South Alabama joins the FBS ranks this year as a transitional team. South Alabama will play a full 13 game FBS schedule this upcoming season (extra game thanks to playing Hawaii at the end of the year), including a full eight-game conference slate against Sun Belt opponents. However, the Jaguars will not be eligible for post season play or conference titles until 2013. Regardless, South Alabama wins and losses still count towards FBS records for the teams they play.
They are joined by three other programs new to FBS football in 2012 in UTSA, UMASS, and Texas State. UTSA is still technically considered FCS transitional, but is entering the WAC this year (and will be moving to Conference USA in 2013). UTSA is not eligible for a conference title or postseason play until 2014. Texas State is also entering the WAC this year, and will join the Sun Belt Conference in 2013.
Why then, or rather how, could South Alabama have possibly been left off of NCAA 2013? What possible reason could EA have? Myself, and several others, have sent correspondence to various individuals employed by EA (myself, to at least 6 different individuals). So far, I have received only one response, which follows:
Hi . . . ,
I received your inquiry regarding South Alabama and NCAA Football 13.
South Alabama was a provisional member of FBS last year and did not play a full FBS schedule. We did not receive confirmation that they were changing to a full FBS schedule this year until it was too late for inclusion in NCAA Football 13. South Alabama will be included in NCAA Football 14.
Please let me know if you have any questions.
Julie Foster | Communications Manager – EA SPORTS
In what world does this make any sense? “Did not receive confirmation”? “Too late for inclusion”? South Alabama was the earliest of any of the 4 programs new to FBS this year to announce its FBS intentions . . . . . . . . . in 2009.
A simple two-minute Google search could have found any of a litany of sources explaining that there were 124 FBS teams this year, not 123, or that South Alabama was playing a full FBS schedule in 2012. Seriously, simply Google “FBS teams in 2012.” Are Yahoo Sports and Sports Illustrated not solid enough sources for EA? Does EA not know how to complete basic research? EA’s incompetence is astounding in this instance. And then, to try to simply write it off with a ridiculous attempt at an excuse for the exclusion? Is this how EA does business? Does EA not have a responsibility to complete a minimum level of due diligence to ensure that their product is accurate?
Who exactly will South Alabama’s 2012 opponents - Mississippi St. or NC State or any of the Sun Belt programs - be playing on the schedule in this year’s game then? FBS South?? How could EA possibly overlook the fact that South Alabama is listed on 11 different FBS teams’ schedules for 2012?? I don’t know many FCS programs that play 11 FBS teams (12 if you count UTSA) during the course of a season - do you?
How is it that any of the other new programs can be included in the game, whilst omitting South Alabama? This should’ve clearly been an all-or-none deal. If any one of those 4 programs was to be included in the game, ALL FOUR should have been.
How is this fair to the University of South Alabama? How can EA possibly justify leaving a FBS team out of the NCAA Football video game? Are they not obligated by their exclusive contract with the NCAA to ensure that ALL FBS teams are represented? Can they just pick and choose who they want to include? What if it had been the U. of Alabama left out? Or the U. of Southern California? Or the U. of Oklahoma? Think that would’ve been excusable and accepted?
U.S.A. (as the school is also called) is in a unique position in that it has only had a football program for three years. The program was established in 2007, and played its first game in 2009. Consequently, the program has had to work hard to get its message and commitment out there regarding the move to FBS. Building a $10 million practice facility was a start. Starting out the program with a 19-0 record was another. But the program continues to have to consistently work hard towards obtaining its sense of legitimacy from the outside.
This exclusion amounts to a slap to the face and non-recognition of those efforts. Don’t think for a second that other similarly situated programs won’t use this to their possible advantage. This game’s biggest audience are the very individuals that college programs try to recruit, high-school athletes.
There should absolutely be some level of restitution from EA that South Alabama can obtain. And that they should be able to obtain. Whether it’s an online download shortly after the game’s release to include South Alabama in the game or other recourse, actions need to be taken to rectify this omission.
The university officials, after being made aware of the omission (not even by EA, but by the South Alabama community), have begun contact with EA. Any possible relief that can be given to U.S.A. needs to be provided to ensure that EA is held accountable for their misrepresentation and frankly, poor business practice.