By William Qualkinbush.
By William Qualkinbush
Now that I am finished with school—for good, I promise—I am transitioning into full-fledged adulthood. This process has been underway since pretty much my first day in college, but now the time has officially come for me to shed the tomfoolery of my youth and become more serious about life.
For the most part.
There are a few times every year when I believe men (and women) have the license to act like kids. For my generation of sports fans, today is one of those days.
On the first or second Tuesday in July every year, EA Sports’ NCAA Football video game series releases its new edition. I have grown up playing video games and watched them evolve into a useful tool in helping me become a student of the game, whichever game it may be.
Explaining the value of today’s video games to my parents, or to others from the generations ahead of me, is virtually pointless. It is difficult to convey the realism with which the players move and react and interact with one another during gameplay in an attempt to accurately simulate real scenarios.
But I can tell you my understanding has grown tremendously due to the complexity and sophistication of today’s sports gaming experience. My broadcasting career started as an elementary school student muting legendary sportscaster Keith Jackson and doing play-by-play of my own games at home. In addition, the emphasis on the mental aspect of the game—calling plays, making adjustments on the fly, moving players before the snap—has made me more aware of nuances I might never have noticed.
My first “assignment” every year is to play with Clemson—against South Carolina, of course. Soon someone from the internet will compile a fairly accurate roster that matches up real names with positions and jersey numbers (shhhh, don’t tell Ed O’Bannon or the NCAA), which I will then kindly use to enhance my own gaming experience.
This game has also been a way for me to keep up with some of my best buddies from college as we have all moved on in our lives. For the past five years, I have been a part of an online dynasty within NCAA Football that has kept me in contact with them and allowed us to compete with one another and grow closer from afar due to a common bond.
Some of you may be saying, “All this…for a VIDEO GAME??” I know it sounds crazy, but this is a big day for me.
Now, for those of you who don’t quite get what all the fuss is about, here are some ratings for Clemson as a team and for individual players, straight from the developers at EA Sports:
–The Tigers are rated 93 overall, 95 on offense, and 90 on defense out of a possible 99 points. This is very high, tied with LSU, Notre Dame, Texas, and Virginia Tech for fourth-best on the game. For a comparison, Alabama is 99 across the board (YIKES) and Ohio State and Oregon are both 95 overall.
–Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins are both rated 95 overall. At quarterback, Boyd is ranked behind Johnny Manziel, A.J. McCarron, Braxton Miller, Teddy Bridgewater, and yes, Aaron Murray. Watkins is behind only Marquis Lee at receiver.
–The next highest rated player on Clemson’s roster is sophomore Travis Blanks at 89 overall, tied with Stephone Anthony and Charone Peake. It was nice to see a friend of mine ranked so highly. Plus, for dynasty players, at least two more years of a player this good is mind-boggling.
–Guess who the top-rated player in the game is? Jadaveon Clowney, the only one to garner a 99 overall rating.
For those of you who might label me a loser, a nerd, or a kid, I respond by owning all of those labels—at least for today. Tomorrow, I will report back with what it felt like to be a kid again for an afternoon.