It’s been quite a week for the Penn State football program.
Fresh off rumors about coach Joe Paterno being ill and perhaps mulling retirement, there are several published reports about the future of former starting quarterback Rob Bolden. Bolden’s father spoke with several media outlets about the future of his son.
In today’s edition of Morelli OnLion, we’ll take a closer look at the Bolden situation. We’ll also look back at Penn State’s 37-24 loss to Florida in the Outback Bowl.
Let’s start with the Bolden transfer.
No Bolden? No Problem
Less than 48 hours after Penn State’s 13-point loss to Florida in the Outback Bowl, Bolden’s father told a fan web site that his son intends to transfer out of Happy Valley and to another FBS program.
“It’s true, he’s looking to leave Penn State,” said Robert Bolden, Sr., told Lions247.com. “He’s notified the coaches, that’s as far as it’s gone so far. We’re waiting for the next step now.”
Bolden was apparently irked that he was not inserted into the lineup on Jan. 1, when former walk-on Matt McGloin threw five interceptions in the loss to the Gators.
Bolden’s father clearly wants his son out of Happy Valley ASAP.
“They’re not looking for him to leave, they don’t want him to leave, but he no longer wants to play at Penn State. He’s not happy at Penn State currently. If it was up to me, he definitely (would leave), without a doubt. He’s definitely made it known that he does not want to be there anymore.”
Nittany Nation was shocked when Paterno announced that Bolden would start the season. Bolden was the first true freshman to start for the iconic coach. In six games, Bolden went 3-3 as a starter. He posted wins over Youngstown State, Kent State and Temple. He lost starts against Alabama, Iowa and Illinois. He started in Penn State’s win at Minnesota but was injured and had to leave the game. He was yanked after starting against Northwestern after Penn State fell behind 21-0.
So who is at fault here? Is it coach Joe Paterno for mishandling Bolden? Or is it Bolden and his family for lacking patience?
We’re going to go with the Bolden clan.
Perhaps Bolden’s father should go back and watch the tape of the Northwestern game. In that contest, Bolden looked like a true freshman. In fact, he looked lost at times as Penn State fell behind by three scores. Had JoePa not yanked Bolden, he may not have gotten win No. 400. McGloin did a great job pulling that game out of the fire as Penn State won, 35-21.
Look, we don’t doubt that Bolden has talent. We saw glimpses of it in 2010. However, those glimpses were usually followed by disastrous decisions. Bolden took too many sacks, put the ball on the ground too many times and in the end threw too many picks.
The losses (Alabama, 24-3), (Iowa, 24-3) and Illinois (33-13) weren’t even close. The Homecoming loss to the Fighting Illini was downright embarrassing.
If Paterno had not replaced Bolden with McGloin, the Nittany Lions probably would have finished the year with just a handful of wins and would have been on the outside looking in when bowls were announced.
Bolden needs to take a lesson from former Nittany Lion QBs Michael Robinson and Daryll Clark. Robinson had to wait his turn behind Zack Mills, while Clark sat on the bench behind Anthony Morelli before he finally got a shot at the starting job. Both Robinson and Clark made the most of their opportunities. Robinson is now a solid fullback for the Seattle Seahawks while Clark is plying his trade in the Canadian Football League.
Instead, Bolden will go the Pat Devlin route and transfer out. He will likely finish his Penn State career having completed 112 of 193 passes for 1,360 yards. He tossed five touchdowns and seven interceptions. He will take that resume and his three victories with him to another FBS school.
Right now, there is panic in Nittany Nation. However, with McGloin coming back and Paul Jones waiting in the wings, the Nittany Lions will be just fine.
Two-Minute Drill: Outback Bowl
Game Ball To … Urban Meyer
The Gator head coach pushed all the right buttons in the 37-24 win. He had his team ready to play and it showed in the final score.
What Was He Thinking? … Matt McGloin
The former walk-on tossed just one TD and was picked off five times in the New Year’s Day loss. He made some poor decisions, throwing into coverage on several occasions. However, he was Paterno’s best option and the Lions were driving for a potential go-ahead score when his final pick of the afternoon was returned for a score.
Numerology … 5
The five interceptions jump off the stat sheet. Unfortunately, the Nittany Lion defense could generate just a pair of turnovers against the Gators.
Play of the Game … Ahmad Black picked off a McGloin offering and returned it 80 yards for a TD to slam the door on the Lions with just 55 seconds to play in the game.
5. Silas Redd – All season long, Nittany Nation clamored for the freshman to get a chance in the backfield. On Saturday, Redd got that chance, carrying the ball eight times for 13 yards – 1.6 yards per crack.
4. Lerentee McCray – McCray scooped up a blocked punt and raced 27 yards to paydirt to give the Gators a 14-7 lead midway through the second quarter. He showed some great athleticism, grabbing the loose ball and racing to the end zone.
3. Evan Royster – In his final game as a Nittany Lion, Royster rushed for 98 yards on 20 carries. He did not score a TD in his final game, though.
2. Chas Henry – The Florida kicker connected on three important field goals, hitting from 30-, 47- and 20 yards out. Although Florida got the pick six to seal the win, the field goals were equally important.
1. Ahmad Black – Black picked off two McGloin passes and racked up 129 yards in interception returns, including the 80-yard TD.
Chris Morelli is a writer/editor who lives in Centre County and covers Penn State athletics. He is also a regular on “Sports Central,” which airs on ESPN Radio in Altoona and State College. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, be sure to check out Morelli OnLion on Facebook!