Summer of Sports: The future of NCAA Football

by: Sean Cahill -
Yesterday, the NCAA announced that they would not be renewing their partnership with EA Sports regarding college sports gaming.  While this move was long expected when the litigation over O'Bannon vs NCAA opened up several years ago, the timing is a bit curious since there has been no decision made by Federal Judge Claudia Wilkens as of yet.  However, this is not the end of the world for EA Sports regarding the NCAA Football franchise.  There have been some hints on Twitter and other social media outlets that EA Sports is going to attempt to press on without the NCAA's consent, which while that sounds rather insane, it actually isn't.  Remember:  The NCAA is just the governing body for the athletics at the collegiate level.  Other than that, they really don't have much of a say in anything.  They are just there to make sure teams aren't handing over suitcases full of cash to recruits to get them to come to their school, with the exception of the 70s and 80s when everyone was doing it and the NCAA didn't really seem to care until Southern Methodist.  So, how can EA Sports pull this off?  It's really a four-step process.

Step #1:  Individual School Contracts

Yes, this means that EA Sports has to sign over 100 schools individually.  Crazy, but not outside the realm of possibility.

Step #2:  Sign a deal with each conference

Why would they have to do this?  Simple:  Signing the teams is one thing, but you need to have an agreement still with the conference in order to use those names.  This, honestly, is easier than signing the schools because the conferences absolutely love money, especially extra revenue where they have to do absolutely nothing except sign on the dotted line.

Step #3:  Sign a deal with the BCS

You know what starts really soon?  A college football playoff.  While most people generally despise the BCS, I have grown to hate it less and less once I heard that we were at least getting some form of a playoff.  Signing with the BCS guarantees usage of the playoff system, as well as the bowl games that go along with it.

Step #4:  Sign a deal with ESPN

Here's a fun fact:  ESPN has the rights to every bowl game out there, save for two:  The Sun Bowl (CBS) and The Cotton Bowl (FOX Sports).  Every other game?  Yep, ESPN doesn't just have the broadcast rights.  They actually own the bowls.  This is honestly the easiest part of the process, as there is already a very good partnership with the folks at ESPN for EA Sports.

Completing all four of these steps makes it very possible to create a franchise that is just without the NCAA logo and name.  However, this is still going to be a challenge if O'Bannon v. NCAA doesn't go well for the NCAA and EA Sports.

Stay tuned.  This saga isn't even close to being over.
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