Imagine a world where the college football offseason didn’t exist. Just one day after Nick Saban wins his umpteenth national championship, Eli Drinkwitz and the Missouri Tigers suit up for a friendly game with... well, whomever you choose! Tulane? Army? Maybe even Coastal Carolina?
Such a world is now within the realm of possibility. Last week, EA Sports announced the long-awaited return of its popular NCAA Football franchise, now billed as EA Sports College Football. It’s a win for college football fans everywhere, especially nerds like Nate Edwards who meticulously build rosters from the ground up and take every FBS team to national title glory.
In response to the news, we gathered some of our Rock M football staffers to both reminisce on our favorite memories of the old games and pitch some new features that we think would take things up a notch.
Last week, EA Sports (it’s in the game) announced they would be bringing back the much beloved college football franchise to its rotation. It’s a win for all of us who loved playing the game growing up, so tell us: What was your favorite memory of the EA NCAA Football games when they were last in circulation?
Josh Matejka, Deputy Manager: Brad. Smith. Option.
I don’t remember much about the NCAA Football games beyond the time Brad Smith was playing, mostly because that was my jam. It coincided with the time my Mizzou fandom was burgeoning, and there was nothing better than running up a 500+ total yard game behind number 16. I especially loved doing it to that one school to the west and the other one to the east.
Nate Edwards, Football Editor: I was/am still a Dynasty fiend. I would start my career as a coordinator at a G5 school somewhere and then purposefully go one rung up at a time in my career until I landed a big coordinating gig at an Alabama/Texas/USC/Notre Dame, then become a HC at a G5 until I earned the Missouri head coaching gig. I have (preposterously) taken every G5 in the game to the National Championship game; in fact, there are fewer teams left that I haven’t played than those that I have because I’m old and have played every iteration of the game. My most favorite Dynasty was recently taking Coastal Carolina all the way and then watching the IRL Chanticleers nearly go undefeated this past year.
Aaron Dryden, Staff Football Writer: I think that the my favorite memory would be using the dynasty mode, and being able to build up powerhouses from non-traditional places. Usually would start at Missouri, move to a lower level “job” and keep building. Dynasty mode, in my opinion, was one of the best features of the NCAA football series.
One of the benefits of video games is it allows fans to experience some of the ins and outs of a sport we’re mostly relegated to watching. If EA could introduce one part of the college football life that you don’t see too often, what would it be?
Josh Matejka, Deputy Manager: If we’re being honest, I don’t remember a ton about the recruiting aspect of the game, so I’m fascinated to see what they do with it. Recruiting almost plays a bigger role in college football than the actual football, and they’ll have to get with the times in the actual game. Maybe there’s a mechanic where you have to portion out official and unofficial visits. Get a little crazier, and you can spend a whole portion of the season in the week leading up to National Signing Day.
Want to hear the best idea, one they’ll never take me up on? Give players (coaches) the option of cheating. Seriously. Do it! It happens all the time in college football, and it obviously takes a good amount of effort to keep it under the table. Introduce a cheating mechanic that allows players to send backdoor messages or benefits. If you get caught, you get penalized. Maybe I’ll get pummeled for this take, but if we’re going for realism then why not be bold?
Nate Edwards, Football Editor: I could go on for pages on what I’d want to see but I’ll keep it simple because I can’t stop at just one but don’t want to bore you:
- Allow the ability to hire your own coaching staff (no contracts/buy outs, just hire and fire capabilities)
- Revamped recruiting: on/off campus visits; have coaches that have built relationships with high schools rather than entire states to narrow your ability to take jobs and the coaches you want to hire; Grayshirt/Blueshirt in addition to redshirt; TRANSFER PORTAL
- Prestige should effect who you can legitimately recruit (no 5-stars to Akron, c’mon) and you should be able to upgrade aspects of the program once certain prestige levels are hit i.e. new weight room at 2-star prestige, stadium additions at 4-star, etc.
- Cheating. Now that the game is no longer associated with the NCAA they can get away with this with (probably) no repercussions. Do you sink time and money in going to some 4-star kids games or just use your booster network to throw a sack of money at his parents or buy him a car? Press A to cheat your butt off, baby!
- Fully customizable conferences and Playoff bracket. Bring back the FCS.
I’ll stop there. Get in my DMs if you want more.
Aaron Dryden, Staff Football Writer: I think that the recruiting should be just as volatile as it is in real life. We should see a lot of decommitments, coaches that over-recruit and have to gray shirt certain players. Maybe introduce some sort of social media aspect, like a commitment video or two for big recruits that you sign. The closer they can update the recruiting part of the game to what traditionally happens now, the better the game will be.
Let’s imagine the game comes back not this year, but in 2022. Which Mizzou player are you most looking forward to playing as?
Josh Matejka, Deputy Manager: Assuming he’s as good as we think he might be, I don’t know how the answer isn’t Mookie Cooper. There’s a reason we use the term, “video game numbers,” and Cooper is the guy most poised to put them up in the coming years. I’m picturing sweeps that break for 60+ yards, third-down slants that turn into explosive plays, spinning and juking digital linebackers out of their shoes... the Mookie Cooper highlight reel will be glorious. Hopefully, it’s just as good in real life.
Nate Edwards, Football Editor: Tyler Macon. He’s quicker than Bazelak so you can do a lot more designed runs and he’s got some stank on the throwing arm. I’m not going to pretend he’s Madden Vick or NCAA Brad Smith but I think he’d be super fun to play with.
Aaron Dryden, Staff Football Writer: I love to mess around with offensive personnel in football games, so I’ll choose Connor Bazelak. He’d be solid in the pocket with a little bit of mobility. I’d expect him to have a solid overall by then too (85-90) and if they did the game similar to madden where there are traits you can have, I’m sure he’d have a few signature skills as well. Not to mention, the guy would have three years of eligibility left. Hard not to like.