When it comes to sports video games, the EA Sports NCAA Football franchise ranks among the best. NCAA Football 14 is my favorite sports video game to date. Whether it was playing “Road to Glory Mode” to go from high school star to Heisman Trophy winner, the ability to recruit against your friends in an online dynasty mode, moving up the coaching ranks from coordinator to head coach, or winning national championships— I loved it all. The game franchise was forced to end in 2013 due to the Ed O’Bannon suit regarding player likeness. This was right when Baylor football was nearing its peak. Robert Griffin III (NCAA Football 13 cover athlete) was a year removed from winning the Heisman trophy and the new McLane Stadium was nearing completion.
In late 2021, EA Sports announced it will be finally reviving the franchise in Summer 2023. In this article, I will explain the five must-have features for the college football franchise on next-gen (gamer-talk for PS5 and Xbox Series X/S). Here we go…
As I’m writing this article, there have been a whopping 900+ players in the transfer portal since August 2021 and, with the newly instated transfer rules, players no longer have to sit out for a season prior to lacing the cleats up for their new squad. Love it or hate it, it has changed the game of college football forever. This should be reflected in the new game. In dynasty mode during the season, there should be a viewing option of a transfer portal— including an ongoing list of players who have announced that they plan to transfer next season due to playing time, moving closer to home, coaching changes, better NIL opportunities, etc. As a coach, you can keep a tab on the guys you may want to pursue. The list can fluctuate (just like in real life) as the season goes on, with a possibility of more names being added at the end of the season. On the other end, players on your team can decide to leave for the portal and you can have the opportunity to pitch for them to stay at the end of the season. It would be a great dynamic to try and pursue a stud to stay or pursue a player on the portal that may fit your scheme better.
Athletic Director Mode
The importance of having a competent athletic director at a university can be the difference between hiring the next Nick Saban or shuffling through coaches like a game of blackjack. They set the foundation and direction a college program goes in— from hiring coaches, upgrading facilities, setting ticket prices, and anything it takes to make a program successful. The Athletic Director or “AD Mode”, users will be in control of an entire football program from top to bottom. Hire the right head coach to lead the team to new heights, seek partnerships for your school to gain revenue, and upgrade facilities to improve recruiting. On the revenue front, it could also be used to seek partnerships with brands to attract recruits with NIL deals as well. The possibilities are endless. All in all, the “AD Mode” would allow you to be in control of the ins and outs of the football program.
We know that the NCAA won’t be involved in this game and thank God because: 1) they suck, 2) it gives EA more freedom and flexibility with this game, and 3) they suck. The landscape of college football has changed tremendously since the last edition of the game. Conference realignment has been the main topic of discussion besides NIL over the past few years and rightfully so. We’ve seen Texas and Oklahoma seek greener pastures in the SEC (insert eye roll here), while the Big 12 has added a handful of programs to keep the conference intact. The changes have been so quick and dramatic that it should be reflected in the game. The ability to edit conferences and teams within the conference (whether inside dynasty mode or in the main menu), would allow users to easily reflect the movement in the real world. In dynasty mode, conference realignment talks or negotiations should become a storyline throughout multiple seasons and it should impact teams on a year-to-year basis.
NCAA Football 14 was released one year before the NCAA adopted the playoff model for college football. I would presume that next year’s game would have the playoff at the end of each regular season, but it needs to be up to the user how they want to implement it. With the ongoing debate now on whether a 4, 6, 8, or 16-team playoff model is best, dynasty users should be able to decide what model they want to use each season during the off-season.
Rushing The Field
Ask any student what’s on their college bucket list and I’m sure rushing the field makes the cut. Nothing matches college football pageantry like beating your #1 CFB playoff ranked rival on senior night and storming the field - a signal that your squad created the ultimate chaos. In EA Sports College Football, we need to see fields covered in a sea of fans embracing what we call “upset city.”
EA has their work cut out for them to make a great product. Fans of the older games will compare their new release to what they know and love from previous editions. They’ve gotten a lot of flack on what the Madden product has become, so it’s important to take a strong first step in Summer 2023. While I’ve limited this to only five features I’d like to see in the new NCAA game, the opportunities are endless.
If you agree or disagree, feel free to let me know on Twitter or in the comments! Also, if you’ve read this entire article, I can assume that you’re a fan of the NCAA football franchise and as excited as I am for the return of college football to video games. I’ve got a really cool “project” I’m planning for Our Daily Bears and the NCAA football franchise, so be on the lookout for that. Until next time…