Joe Paterno is being vilified for refusing to release disgruntled quarterback Rob Bolden from his scholarship.
Bolden and his father, Robert Bolden Sr., are upset at the lack of playing time rationed to Bolden in the final four games of the season, including last week's Outback Bowl in which starter Matt McGloin was intercepted five times.
Sources say Bolden's father brought a lot of attention to himself and the situation with loud negative comments in the stands at Raymond James Stadium, and he then met quarterbacks coach Jay Paterno outside the Penn State locker room afterward to further vent.
The next day, Bolden Sr. told several media outlets his son would seek a transfer.
The Boldens drove from Michigan to State College on Tuesday for a meeting with the Paternos, Joe and Jay, and Joe denied the transfer.
Some beg to differ, but I think Paterno did the right thing. Yes, it comes across as vindictive, but Paterno must put his team first.
Bolden will be back at PSU when classes resume Monday, according to his high school coach, and that's a good thing.
Despite last week's blowup, Bolden still has a good chance to be the Nittany Lions' starting quarterback in 2011. If he ends up staying, it likely will be a three-way competition between him, McGloin and Paul Jones.
Without Bolden, the position is tenuous.
Jones redshirted last year in part because he got out of the gate slowly academically, and the Beaver Stadium crowd is not going to take kindly to McGloin's next interception.
And JoePa was supposed to allow Bolden to leave because the kid was or still is a little unhappy? Who isn't unhappy at Penn State right now?
If Jones is injured and we find out McGloin can't handle defenses better than the ones he carved up against Michigan and Northwestern - and even if he can - Bolden may prove to be the best of the three next season.
Surely, Paterno wants the whole situation to calm down so a more rational decision can be made. If Bolden still prefers to transfer after the spring or before the 2011 season, then his presence would be a distraction, and it will be in PSU's best interest to let him go.
By then, Penn State will have a better feel for what Jones can do, by then McGloin might recognize opposing safeties lurking in the flat, and by then, the Lions can begin recruiting another quarterback.
But for now, sulking or not, Penn State needs Bolden.
Further, significant playing time was invested in the true freshman, and for Paterno to buckle would compromise the program and send a message that any young player not thrilled with his snap number can have his dad carry on and leave after seven months.
If Paterno signed the letter, it would indicate a lack of tolerance - and, yes, vindictiveness - on his part and enabled the immaturity the Boldens have shown.
To reward that behavior would allow Bolden to go somewhere and be eligible for spring drills. After the disruption Bolden Sr. caused, did the family deserve the courtesy - and the luxury - of participating in two spring practices before becoming eligible somewhere in 2012?
This is not to suggest Paterno is trying to teach a lesson. There's no doubt he's livid at how the situation unraveled, and you can be sure he hates it when a player's dad gets loose publicly rather than handling it privately.
But his decision is not unique. There are plenty of examples of coaches who have not released athletes from commitments, especially this early in their careers.
By the way, the NCAA letter-of-intent, in order to keep some semblance of order, mandates that a player must stay one full academic year or, in this case, until the end of the spring 2011 semester. If Bolden leaves school before then without being released, he not only must sit out a year, but he also must pay his own way, and he is further penalized with the loss of a year's eligibility.
That means if Bolden splits without a release before June, when he gets around to playing somewhere else in the fall of 2012, he'll only have two years left. Otherwise, with a release in the coming months, Bolden would not have to pay his own way, and he'd have three years left.
That's a huge difference, and one that can help the Boldens decide just how badly they want out of Penn State.
Getting Bolden back to school is the first step. Rebuilding trust in each other is the next.
Rudel can be reached at 946-7527 or firstname.lastname@example.org.