Joe Paterno is 83 years old, has 394 wins and is about to enter his 45th season as head coach, but never before has he done what he will do Saturday.
The coach who for decades has seemed philosophically opposed to playing freshmen will start a youngster at quarterback who only arrived on Penn State's campus in May.
True freshman Robert Bolden has beaten out sophomores Kevin Newsome and Matt McGloin, JoePa announced Wednesday, and will be under center when the Nittany Lions open up against Youngstown State.
"Based on what we have seen to this point, Bolden has a slight edge right now," Paterno said in a university statement Wednesday, "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."
How unusual is this move by Paterno? Not at all, according to former PSU All-American and NFL receiver Kenny Jackson.
"Think about it," Jackson said. "Joe is 83 years old and still coaching. That's unusual.
"Joe survives everything by changing and adapting. You don't survive coaching football for that many years and being that successful if you can't adapt. That's what everybody should understand. ... Joe is not staying in the 1950s."
Only two true freshmen have ever started a game at quarterback under JoePa, those being Tony Sacca in 1988 and Wally Richardson in 1992. Both of those scenarios involved extenuating circumstances, so it wasn't like they were better than every other quarterback on the roster.
That apparently is the case with Bolden, a 6-foot-4, 208-pound Michigan product who has impressed everyone since arriving at Penn State.
Still, conventional wisdom suggested that Paterno, as he has always done, would give the older guy a shot first. That would have been Newsome, a true sophomore, or McGloin, a redshirt sophomore.
"Obviously the kid has something that Joe understands can help them win," Jackson said of Bolden. "And not just this week. The game that's very, very important is the next game."
That would be at defending national champ and No. 1 Alabama on Sept. 11.
"Joe is not thinking about Youngstown. No way," Jackson said. "Joe is thinking about the future of this program.
"[Bolden's] athleticism is off the charts, and you're not going to Alabama without playing with somebody that can give Alabama problems, because Alabama's going to have a good defense. Nick Saban's life is good defense. This kid can escape, has mobility, everything doesn't have to be drawn up."
Jackson strongly believes Paterno took his time with the decision and didn't make it in haste.
"I just know Joe, and I know him well enough to know that he's really thought about it," Jackson said. "All the kids had an opportunity, it was very fair. And if [Bolden] doesn't perform, the next guy will come in."
Cory Giger is the host of "Sports Central" from 4 to 6 p.m. daily on ESPN Radio 1430 WVAM. He can be reached at 949-7031 or firstname.lastname@example.org.