Apr 13, 2013; Columbia, SC, USA; South Carolina Gamecocks defensive end Jadeveon Clowney (7) signs a autograph for fan during the spring game at Williams-Brice Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Curtis Wilson-USA TODAY Sports

NCAA 14 Player Rankings Meet The NCAA Antitrust Case

EA Sports is ramping up marketing for its NCAA Football 14 title, set for release on July 9. Kevin Sumlin discussed the game’s updated recruiting features on the CBS Sports Eye on College Football podcast last week, and on Tuesday, EA released the skill rankings for its top 15 players.

The top rated player overall is South Carolina Gamecocks DE #2.

What’s that, you say? South Carolina DE #2 is in fact Jadeveon Clowney?
I can see why one would make such a mistake. After all, DE #2 wears the same number and plays the same position as South Carolina’s All-American. They share other similarities, such right down to their size, complexion and distinctive long hair.

But make no mistake: South Carolina DE #2 is not Jadeveon Clowney – just as Oregon HB #6 is not, in fact, running back De’Anthony Thomas despite their uncanny shared skill sets.

No, websites listing the below top 15 rated players in NCAA 14 are making an understandable error. Surely the NCAA could not allow a video game publisher to capitalize on the likeness of its student-athletes without remuneration; student-athletes like:

1. Jadeveon Clowney
2. Johnny Manziel
3. De’Anthony Thomas
4. A.J. McCarron
5. Marqise Lee
6. C.J. Mosley
7. Braxton Miller
8. Teddy Bridgewater
9. Jake Matthews
10. Aaron Murray
11. Taylor Lewan
12. Tajh Boyd
13. Sammy Watkins
14. Denicos Allen
15. Ka’Deem Carey

Who am I kidding? The names might be missing, but the avatars are the players’ likeness. This is one of the major arguments behind the former UCLA Bruins basketball star Ed O’Bannon-led class action suit against the NCAA.

The antitrust case comes to a pivotal crossroads on June 20, coinciding with the marketing blitz of NCAA 14.

EA can and does toe a fine line of what the NCAA deems acceptable. It’s what the company must do in order to stay relevant. Sure, a publisher with an NCAA license can publish a video game, wherein the pixilated representatives of each university are completely generic.

Eevery title to go the generic player route, whether for basketball or football, failed. Barring a Capcom-produced NCAA football game wherein E. Honda plays offensive line, Dhalsim wide receiver and Blanka outside linebacker, the only college football title gamers will buy is one with actual players — or reasonable facsimiles.

The NCAA series flourished for two decades because it captured real players’ likeness without breaking NCAA rules.

And EA isn’t to blame. Electronic Arts must offer the video game consumer a product he/she wants, and the college football gamer wants the genuine article.

It’s a booming business too, as thousands of gamers shell out the $60 every summer for updates.

So why not tear down the silly facade? Let EA publish a video game wherein Jadeveon Clowney, not DE #2, is its top rated player, and let the players driving the market receive some of the residuals?

If the O’Bannon group wins its decision, the NCAA might have to or the lucrative college football video game business shuts down.

Tags: Football South Carolina Gamecocks UCLA Bruins

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