Joe Paterno to Robert Bolden: You’ll Play For Me, Or You’ll Play For No One

Robert Bolden, the former starting quarterback for the Nittany Lions (he started eight games before being benched in favor of Matt McGloin) has asked for his release—and been denied.

Apparently, Bolden isn’t interested in the prospect of being in competition with a walk-on (Matt McGloin) and a wild card (Kevin Newsome) as he enters his sophomore season. By all accounts, he’s probably imagining that his prospects could be much better elsewhere. Unfortunately for him, Paterno expects him to honor his commitment to the Lions and play out his existing contract…oops, wrong sport, sorry.

Paterno expects him to honor the letter of intent he signed last February, and won’t jeopardize his depth chart simply because some 19-year old kid is unhappy about his minutes—this might be a good time to mention that the 2011 class for the Lions is looking thin and there isn’t a quarterback prospect anywhere in the mix. If Penn State loses Bolden, it’s Newsome and McGloin—assuming Newsome doesn’t decide to transfer. 

Translation: things could become Unhappy, in Happy Valley, very quickly.

While you must applaud Paterno’s gumption in playing chicken with his young star, the first question you have to ask is why bother keeping a guy who doesn’t want to play for you? Aren’t you just tempting fate and taking a major risk that his discontent trickles into your locker room?

Why bother?

On the other hand, perhaps Paterno is gambling that Bolden hasn’t really thought this through, and he’s really just doing him a favor. After all, why waste a year of eligibility sitting behind someone else, at another FBS school, when you could feasibly come in and win the starting job in the spring.

Patience is a virtue, right?

Whatever his motivation, Paterno is taking a pretty big risk in denying this kid his out. We’ll soon see if it’s a gamble that pays off.

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