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Belan: EA's college football news is exciting, but let's temper expectations

Fans of the NCAA Football video game franchise were given a new lifeline Monday, as EA Sports announced a new game would be released in the coming years.

The news has come as an unexpected yet entirely welcomed surprise. Most thought that EA would never make another college football game after the Ed O’Bannon lawsuit that sought compensation for using student athletes’ image and likeness. 

While the announcement of the project has brought loads of anticipation, there haven’t been a lot of details to come along with it. Here is what we know about the “EA Sports College Football” title:

Due to the NCAA’s policies on amateurism, preventing players from being compensated and leading to the end of the franchise in the first place, there cannot be real players included, but one would assume that the game would use the same roster share system that was in the last iteration. This would allow players to download rosters from other users, and with time there would be an entirely functioning real-life roster as long as the roster share feature remains in the game.

However, with the status of “amateurism” in college athletics ever-evolving, there is a possibility that state and federal legislatures could force the NCAA’s hand in allowing their athletes to be compensated on their image and likeness. In this case, EA Sports could potentially use real athletes’ names if the NCAA changed its rules. However, as those who follow EA Sports closely will note, there is no doubt that they will pass on that opportunity to ensure that they don’t have to pay the players included in the game.

As for teams in the game, EA Sports has partnered with collegiate licensing group CLC to ensure that over 100 colleges and universities will be in the game, all with authentic uniforms, playbooks, and traditions at the very least. It remains to be seen which teams will be in the game, the amount of schools, and whether there could possibly be a return of FCS teams that were included in the older versions of the game. It should be safe to say that this game, for the first time, should allow players to use rising programs like Appalachian State and Coastal Carolina for the first time since they’ve become FBS programs.

Other welcomed features of the game will be the implementation of the College Football Playoff, which came to be after the release of the last game in 2013. Updated uniforms, stadiums, logos, conferences, and programs will be highly anticipated, especially with the powerful graphics of PS5 and Xbox Series X. 

With that being said, it is important for fans to keep their expectations in check, as EA Sports has taken a devastating dip in quality since around the release of the last game. Many football fans and gamers hold NCAA Football 14 in high regard due to the fun gameplay and enjoyment of the game, two things that are nowhere to be found in the latest installments of EA Sports franchises like Madden and FIFA. 

The good news is that the game is early in development, and one can only hope that EA can get the game right. Regardless of the result of the game, it sure is nice to finally have talk of a new college football game in the year 2021. 

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