Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

Now-former Nittany Lion quarterback Steven Bench "sad" his Penn State career is over. He'll be transferring at the end of the spring semester.

Steven Bench wouldn't elaborate on much Wednesday evening, just hours after Penn State announced the sophomore quarterback from Georgia was transferring from the program at the end of the spring semester.

His conversation with Nittany Lion head coach Bill O'Brien? Nope. The list of schools that had already expressed their interest in his services? Nadda. The people helping him navigate the noise and static of a sudden need to find a new home amid the final days of the academic calendar? Not that, either.

But what the signal caller did make clear is that if given the choice, he wouldn't change the decision he made in January 2012 to flip his college commitment from Rice to Penn State, even if his tenure at University Park only lasted a little over a year.

“There's a ton of stuff that I've learned, especially about football and playing the quarterback position, from Coach O'Brien,” Bench said. “There's all sorts of things from him, just about leading and coverages. There's a lot of stuff I learned, football wise.”

He also learned plenty off the field. Being a charter member of the first Penn State team to play under four-years of NCAA sanctions, there's no question in the 6-foot-2, 205-pounder's mind that the program's triumphs and tribulations of the past year taught him much.

It's what he'll take with him to wherever he ends up next. Bench explained that he met with O'Brien Tuesday afternoon for his spring evaluation, the type of meeting each player on the roster already has had or will have with the coach.

He didn't explain what was said, but noted after what he coined a good talk, he “had some decisions to make.” A call to his parents was next, and little sleep followed as Tuesday turned into Wednesday.

Bench realizes his decision may seem fast, but he says it has to be, and he's right. With nearly every other FBS program also done with spring drills, he'll have a hill to climb in any quarterback race in which he lands.

Working in his favor is that -- thanks to the NCAA sanctions against Penn State -- he will be eligible to play immediately should he transfer to another FBS program. He also believes he made plenty of strides this winter and spring.

“I think I improved greatly, and I feel like I had a pretty good spring,” he explained. “That's how I feel, and you know, I feel like I got a lot better during the spring.

“I did some good things, and not some good things, and I kept getting better. In one word: 'improvement.' That was my spring practice.”

Bench would not put a timetable on his decision-making process, but it's unlikely to come before he completes his coursework at University Park. Final exams begin Monday, and he noted that his pending decision cannot cause his classroom performance to suffer over the next week.

The coming days -- and maybe weeks -- will be spent fielding calls from potential suitors, and he'll probably make some, as well. But now, “there is business to take care of.” The rest will take care of itself, and whenever it does, he'll be ready for it.

“We went through a lot, and no matter where I am, I'll still be a part of that 2012 team that has the year up in Beaver Stadium,” Bench said. “I was here since June of last year and when the sanctions hit, and it taught me how to deal with some hard stuff that may or may not have been fair.

“It's just kind of been a good journey, and it's sad that it's over,” he continued. “But I learned a lot from it, and wouldn't change it.”


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