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Could rule changes bring back one of the greatest football video games?

(Photo by: Education Images/UIG via Getty Images)

The NCAA is considering a rule change that could make gamers incredibly happy. On Tuesday evening, Bleacher Report tweeted something that sent shockwaves through the gaming community.

I’d be happy for the college athletes if/when this happens. But as a lifelong gamer, the first thing I thought about was getting one of the greatest football video games back.

“NCAA Football 14” was the last college football video game ever made, so football gamers are going on nearly six years since the last time they experienced anything but playing NFL football on “Madden.”

Just to give you an idea of how long ago that was, “NCAA Football 14” was released on the XBox 360 and the Playstation 3. Both consoles are long dead. The XBox One and PS4 now rule the market – with even newer versions of those consoles set to be released in the next year or so.

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What Happened?

It all started with former UCLA basketball star Ed O’Bannon. After noticing EA Sports and the NCAA were using his likeness, jersey number and measurements/stats in video games that he received no compensation for, O’Bannon filed an antitrust class action lawsuit against the NCAA.

The NCAA had a long-standing practice of banning athletes from being paid for such usage. In 2009, a judge ruled that was a violation of antitrust laws. EA Sports and the College Licensing Company, originally co-defendants with the NCAA, left the case before the judgement was handed down.

That was part of a $40 million settlement paid out to current and former collegiate athletes who had their likeness appear in an EA Sports football or basketball game dating all the way to the year 2003. It was a win for those college athletes, but it was a loss for the gaming community.

Since that ruling, no college sports games have been released.

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What Makes it So Great?

“NCAA College Football” was one of the best football games ever made. It’s almost up there with the best football game of all time (“NFL2K5”) in my opinion, and it was put out before the “Madden” engine EA runs it on got stale.

Things weren’t too complex in the gameplay and the graphics still stand up to today’s standards.

Perhaps the best thing about the game was the “feel” of the game. It didn’t feel like an NFL game they made for college football. It had the atmosphere of a college football game with the mascots, the marching bands and the fans.

It was incredibly for me because of the option offense.

I grew up in the ’90s, so I loved playing “NCAA College Football,” using the Colorado Buffaloes and running the option. Sure, it wasn’t Eric Bieniemy or Mike Pritchard out there running the rock, but it was the Buffs (with Ralphie near the end zone) and it was fantastic.

An option-based playbook just isn’t fully available in any of the pro games back then or even still to this day. The presentation, the way the game was called and that college atmosphere made “NCAA College Football” a truly different experience than playing “Madden.”

If you play on a PC, there is a way to mod “Madden” to feature 32 college football teams.

But this lacks the college playbooks, stadiums and atmosphere we long-time gamers are used to with “NCAA College Football.” However, you do get the look of college football with the jerseys, the helmets and the players.
This is okay (and much appreciated), but it is nothing compared to what a full game would be if officially licensed.

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What Now?

Patience is going to be needed. The NCAA finally has a group to look into the recent legislation proposed at the federal and state levels surrounding the name, image and likeness rights of student-athletes.

That means nothing is going to happen anytime soon.

It does help that this news item is getting a lot of coverage. College football fans and gamers have stormed to social networking to exclaim (and beg) their desire for the games to return.

Even ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit got in on the action.

It would be nice to see “NCAA College Football” (and basketball and baseball) return in the 2019 calendar year, but that’s impossible. Any game that large and involved needs to be in development for some time, meaning 2020 or 2021 at the earliest is the most likely release point – and that means those games would likely return on the new generation of consoles.

I just want “NCAA College Football” to return with Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence on the cover. That’s not too much to ask for, is it? I’ll get my thumbs ready in preparation for these games to return eventually, hopefully in the near future.

Do you miss these games? Would you be excited to see “NCAA College Football” returned to video game consoles? Let us know what you think on social networking.