I don’t remember the last time I didn’t buy the latest NCAA Football video game. It’s been with me through high school, through college, and all my (quasi)adult life. It’s always been there… up until this year. Now, thanks to the NCAA’s greed and Ed O’Bannon’s lawsuit, the NCAA Football franchise is dead. And boy do I sure miss it. Playing it today brought back so many memories from my LSU days, mostly revolving around my roommate and NCAA Dynasty-rival Keith Claverie (fellow Section 217 Krewe Member). While we didn’t know each other when he moved into my apartment Junior year, we became fast friends, and plenty of that bonding came over our passion for NCAA Football, both real and in video game form. We’d play dynasties that would go 10 seasons deep, all in the name of winning that coveted digital BCS Championship Trophy. Or in the name of getting the best recruiting class. Or maybe in the name of beating each other? But most definitely in the name of avoiding studying/doing homework/going to class in general. There were so many little things I enjoyed about that game:
- Seeing what the LSU player ratings were, and adjusting them according to just how much of a man-crush I had on each player. Let’s just say Chad Jones was the best safety to ever play the game of football by the time I was done with his ratings.
- The hunt for player names online. It used to be you’d have to input them yourself (screw that), so we would only have LSU and maybe a couple of more SEC teams entered in before we’d start the season. It was really a great way to learn the better players on each team, but it was a pain in the ass. Soon, you could order a memory card with the names pre-loaded, and eventually you could find the rosters on the Playstation network each season. While this was fun, I wish the names had come pre-loaded, but since the NCAA refused to share the profits from the game with the students whose images were in it, we had to jump through hoops to get them. And now we don’t even have a game altogether! Thanks, NCAA!
- Choosing which team we would control in the dynasty. We had different rules each time: Couldn’t be in the same conference, had to be in the same conference, the school’s rating could only be so many or so few stars. Despite these rules, I somehow ended up controlling LSU on multiple occasions. Keith hated this, I did not.
- Creating recruits. Now this is where we let our creative instincts run wild. You could give them any name you wanted. Who cares about their position/rating, if we had a funny name, you’ve won the recruiting process. My personal favorite creation: a 320 lbs defensive tackle named Lean Qua’sine. Dude was a beast on my d-line.
- Playing Keith. Oh yes, we were both super competitive, so these games meant a lot. Probably too much. We would both get on streaks where we’d beat each other several seasons in a row. It was great if you were riding that wave, and devastating if you were at the wrong end. Controllers were thrown, curse words were screamed and games were quit early. The worst was when there was awkward silence, be it during an intense in-game moment or a crushing post-game defeat, the silence was always the weirdest. It was great.
Every time I’ve played since college, I got back a little piece of those moments. Sure, I’m older, I don’t have as much time to play, but when I did it was like a little time machine back to the old college glory days. That was the appeal that NCAA Football had: you could take your alma mater and bring them to the promised land. I always preferred it to it’s Madden brethren; I thought the game play was more wide-open and loose, and I loved the recruiting process in NCAA. The worst part is this year WOULD OF HAD THE PLAYOFF FORMAT TO END THE SEASON!!!! I’d always wanted that option in the game; in a year it would finally be available, they can no longer make the game. I understand why this happened, I just hate that it could have been avoided. The NCAA made millions of dollars off this venture with EA Sports; why couldn’t they figure out how to share some of the profits with athletes? It’s just another reason to hate the crumbling old system. Maybe when it’s gone, we will get our game back. Until then, I’ll have to pop in NCAA Football 2014. It just won’t have the same feel to it.