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What if EA’s NCAA Football was released in 2020?

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NCAA Football ‘20 won’t be back this year but what if it hits shelves next summer?

NCAA Football: Miami Spring Game Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

I will preface my post by saying I do believe the players should be paid for their likeness, image, etc. Everyone deserves to make money on their name regardless of their academic or athletic situation. I don’t like any situation that inherently creates a culture of lying. My feelings extend from bagmen, to the amateur rules, to redshirting and other aspects of college athletics. However for the case of this post, I think players should be paid.

Now that I got that part out of the way... what if our college football fandom dreams come true and EA’s NCAA Football 2021 hits the shelves around 4th of July weekend in 2020? It’s way too soon to get a game out for 2019, but over a year to port the game from Madden to NCAA can’t be unreasonable. There’s a market for the game and especially with it being off the shelves for so long many customers would buy a copy just to make sure it’s back for good.

There were a lot of great parts to NCAA ‘14 and it’s a still really playable experience to this day. I still have a dynasty going with the Colorado Buffaloes that I started when I moved to Oregon from a few years ago. The best part about the game is it’s really fun. I’ve ran a dynasty with the Hurricanes, but also Colorado and Navy. I’ve ran three different offenses (pro, spread option and flexbone) and two different defenses (3-4 and 4-2-5) over three dynasties. That’s something that feels impossible with Madden.

Recruiting and Rosters

I posed on another website some changes I would like to see if the game came out on this generation of console. One would be recruiting updates to tag new recruits for certain programs. High academic kids would be tagged for Stanford, Duke, Vanderbilt, and Northwestern. Dual threat, pro style and flexbone QB’s would be tagged to certain head coaches, too. An offensive coordinator also preferring a dual threat would give that program the edge on a dual threat QB.

Depth chart roster adjustments should be more accessible, too. If I’m coaching a 3-4 defense I shouldn’t have to manipulate the difference between defensive ends, defensive tackles- because there isn’t a nose tackle. In a 4-2-5 I should be able to set the mike and will linebackers on the inside from the depth chart. That’s kind of a picky thing but it’s important for making the schemes feel more realistic.

I liked the “experience points” feature for coaches and think that should stay, even if it’s adapted. I think it made recruiting more realistic as it was more difficult to build up my program at Colorado than in earlier games where I could take a bad UCF team, finish 11-0 and recruit the best class. I think creating a head coach could add many more features like recruiting style, coaching style, picking a pipeline state for the coach (and the school would have one built in, too), and of course their schemes of choice.

Something else fun would be selecting between speed, power, football skills, and injury resistance in your off-season program. Consider loading up on speed at Oregon over the summer when players go into development but you’re more susceptible to being ran over by Stanford’s three tight end sets.

Scheme

Of course the most important part of the game is gameplay. Is the game playable for years and is it fun? I think NCAA Football 14’s greatest attribute was how much fun it was to play. A lot of that fun, for me, came in playing in spread option offenses and using Air Raid passing concepts. There’s nothing like creating your own playbook. One adjustment I would love to see is the ability to create your own formations, plays and entire playbook. Here is how I would break down creating an offense and defense playbook in the video game:

Offense

Almost like making your own pizza, why can’t I choose a formation from a pre-set list, and then the concept I want to run. Ie. for whatever reason it’s really hard to find a dart option play that isn’t a triple option. How about I click on a 1 back shotgun play with a winged h-back and then press dart off a concepts screen? I can then set that into my playbook under my running concepts. I want the ability to pick during the play whether I want to hit Deejay Dallas in the flat or throw back to Jeff Thomas on a tunnel in the same play.

In the passing game, how about if I can select a screen pass that’s done the way I want. I love the double screen (GIF above) and would like to build that into the game. I would select a preset formation and then determine what the routes are. For double screen I would also add in what the offensive line is doing. The aspects of each play are pre-determined but I have the ability to work with the ingredients. For me that’s more fun than having to tag hot routes on every play or not have concepts at all.

Run-pass options would be a nice addition, even if they’re just pre-snap reads where we can choose run or pass by how the defense is lining up without having to call an audible (which has always caused them to shift into a favorable formation for the defense).

Defense

On defense this might be a really picky thing to get stuck on but I always felt I should be able to pick a base formation, and then call what the defensive line and coverage would do separately from one play. In other words, let me click 4-3 Over, then click “Base” and then press a coverage button for 2, 3, 4, 6, man 1 or man 0. That way my front 7 isn’t always married to my back 7. One play stands out which is that cover 2 always came with a nose-tackle twist which makes no sense.


Room for growth

I think creating a game with room for growth would be ideal for users, but I can see how the developers would just see that as a reason for fans to not purchase a new copy each season. What I mean by growth is the ability to expand the playoff, change conferences for teams, add new teams, and even build new stadiums and upgrade facilities. If UNLV is about to play in the new dome for the soon-to-be Las Vegas Raiders I should have the feature of upgrading their stadium now and that should give UNLV a recruiting bonus.

This would help keep the game fresh and keep players coming back. However, it might slow sales of the new game every year. If I can upgrade the facilities at Tulane maybe I can push them into the Big 12? It would be fun to have a conference realignment invitation based on growth and growth of your program would be based on wins and losses.

For the Hurricanes the new IPF should be a massive upgrade in recruiting. Maybe you could convince the school to build a new stadium on campus and really piss off the Coral Gables residents because of traffic and noise. That would be a blast.


Summary

I hope that the NCAA, EA Sports, and the conferences and schools are out there listening. College football is a beautiful form of the game we Americans seem to love to watch. Give us back our NCAA Football game. Playing with the Hurricanes and building them back to greatness would be a lot of fun with myself at offensive coordinator- I don’t want the stress that comes with being head coach.

Like every other off-season; this summer I’ll put out my “who would be impact players” list and talk about player ratings in a hypothetical game. Yet I might be covering roster releases for a new game in the near future. EA, I’m ready, let me load up the backfield with Dallas, Lorenzo Lingard and Cam’ron Harris. Please.