At LSU, quarterback controversies usually stem from who to play.
This time, it’s who to take.
Rob Bolden visited LSU this past weekend, seeking refuge for the second half of his college career and exit the burned-out wreckage that until a week ago was the Penn State football program.
His visit has stirred intense local debate, to wit: Should LSU touch this guy?
Clearly, Bolden brings with him a checkered past in terms of on-the-field baggage.
The first true freshman to start at quarterback for Penn State in 100 years, Bolden suffered a concussion and eventually lost his starting job in 2010 to Matt McGloin. It was McGloin who new Penn State coach Bill O’Brien tabbed his starter earlier this offseason, while Bolden sank to third rung on the Nittany Lions depth chart.
Bolden has apparently been looking for a way out of Penn State since the end of his freshman year, but the late Joe Paterno wouldn’t give him a release. Bolden’s name has been scrubbed from the Penn State football roster, and he was given permission July 22 — a day before the NCAA’s nuclear winter enveloped what used to be Happy Valley — to ply his trade elsewhere.
The question is, does it have to be LSU?
Had the Tigers picked up, say, Penn State redshirt freshman safety Tim Buckley — he transferred Monday to North Carolina State — there would be few complaints. Since Penn State transfers don’t count against a new team’s scholarship totals, it’s like bolstering your depth for free.
Which brings us back to whether LSU should bail on Bolden or not.
The Tigers just rid themselves of what had to be their most divisive quarterback controversy ever between Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee. LSU is a one trick pony at quarterback this season with Zach Mettenberger at the wheel, and what some would call hype is also a fervent, almost religious desire among the Tiger faithful to be disciples of one quarterback deity and one only.
Mettenberger should be that man for LSU this season and there should be no doubt — unless he gets hurt. Then what would the detractors say should the Tigers be forced to ride into Auburn or Gainesville or even Mississippi State (a team just dangerous enough to give a depleted LSU team worry) with a green Stephen Rivers or Jerrard Randall running the show?
I don’t buy the argument that LSU is picking over Penn State’s carcass by considering Bolden. He wanted to leave Penn State even before the Sandusky scandal erupted, and Penn State clearly has lost faith in his abilities.
So, for sake of depth, for sake of that minimal chance that he may help LSU win a game it needs to win to stay on course for the BCS championship game, LSU should give Bolden a try if he wants to come.
But only as long as Bolden understands as Rivers and Randall understand: This year, the Tigers are operating out of a one-quarterback system.
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