If you've ever played EA Sports' NCAA Football franchise and thought to yourself, "Man, this isn't recruiting very realistic," don't worry. Help is on the way.
As Mike Casazza of the Charleston (W.Va.) Daily Mail details, EA Sports is aware of your frustrations and reached out to West Virginia director of football operations Alex Hammond and coordinator of recruiting operations Ryan Dorchester to help bring an element of realism to the game's recruiting features.
EA Sports often consults with coaches to work on scheme and break down film, but this was the first time in the games near two-decade history that the franchise had reached out for recruiting help. "It got a little stale, a little old, and we thought it was time to give it a new feel and a fresh look. We wanted to go out and take advantage of the opportunities we have," said EA Sports producer Ben Haumiller.
That sounds great, but why West Virginia?
"What West Virginia has to do on the recruiting front is a microcosm of college football recruiting in general," Hammond said. "We deal with issues that maybe some schools don't have to deal with as much as we do. Some schools draw a border around their state and say, 'That's it.' Some schools don't recruit junior colleges. We have to recruit a little more nationally and we have to look at junior colleges."
Hammond and Dorchester were flown down to EA Sports' Orlando-area studios in July, and the pair outlined steps they thought could improve the game.
"It wasn't necessarily how you recruit a kid," Dorchester said. "That's hard. I don't know how you can really replicate that in a video game. A lot of it was saying, 'Here are some things that we feel aren't necessarily realistic in the video game and here's how those things happen in real life.' Understanding it can't exactly be simulated in a video game, we just wanted to give them an idea of what it was like on this side of the table."
In particular, look for added emphasis to academics, coaching changes and the results of a team's current season to spice up recruiting when the NCAA Football 14 hits shelves this summer. Additionally, Hammond and Dorchester noted the game previously lacked de-commitments and underscores the immediate impact of junior college recruits.
In addition to improving the game's recruiting, Hammond and Dorchester's efforts will also boost the West Virginia's own recruiting efforts. The game will acknowledge the help of the WVU staff, and the Mountaineers plan to make that fact known to their real-life recruits.
"What's exciting to me is that WVU and what we're doing has a place on the national radar," Hammond said. "There could have been plenty of colleges they wanted to talk to and they talked to us."
Read Casazza's full report here.