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Not So Fast My Friend: NCAA Football Can Survive

Last month’s announcement that the NCAA would not license the next installment of EA Sport’s NCAA Football series shook up the gaming world. EA went into damage control mode, stating that the nearly two-decade old franchise would still continue. Just as things were starting to die down, the SEC, college football’s dominant conference, has told ESPN it will not license it’s trademarks to EA after this season. 

In a cycle that we’ve come to expect, social media has killed off the franchise faster than it did Bill Cosby.

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As former ESPN analyst and former NCAA Football character Lee Corso would say, “not so fast, my friends.”  The game doesn’t have to die. EA already has the answer. It’s inside the current game, and has been for four years.

The Teambuilder feature, introduced in 2010 version of the game, gives the user endless options as far as teams. Create-A-Team modes have been a part of this game and others for years, but Teambuilder is by far the most comprehensive. The feature allows you to customize everything from the school colors, to the stadium to the playing style. It also allows you to upload your own logos, which is why the SEC’s image not being in the game isn’t as big of a deal as it seems. Simply put, any image you can Google and drag to your desktop can be featured in the game, on your jerseys and on the field.

Granted, many people won’t want to go through the hassle of creating all of these teams. They just want to play the game. That’s where gurus like Butcher Black of KonsoleKingz come in. Black has been creating the black college football teams for years, and replicates them with stunning accuracy. I’m sure there are many more Teambuilder gurus like Black that can pump out teams quickly without sacraficing authenticity.

I’ve tried my hand at it over the past month, and it’s been fun. I’ve created current teams as well as All-Time teams for several HBCUs, and to be honest, I’ve enjoyed it more than I enjoyed Madden last year. And that’s the thing with this franchise…It’s consumers may or may not be Madden fans. NCAA fans tend to be a little less trendy, dare we say nerdish? Coming up with innovate features around Teambuilder or expanding its scope past the FBS schools may be a good way for a streamlined version of the game to survive. The inclusion of HBCUs and FCS/Divsion II schools might not do the same numbers that previous versions have done, but it could be the start of something new.

The game can, and should go on. Ultimately it’s going to be up to the good folks at EA Sports to come up with an innovative way to sell the game. Hopefully they will find it worth salvaging, as many of us feel that it is.

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