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Penn State Football: Kevin's Refrain Is NewNew, But Bolden's Favre Act Is Growing Old

by on March 20, 2011 11:52 PM

You have to like the way Kevin Newsome is handling Joe Paterno’s quarterback dilemma/battle now that Penn State’s official spring practices have started.

Like Rob Bolden, Newsome said he was going to transfer. And like Bolden, he is still in Happy Valley. For now.

Newsome’s goal is clear, as his latest song states. He is working to “Set You Apart” (referring to himself).

In fact, he’s put his challenge to music. A talented piano player, with a pretty good voice, he uses the stage name NewNew. And his latest cut talks of working through “trials and tribulations,” responsibilities and even Marshall Faulk and Rich Rod.

And Newsome, God bless ’em, is working to b sharp (a little music humor; very little) in public since appearing on The Daily Collegian’s front page in December, saying a sorta good-bye to Penn State at a student performance.

“It’s not how you fell,” he says at the start of his NewNewest track. "It’s how you get up.”

For a guy who was the second-string quarterback in 2009 and the third-stringer in 2010, it’s impressive. He still has fight.

And he lets his music do the talking.

That’s unlike Bolden, whose talk may be getting him a bad rap.

Since the end of the Outback Bowl, Bolden -- silent all of the 2010 season since as a freshman he was off-limits to the press-- has been part Ochocino and part Kardashian.

Bolden says he’s still up in the air whether he will transfer after this spring semester. In January, Paterno would not release Bolden from his scholarship. That meant if Bolden left Penn State at that time, he would have lost a year of eligibility. By waiting, if Bolden transfers to a BCS school, he must still sit out a season, but he’ll also have three years of eligibility remaining.

Since then, Bolden’s been coy. And talkative. Not Charlie Sheen talkative, but his indecision certainly doesn’t clash with a former NFL quarterback’s refrain of "Should I Stay or Should I Go?"

Brett Favre, meet Rob Bolden.

Bolden’s 2011 has already been quite the saga, although no one’s made a single trip to Orchard Lake, Mich., Bolden’s hometown. Yet.

Let’s talk a look at the Bolden timeline:

EMBOLDENED

Early January: When Bolden returned to Penn State to start the spring semester, he tweeted: “Finally back...the right thing to do??? #wingsover.” (Wingsover is an homage to his favorite wings joint.)

Mid-February: Bolden performed with his teammates on the stage in the Bryce Jordan Center for THON. He was front and center – along with 305-pound freshman DaQuan Jones – of the football team’s dance routine, and he also had a follow-up interview for GoPSUSports.com, Penn State’s official sports website.

He showed a Matt McGloin-like cockiness on the stage, something not evident on the playing field last season.

Late February: Bolden did a video interview with FightOnState.com’s Mark Brennan while at an Uplifting Athletes event. Bolden was very clear in voicing his indecision about staying at Penn State.

“There is no definite answer on if I'm gonna stay or if I'm gonna leave,” Bolden told Brennan. “We're just gonna wait it out, see what happens in the spring and go from there…I'm here for the spring, (so) we'll ball up and go from there.”

Last Wednesday: Bolden was blunt again, in an impromptu interview with some beat reporters outside of Holuba Hall, where NFL scouts were working out Stefen Wisniewski, Evan Royster and a handful of others.

"Nothing is official," he said, as reported by Ron Musselman of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “I'm just here to see how it goes, to see what I can learn, see how I feel about my coaches…I'm just here to see how the spring goes, see what I can learn from these guys and see if I stay or if I decide to go."

IF IT’S GOOD ENOUGH FOR JOHN SHAFFER…

This is unlike many of the quarterback battles of Penn State’s past.

Often, the eventual losing QB gave his all – Joachim, Hostetler, McCoy, Senneca – then fairly quietly transferred or graduated early. They may have been disgruntled, but they did most of their grunting in private.

Often, they just sucked it up and stuck it out. Witness John Shaffer. He entered his final spring practice fighting for the starting job, despite guiding the 1985 Nittany Lions to an 11-1 record, a regular-season ending No. 1 ranking and what was, in essence, the national championship game.

Right after the team got back from the Orange Bowl in Miami, where it lost 25-10 to Oklahoma, Paterno summoned Shaffer to his office.

“John,” Joe said, “the quarterback job is open. You’ll have to compete with (Matt) Knizner for it.”

Of course, that was 25 years ago and it was John Shaffer, who was a senior.

Shaffer was not as athletically gifted as Knizner, but he was smart and a leader. And a hard worker. He went out that spring and summer and won the job. Again. And then he led Penn State to a perfect season and the national championship, finishing 23-1 as a Penn State starter.

It is a story Shaffer repeated to the Penn State quarterback corps last fall, when he was on campus to visit. At the time, not one of the Lion quarterbacks – Bolden, McGloin or Newsome – was comfortably set as the starter.
 
The impact of Shaffer’s message seems to be mixed.

OTHER QBS, TOO

How McGloin and Newsome have acted publicly has been admirable.

Sure, McGloin-- the Lions’ starter over the second half of 2010 -- said Bolden “would make a good backup” when queried over winter break about the freshman’s possible transfer. And he had a prolonged hissy fit via Twitter. (Just when does Joe pull the plug on that?)

Since then, nothing. Maybe someone got to him. Or it may be the five interceptions McGloin threw against Florida in the Outback Bowl. Or the fact that the Lions lost three of their last four games on the way to a 7-6 record. Whatever, but McG has been quiet.

And NewNew seems to have his act together.
 
If only Bolden would follow their lead. You know, like:

“I’m here to compete. I’m going to give it my all in all that I do – in class, in the weight room, on the practice field. I can only control what I can do. I want to prove that I am the best quarterback on campus.”

Or: “This has been a learning experience for me. And that is what college is all about. No matter where I end up, Penn State has already taught me a great deal.”

Or: “Coach Paterno is a legend. I mean, he’s been here for 46 seasons as a head coach. If he thinks I need to be here, who am I to question his motives? I’ll still make the final decision, but I truly value his counsel and direction.”

Or: “No comment.”

He may be saying those things to his coaches and teammates – just not to the media.

PENN STATE STUDENT SENTIMENT

Several of Bolden’s fellow students last week said they already have had enough. I polled a group of 20 Penn State juniors and seniors about the Nittany Lions’ quarterback situation, and they couldn’t have been less enthused.

I asked who thinks Bolden will leave. Four or five raised their hands.

If he stays, will he start? Five or six hands.

Should McGloin start? Five, maybe six hands.

“Hey, what about Newsome?” one kid piped up, drawing a few giggles.

Otherwise, the students -- ardent sports fans all -- were quiet. It was an effort for them to raise their hands, let alone state their POV. That’s rare.

“What’s going on?” I asked.

They answered: “We’re tired of it…It doesn’t matter who’s quarterback…The result will be the same…He should just be quiet.”

This wasn’t general student malaise. It was like a TMZ haze. They had heard enough.

Maybe, just maybe, that’s why Paterno doesn’t allow freshmen to talk to the media. Joe is, after all, old enough to remember Art Linkletter’s TV show from the 1950s and ’60s:

 “Kids Say the Darndest Things.”

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Mike Poorman has covered Penn State football since 1979. He is a senior lecturer in Penn State's College of Communications and teaches a pair of classes in the John Curley Center for Sports Journalism: “Sports Writing” and “Introduction to the Sports Industry.” He created and taught for several years the Center’s course on “Joe Paterno, Communications and The Media.” Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/PSUPoorman. His views and opinions do not necessarily reflect those of Penn State University.
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