself to reporters than by being available to take questions and answering them honestly.
McGloin offers both, seemingly at all times.
His answers were familiar. He said he expected to be the starter and that he is the man for the job. He was straightforward and wore a smile throughout.
Meanwhile, Bolden was nowhere to be found and wasn't expected to be available for interviews.
Yet, later in the afternoon, a fellow BWI reporter informed me, discretely, that Bolden was in the building.
"Where?" I asked.
"Over there," he said, pointing to a lanky kid leaning wearing a baseball cap and a backpack, standing against a railing completely alone. For a guy who could end up being the starting quarterback on a potential Big Ten title contender, Bolden was pretty inconspicuous.
He wasn't there for us.
Bolden was cheering on his teammates, seemingly unaware that the same throng of reporters who had interviewed McGloin hours earlier were clamoring for the same opportunity to chat with him. News conferences, hoopla... they're just not his style.
Believing we had stumbled upon a huge scoop, I made my way over to Bolden, chatted casually for a few minutes, then asked if he'd be willing to talk on camera. "Of course," he said.
Only later Friday night did we find out that other media members had similarly stumbled upon Bolden and had conducted similarly candid interviews. Our "exclusive" was far from it.
The conversation was candid and honest and revealed that Bolden has many of the same qualities as McGloin yet asserts them in a completely different way.
McGloin is a cheerleader - in the best possible way. Lacking leaders, the Nittany Lions needed the spark he provided last season.
Bolden, meanwhile, is an unassuming and quirky kid. He hasn't yet shown an ability to lead this team, but his interview indicated he's well on his way to establishing those qualities.
Both players are intent on winning the starting job and are fiercely competitive. Yet they both have a sense of humor about it.
They simply exhibit it in different ways.
The parties who decide which one will start in September would be well served to begin from scratch when preseason practice begins in August.
You should, too.