EA Sports NCAA College Football:  What We Know About the Return of this Beloved Franchise.

Updated: July 2023

Updated: December 30, 2024

Hard to believe that this summer will be ten years since we have seen a new version of the popular college sports video game, EA’s NCAA College Football.  In fact, the last version released, if you can find it, was on July 9, 2013.  The cover featured University of Michigan’s Denard Robinson, who is now the Assistant Director of Player Personnel for Michigan’s football team. 

Sadly, the video game franchise came to a screeching halt after a law suit was filed by UCLA basketball player Ed O’Bannon in 2009. O’Bannon alleged that appearances in college basketball video games used the likeness of historical players without consent.  To make matters worse, another lawsuit was filed by former Arizona State and Nebraska QB Sam Keller alleging the same thing, using characters in the NCAA Football game that resembled real life players without getting permission.  Eventually, both filings were combined into one class action lawsuit against the NCAA, CLC, and Electronic Arts.  In 2013, the plaintiffs won and received a $60 million settlement from EA and CLC, but the damage was done and unfortunately for college football fans, the NCAA College Football franchise was cancelled. 

NCAA Football 14 Cover

Fast forward to February 2, 2022, EA Sports surprisingly tweeted out that college football is coming back as the company will be resurrecting the franchise.  This time, however, EA will be working with players, coaches, and universities so that all parties are compensated accordingly.  

Even though we are still one year away from release, there is a lot of information we don’t know or has yet to be confirmed. What we do know, however, is that the Road to Glory and Dynasty modes will be returning, according to ESPN.

In addition to that, there are 120 schools that have been committed to being in the game, with the latest being Wisconsin, Northwestern, TCU, Fresno State, Tulane, and Florida.  The ultimate goal, according to EA, is to have every FBS school in the game, which is a good thing.

Other updates are listed below (I’ll add to the list when they become available):

  • The game will have all 10 FBS Conferences as well as the College Football Playoff series
  • Mascots will play a big part and will be in the game as well as school traditions, stadiums, fields, etc. (No word on 2013’s version of Mascot mode, which was a fan favorite.)
  • Throwback uniforms and helmets are expected to be in the game.
  • No word on announcers, but there are reports that Kirk Herbstreit wants to reprise his involvement with the franchise.
  • The game will be developed using the Frostbite engine, which is the same engine used for the Madden series and will be developed by Electronic Arts’ Orlando studio and EA Tiburon, who also develops the Madden franchise.
  • Imports from NCAA to Madden is unknown, but would be a good feature to have as this option was available in previous iterations.
  • No word on coaches or likeness of head football coaches.
  • Unknown who or what the cover will be.
  • Still expected to be released in the summer of 2024, but no official date is known.
  • Players will be able to opt in for character likeness
My Collection of NCAA Football Games

Good things come to those wait, as I am often told, and hopefully next summer our patience will finally pay off!  I am really looking forward to this game as I have been playing it since the Xbox days with NCAA Football 2005. In the meantime, though, I’ll just keep playing NCAA 14 until next summer gets here! After all, we waited a whole decade just to have a glimmer of hope that this game would make it’s return, so waiting one more year won’t be that bad.

Update: July 20, 2023

Per CBS Sports, EA Sports has hit a snag with another lawsuit. EA Sports is being sued over the likeness, image, and name negotiations with athletes. CBS Sports is reporting that the crux of the argument by The Brandr Group is about the following:

The Brandr Group is arguing that it should still be allowed to negotiate any contracts or deals for athletes at the schools it represents. It also made the claim that EA Sports’ decision to offer the ability to opt into a deal that does not include The Brandr Group is “tortious interference.” 

“EA places TBG’s Partner Schools in the unenviable position of either breaching their contracts with TBG or potentially losing the opportunity for themselves and their athletes to participate in the game,” the lawsuit reads. “EA’s tactics will also cause irreparable harm to TBG’s Client Athletes, and to every student-athlete who opts-in to their scheme for unfair compensation, because they are being deprived of the opportunity to have their own representative negotiate on their behalves for fair compensation for the use of their NIL.”

Update: December 30, 2023

Per On3 Media, EA Sports confirmed that the game is on track for release in the summer of 2024 and that the Brandr Group and OneTeam Partners had reached an agreement on the lawsuit.

Per EA Sports Spokesperson, “We are pleased that BrandR has decided to withdraw their claims without any payment from EA. We’ve been clear from the beginning that this suit had no merit. Our focus continues to be on directly licensing individual college athlete name and likeness rights through an opt-in program that will give college athletes the choice if they want to be in our game. We’re pleased to move on from these claims and look forward to delivering EA SPORTS College Football in Summer 2024.”

Source: https://www.on3.com/nil/news/brandr-group-oneteam-resolve-dispute-over-ea-sports-college-football-game-nil-group-licensing/

Sources: ESPN | The Sporting News | Gators Online | Saturday Blitz | 247 Sports | On3.com

Update Source: CBS Sports