Rob Bolden has been a spark plug of debate among the Penn State community, whether he intended to be or not. When word spread that he was looking to transfer out of the program, there were some fans who felt that he was turning his back on the program and it would be wise to part ways with him under those circumstances.
But he's back, and it appears he is preparing for the 2011 season with Penn State. If this is going to be the case, what reasons should Penn State have for offering him a second chance as the starting quarterback?
I asked for reasons via Twitter, and the feedback was tremendous. Here is a sampling of what Penn State fans had to say to me about the topic, along with my follow-up commentary. All responses were used with permission.
Ben Jones from Victory Bell Rings was quick to respond with this rather simple and clear logic, and it may be true.
McGloin had a couple of good moments in 2010, but there was plenty of negative memories from McGloin's play last season between the Ohio State game and Outback Bowl against Florida. Bolden has more room to grow and more potential behind him because he is younger and more athletic than McGloin. If he can improve in his second season, there should be some positive results on the field in 2011 if he takes on a significant role in the offense.
Bolden never saw a start after being pulled from the Northwestern game. After being hit from behind and fumbling the football, Bolden was replaced by McGloin in his first start following his concussion two weeks before against Minnesota. Don't forget that Bolden was 3-for-4 for 43 yards until being pulled from the game. McGloin was behind center on a night Penn State had two running backs go for over 130 yards on the ground. Is there a legitimate reason to believe Bolden would have prevented Penn State form winning that game?
That is still up for debate.
Balis also points out that McGloin threw five interceptions in the Outback Bowl but was never removed from the game.
Paternoville's Vice President and co-host of Front Row View on Penn State's ComRadio Mike Higgz says something that has clearly become a theme of this poll. Bolden is the team's best option behind center, at least between he and McGloin.
Higgz has a stronger statement regarding McGloin, though, suggesting that fans have reached their limit with McGloin. Without a doubt, the Outback Bowl left a sour taste in the mouths of the fans this past January, and a change, or return, to Bolden may be just the medicine they need to start moving forward with a smile on their face.
Higgz also added that we may have seen McGloin's ceiling in 2010. Bolden's ceiling could be much higher right now.
Onward State editor and Paternoville President John Tecce agrees with the others who have offered their opinions. Tecce thinks that Bolden has the potential to become one of the top quarterbacks in the Big Ten, and why not?
Bolden was highly recruited out of high school, has shown some good arm strength and ability to move around the field. If he can have some protection from the offensive line and can start converting inside the red zone, then Bolden could easily start being recognized around the league as an offensive weapon.
But he has to improve his game, and that should happen as he enters just his sophomore season at Penn State. Tecce added later that the quarterback that gives Penn State the best chance to win against equal (Illinois, Iowa) or superior competition (Alabama, Wisconsin).
Penn State student and contributor to Nittany Lion's Den Derek Aschman is a bit more cautious than some of those who responded. Tecce said that he believes Bolden will give Penn State a better chance to win some of the tougher games than McGloin. Achman agrees with that take, but reminds everyone that most of us do not know how well Bolden has been playing during practices.
We may get some scouting reports from time to time, but we collectively have to take the word of the coaching staff when it comes to knowing where the quarterbacks stand. With an abbreviated and rain soaked Blue White game, that is even more so the case this summer.
Recent Penn State grad Alex Cohen has another thought that tends to have others supporting it. In order for Bolden to be successful in his second season behind center, the coaches will need to trust him more with the playbook.
When McGloin was the starter last season, there was a change of pace on offense, and it was not necessarily just because of the quarterback, but rather because there were different plays called. This was to be expected because Joe Paterno has a history of holding back younger players until they are more proven, especially at a key position such as quarterback. Bolden was already breaking new ground by starting as a freshman at quarterback, but the plays he was asked to make were fairly vanilla.
Might that change in 2011 with Bolden starting under center once again? It should be expected.
Don't be so quick to anoint Bolden the starter for 2011, says Twitter user @bluedevilmontco. While Bolden was walking in and playing for the first time, a lot of people forget that McGloin was too for the most part. Will McGloin show progress following a year as the starter for Penn State? Maybe, but the overwhelming responses to this topic seem to say otherwise.
This summer, if there is no question that Bolden is the better option, then by all means, he should be named the starter for the 2011 opener against Indiana State and the following week against Alabama.
Twitter user @djtoennies agrees with some of the previous statements mentioned here. Penn State needs some talent running the offense, and if the decision needs to be made between Bolden and McGloin, chalk this up as another vote for Bolden.
Adam Schellenberger, a former Penn State student and preacher in Virginia, says what a number of fans have said. He would rather Bolden fail while learning and growing before McGloin gets a chance to throw a game away. It makes sense.
Bolden, as we have said numerous times already, has room to grow and has a higher ceiling to reach. Getting a chance to play in 2011 will surely come with some more hiccups as he learns to read defenses and respond to pressure (watch out in week two against Alabama), and many fans seem to be fine letting him learn from his mistakes if it means he makes adjustments moving forward.
One of the main forces behind JoePa's Dogouse, known on Twitter as @RowlffDogg, says that going forward with McGloin is just as good as saying that a season ending in a second-rate or third-rate bowl game is A-OK.
That pretty much sums up the bulk of the reactions this topic generated on Twitter in short time. Maybe it is a vocal minority, but the initial response received on the Internet clearly showed that Penn State fans are ready to embrace Bolden once again as the quarterback, and there was a common theme as to why Bolden is the favorite.
Bolden has more potential than McGloin.
You can feel free to debate that opinion, but if you want to see Penn State make some progress on the field, this season the best bet may be to give the offense to Bolden and see what he can do. Maybe it will work and maybe it won't, but fans seem ready to watch Bolden take the next steps in his progression, even if it means he takes a few more lumps and hits a few speed bumps on the way.
No matter who the quarterback is this season, this is not a BCS championship caliber team. But which quarterback gives Penn State the better chance to be playing on January 2? That is the question that needs to be answered.