Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Five Rejected Additions to NCAA '12

The NFL is locked out, there's really not much going on in the world of football. Every day there's a back and forth of "A deal is close!" and "The 2011 Season is screwed!" so we're not even going to get into that.

Unless of course you count what they call "football" internationally.

Then we could talk about the US Women's National Team and their brilliant come-from-behind victory over Brazil

Go America.

In other football-related news, NCAA Football '12 comes out today. If you're a college football fan, or a video game fan, you've probably played some version of the NCAA franchise in the past. EA has added some cool features over the past few seasons, but there are also some aspects of the collegiate game that EA has conveniently left out that would have made the game even better.

1. Recruiting Violations

Let's be honest. When you're playing in dynasty mode, going through offseason recruitment can get boring and repetitive. So why not give yourself a recruiting budget instead of a set amount of "time" per week to talk to recruits. The budget could be spent either by purchasing cell phone minutes to call recruits or paying for print materials to send information to recruits via snail mail. Or, you could be like the Southern Conference schools of old and buy cars or other things for recruits. Heck, why not just be like SMU and give recruits a big stack of cash? You could also prevent current students from leaving early for the NFL or transferring to another school by upping the ante with things like cars or off campus jobs.

Seriously, how much fun would it be to be able to commit recruiting violations? It would enable you to get a leg up on stacking your roster with 5-star prospects. To make it more realistic, if your team competes in BCS games, they'll receive a lesser penalty from the NCAA for your violations than if they were just some shmuck team. Also, if your school's name starts with "Texas" or "Oklahoma", you won't get penalized for anything you do. Getting caught by the NCAA would effect your Coaching Prestige rankings, regardless of if you move on to a different coaching gig or not and the Program Prestige rankings for the school.

2. Player discipline/Academics

In some of the older versions of the game (back in the mid-2000s), if you recruiting players with bad discipline ratings, they would commit football-related offenses like skipping practice or something. EA should make this feature more realistic, like "3 of your players robbed a convenience store in their game jerseys" or "half of your team sold memorabilia for tattoos." As with recruiting violations, your school will likely see a stiffer punishment for this if you're a MAC school than if you're an SEC school. That's just how the NCAA is. Deal with it.

In addition to player discipline rankings, recruits would have an academic rating. Players with lower academic ratings would be more likely to start failing their classes halfway through the season. In this case, you'd have the option to send them to tutoring, suspend them until their grades come up, or have other people take their tests for them.

3. School Budgets

Coaches would be put in greater control of their school's football budgets. Teams would add revenue by being more competitive in their league and playing in bowl games. Mid-major schools could also add revenue by stacking their non-conference schedule with big school opponents. No one likes to lose on a video game, but wouldn't it be worth getting slaughtered by some big conference schools one year to boost your recruiting budget for the next season? As a major conference school, you'll have to pay out of your budget if you want to bring in chump schools to beat the snot out of in non-conference play. Of course, you can also blow your budget on committing recruiting violations, land 5-star prospects, make BCS games, then take the money you get from that and commit more violations. Gee, I can't think of any school that has done that....

4. Publicity Ratings

In past NCAA games, there has been the "magazine" feature, but it doesn't really do anything for your school if you make the cover or are featured in a "story." Additionally, the amount of games that are the "Game of the Week" (rated both before and after the week -- before the week based on expected matchup as it is now and after the week based on the "Greatness Score"). This way, even if you're featured in the "Game of the Week" often, if you blow out your opponents consistently, you won't have many games that rate highly on the "Greatness" scale, giving teams that play competitive games an edge in this respect.

5. Playoff Mode

Yeah, an NCAA game probably isn't going to add this, but it would be a cool feature to offer in Dynasty Mode. You could either have "Traditional BCS" mode, "11 Team Playoff" mode (where only the champions of the 11 conferences would make the Playoff), and "8 Team Playoff" mode (where the 6 Automatic Qualifier conferences plus 2 "At Large" schools make the Playoff). Come on, you know this would be cool.

Of course, none of these changes were actually added to the game. The best feature they did add was customizable conferences where you can add or subtract teams from any conference, which is cool because it will allow you to move teams around conferences as they switch in real life.  The addition of the 'coaching carousel" is a nice feature as well, if you want to play enough seasons in dynasty mode to start off as a lowly coordinator and build your way up. On the whole, it looks like NCAA 12 is a pretty solid game, but if you bought NCAA 11 last year, there aren't a ton of new features that make playing $60 for this version worthwhile. Unless of course you really want to be able to build your way up from through the coaching ranks or make your own custom conferences.

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