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Nitt Picks Never Panics

We're not at Bolden-Day plus two. It's been two days since Penn State freshman quarterback Robert Bolden's dad let the world know that his son intended to transfer. There has been no report of any waivering on that decision, but today there is a small glimmer of hope as the young quarterback will have a meeting with Joe and Jay Paterno to discuss his future.

Penn State coach Joe Paterno and his son, Jay, the quarterbacks coach, will meet with freshman Rob Bolden today in State College in an effort to change his mind about transferring.

Bolden's father, Robert Bolden Sr., confirmed the meeting, but he said his son isn't interested in continuing his career at Penn State.

One thing that bugs me about all of this is we never get to hear what the younger Bolden has to say. Everything we hear is coming from his father. It's clear his dad is done with Penn State, but I wonder what his son thinks about packing up and leaving the friends he's made over the past semester in order to go to a FCS school where he'll never get to play on television, or go to a FBS school where he's going to have to sit out a year and still compete for a starting spot.

Parents have a tendency to be a bit irrational when it comes to their kids and sports. I've seen parents cheer when their kid acts like a bully pushing over little girls in a five year old soccer league. I'm sure after driving his son all over the country for a decade to participate in camps and such, he tends to believe no matter what the situation, his kid is the best athlete on the field. I'm sure on some level Rob Bolden Sr. sees his son as an investment. A ticket to a better life. He obviously feels that Penn State is robbing his son, and himself, of that opportunity.

A lot of people are blaming the Paterno's for screwing this up. Conceivably, if they had allowed Bolden to play more down the stretch of the season, all of this could have been avoided. But I do think the Bolden's are being a bit irrational here. It's rare that true freshmen ever play in college football. Bolden was in a special situation that didn't work out this year, but that doesn't mean his career at Penn State will never get off the ground. I'm not the only one that feels this way, as this will probably be the only time in my life I agree with Chris Morelli.

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.


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.

Look, Bolden played fantastically...for a freshman. But at the end of the day he still played like a freshman. Doesn't mean he'll never be good. It just means that for this season, and this season alone, he wasn't good enough to get this team to a bowl game. So now he has decided to take the easy way out and leave instead of staying on campus to try to beat out a walk on that went down in flames in Tampa. In my mind, that makes him a quitter, and all of the stuff we read an observed about the team not responding to him is instantly validated in my mind. If keeping Rob Bolden means three more years of dealing with a flat offense and an overbearing parent who feels he should be making personnel decisions and calling the plays, then good riddance. Penn State will be better off without the both of you.

And as Mike Poorman points out at, sometimes these setbacks that seem disasterous at the time have a funny way of working out in the end.

Quarterback Steve Joachim transferred from Penn State to Temple after lettering with the Lions in 1971. After sitting out a season, Joachim led the Owls to a 17-3 record in 1973 and 1974, including a 14-game winning streak. In 1974, he won the Maxwell Award as the nation’s top football player.

Paterno was 45 years old when Joachim left. Joe must have really screwed up.

Thing is, Penn State went 32-4 from 1972-74 – and 12-0 in 1973 -- with John Hufnagel, then Tom Shuman at quarterback. In there was a 24-game streak in which the Lions lost only once.

So who knows. Maybe Joachim would have meant another win. Maybe not.

Poorman points out about a half dozen other instances where some players decided to leave or stay, and in the end Penn State kept right on chugging along. They say knowledge of history is power. I believe this. Knowing our history allows us to put things in perspective and control our emotions. So everyone go read that article and tell me you don't come away feeling better about things. I assure you Penn State football will survive. Maybe not in the form we would all like to see it, but the 2011 season has not yet been canceled. Somehow, Penn State will manage to put eleven guys on the field.

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