Posted by Adam Jacobi
Penn State may be 8-1 and rolling this season, but fans are still being driven crazy this year by the continuing quarterback platoon system between Matt McGloin and Rob Bolden. McGloin hasn't been great by any stretch, but aside from a 1-10, 0-yard horror show against Alabama, he's been hands-down better than Bolden, both overall and especially in Big Ten action.
And yet, week after week, Joe Paterno steadfastly refuses to hand the job to McGloin full-time. That trend seemed like it should finally be at an end last week, when McGloin led a game-winning, 80-yard touchdown drive against Illinois while Bolden went 0-4 with two fumbles in limited action. Enough is enough, right? Well... no:
"I don't see any problem with him right now," Paterno said. "Now maybe something develops down the road that I don't know about. But right now, he appears to be fine."
"We're still gonna do it as a rotation. It wouldn't be fair to Bolden for me not to consider him as one of the kids [we play]. He's worked too hard, made too many sacrifices and he's got too much ability for me just because of one football game or two football games to say, 'Hey, we're not counting on you.'
"He's gotta be ready to go. We'll play him, I'm pretty sure. But again, we have this week and next week to go back to some basic things and see what happens."
As admirably inclusive as Paterno's stance is, it's still enough to make the Nittany faithful tear their hair out. Rob Bolden's numbers in Big Ten action are 11-31, 138 yards, no touchdowns, and one pick. That's good enough for a 66.43 quarterback rating, and if that sounds terrible, we assure you, it is. By way of comparison, the NCAA's leading passer is Russell Wilson with a 196.95 rating, and the NCAA stops keeping count at No. 100 with Kolton Browning of UL-Monroe -- and even his rating is 110.93.
And yet, Bolden keeps getting snaps.
Perhaps Paterno's notion is that McGloin could go down with an injury at any moment, and Bolden's the only other person on the roster that Paterno's comfortable with having throw a pass in a close game -- and on this year's Penn State team, they're ALL close games. And as long as Bolden hasn't cost PSU a win with his poor play, the thinking might go, he hasn't done that much harm.
But if Bolden can't be bothered to take practice seriously without getting snaps on Saturday, then he's not a positive member of the program. And if he can still care without taking any of McGloin's playing time, well, there's a pretty simple solution right in front of everybody.