R.E.D: The Stars, The Results, The Coaching

(This is a "rebuttal* to Fugi's "Throw out the stars")

Penn State recruiting might be one of the most talked about topics for you Internet crazed folk. It makes sense, people want to see who is coming into the program and who isn't. I myself, I try not to get too worked up about it. I'm happy when people sign on the dotted line, but I'm not going to let some 18 year old kid ruin my day.

Going hand in hand with recruitment though is Execution, and Development. A nice, quickly thrown together acronym to think about a player's career: R.E.D. Lets see how this applies to Rob Bolden and Matt McGloin.

Recruitment:

Recruitment is the building block to R.E.D. It doesn't define your future, but it measure the tools that you have coming into the game. In lot of ways you have to give Fugi credit though. A player isn't automatically going to be the best ever just because of a numerical value attached to their name. Plenty of big names never pan out in the NFL, but in college, if you're a 5 star recruit anything short of greatness is a failure. Sometimes a kid just can't transition.

That being said, stars and rating are a consistent way to measure Player A against Player B. To get rid of stars because they aren't always an accurate depiction of a player's future is to hold the system to unfair expectations. A rating system isn't put in place to measure anything other than potential as it is measured against a player's peers. Potential is certainly not the same thing as execution but it's a measuring stick of skill, not personality. Until Scout starts sitting down with every recruit and gives them a "Teamwork" score it is going to stay that way. In the end, If you're going to get stuck with 2 quarterbacks with ego issues, it's better than getting stuck with 2 quarterbacks with no skill and ego issues.

In our case we've got two polar opposites. A walk-on and a 5 star recruit. How does McGloin get overlooked? I have no idea, but it was the same way with Jordan Norwood and plenty of other Penn Staters. The question doesn't become "Why can't Bolden beat a walk-on" as much as it is "Why does that thought bother us so much?" We'll come back to that.

Execution:

This really should be the last part, but since R.D.E doesn't spell anything we're just going to go with it. Either way, execution is what makes a player. No amount of "Star-age" will help you out on the field but it might get you there. Execution is in an endless cycle with Development. A recruit enters with their tools, and between the Development and Execution a player grows. Coaches can change how you approach the game, your mechanics and IQ, but when you step out on to the field it's all about what you've got between your ears. Like any sport, a coach can only teach you, he can't play for you.

For Matt McGloin and Rob Bolden, execution was about the same. Sure McGloin went derp a few more times and Bolden played well against better defenses, but minus a bowl game, both players put up similar numbers when their number was called. It isn't McGloin's fault that he started games against bad defenses and played well, and conversly it isn't Bolden's fault he only faced tough defenses. What it comes down to, is two players with similar numbers, you can speculate performance going forward but that isn't enough to make a wise long term decision. Hence why the position was opened up again this spring.

Development:

This is key in a player's career and also a hotly debated amongst all of you. In the end, this too is only part of the puzzle. When QB 14 went out on to the field and threw passes into the ground, it wasn't Jay Paterno's fault for not reminding him that bounce passes didn't count in football. That being said, a player can only be so good on his own. Without proper guidance and development a player's ceiling is only so high. Maybe QB 14 wasn't as good as his stars, but at the same time he didn't get a whole lot better as he went along.

Really in the end, that's what the quarterback situation comes down to. Development. Stars don't matter, the execution was about even, and all there is left is to make one of these guys better. It doesn't matter what a player was ranked, if he doesn't take a step forward in the offseason, that's as much the coaching staff's fault as it is the players. For Matt McGloin and Rob Bolden it's about getting over the mental hump of fighting for the job and just going out and doing it.

So back to our question from the top: "Why does it bother us McGloin might just win the job?" Some of it is putting too much stock in the stars. We see a number and we expect something in return, when it doesn't happen it is alarming that somebody with so much ranked potential can't get the job done. Normally this would be an anomaly but it shouldn't be lost on anyone that Penn State has really only given the NFL one legit quarterback since I was born. That is the bigger issue at hand.

Now I'm not one to troll the coaches. I've talked to Jay more than once, and he talks about football with an IQ higher than we give him credit for, but with 4 talented (at various levels) quarterbacks Penn State ought to be able to field a team with at least one guy under center with more than 3 pounds of brain matter between his ears. That is the problem, not too high of expectations, or somebody getting the shaft. Penn State has had the same quarterbacking crew for a season now, and is no closer to finding a starter than they were a year ago. That fault doesn't lie within a rating system, or failed recruiting. Simply, it's just bad management.

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