On the very day the normally staid Big Ten Conference went radical by announcing a newfangled two-division alignment to accommodate its new 12-school lineup, the league’s most curmudgeonly coach, Penn State’s Joe Paterno, broke a personal longstanding tradition.
Paterno, who would rather alter the Nittany Lions’ familiar conservative uniform scheme to include blue helmets and white shoes than start a true freshman at quarterback, did just that yesterday in naming Robert Bolden as the winner of the most drawn-out, confusing and perhaps temporary position competition since JoePa arrived on campus as a 23-year-old assistant coach in 1950.
Bolden, a 6-3, 221-pounder who played last season at St. Mary’s Prep in Orchard Lake, Mich., will take first snap in Saturday’s season-opening game against Youngstown State in Beaver Stadium.
The backups – for now – are 6-2, 225-pound sophomore Kevin Newsome and 6-1, 209-pound redshirt soph Matt McGloin.
“Based on what we have seen to this point, Bolden has a slight edge right now, but we are confident all three quarterbacks are ready to go and hope to give them an opportunity to play until we settle on the one that gives us the best chance to win,” Paterno said in a statement that suggested the selection is a definite maybe.
Bolden, who replaces two-time All-Big Ten quarterback Daryll Clark, is 1A on the depth chart, with McGloin 1B and Newsome 1C.
Bolden will be the first true freshman to open a season at quarterback since Wally Richardson played against Cincinnati in 1992.