July 9th, 2013 – It was a normal July day. Just days before Joey Chestnut had scarfed down 69 hot dogs to take home his seventh-consecutive mustard belt, Andy Murray won Wimbledon in dramatic fashion at his home venue against Novak Djokovic, college football media days were in full swing, and the MLB All-Star weekend was just around the corner. Yet, the only thing on any sports fan’s mind was the most important preseason teaser in all of sports: EA Sports’ NCAA Football 2014 Launch Day.
Little did we know that this would be the last grand reveal of one of the most treasured sports video games in existence. Seven years later NCAA 14 has become that of folklore. Each July since the EA Sports had to shut down its NCAA Football franchise, fans and gamers around the world mourn and reminisce about the golden days when you could turn Eastern Michigan into a dynasty that would make even the likes of Bear Bryant and Knute Rockne envious. And during this pandemic there were surges on aftermarket sites like eBay where those same fans bought PS3s and old copies of NCAA 14 for outrageous prices, just to have a little good old fashioned fun while the world changed around us.
But unfortunately, as we sweat through mid-July once again, there’s that sudden and inexplicable pang in our hearts and feeling of an emptiness that can never be filled again. We scramble through our minds trying to figure out which ex-high school lover is making us feel this way again before we realize it’s something much much worse: It’s the realization that NCAA Football is dead. And it will be (maybe) forever.
Except that’s not entirely true. While you have been moping and feeling sorry for yourself each summer, there have been heroes out there putting in work. Through the void, the folks over at Operation Sports are an incredible but near-silent few recognized that Electronic Arts have kept the NCAA 14 servers live all this time. What does that mean? It means that anyone playing NCAA 14 with an internet connection can upload and download customized rosters. So, the team at Operation Sports realized that they could essentially recreate the fabled NCAA Football Video Game each and every year. And that’s exactly what they have done.
Each year the team at Operation Sports go through and meticulously update the entire NCAA 14 rosters to reflect the rosters of today. They spend countless, unpaid hours poring through spring practice reports, depth charts, game film, high school film, and recruiting camp results to make the most accurate and up-to-date rosters available. One of the team leaders on the project, BossHawgMichigan, has a great explainer if you’re interested in learning more about their methodology.
And with the release of Louisville’s post-spring depth chart a few weeks ago that meant only one thing to me: Louisville’s NCAA 14 roster was about to be updated for the 2020-21 season.
And so it was.
It is my greatest pleasure to introduce you all to the 2020 Virtual Louisville Cardinals.
With most analytics projecting Louisville as a top-15 offense you’d think the offense would easily be in the 90s, but it’s a solid rating no less. However, the real shock comes from the defense’s rating being almost equal to the offense. Not really sure how to explain that one other than that perhaps they think very highly of the two-deep, particularly the starters, and that the depth beyond the second string isn’t highly accounted for in overall ratings.
Out of high school Micale Cunningham ran a 4.87 40-yard dash, and for some reason that seems awfully slow from what we’ve seen on the field. However, he received a pretty solid acceleration rating which may be what the Operation Sports team has noticed when it comes to his ability to scramble. As for Conley’s low awareness rating, usually this is based on the amount of time a player has had and the grade they are in school.
Biggest thing I’m upset about when it comes to the running back ratings is the J-Hawk’s break tackle rating is so low. Considering the man ran for over 1500 yards while getting hit at or behind the line on almost every single carry, his rating has to be much higher than 74.
Tutu Atwell receiving a speed rating of 93 when he’s the fastest person on the planet seems like a snub. Put his rating somewhere in the 400s and I can get on board. Also, Jordan Watkins’ break tackle rating is mean.
Marshon Ford has some excellent receiving ratings for a TE in this game.
Luke Kandra with a 72 overall rating fresh out of high school? Pretty sure that’d get Satterfield a hidden gem award in dynasty mode.
Apparently Malik Clark needs to get on the field ASAP.
Linebacking corps looks solid even without the latest addition of K.J. Cloyd.
Greedy Vance has a cool name.
Ryan Chalifoux throw power and accuracy ratings are flat out disgusting. The man has a career 488.8 QBR, 100% completion rate, a 100% touchdown-per-pass-attempt average, and 0 interceptions. So much disrespect.
Tutu Atwell = Devin Hester.
Starter and former 5-Star long snapper Mitch Hall getting snubbed from the game breaks my heart for him. It ain’t right.
And there you have it! The most accurate player evaluations in history. Surely you all won’t disagree with any of this.