July 16, 2009
Bearcats, Griffons get chance to fight it out on digital turf
Article by R.J. Cooper - St. Joseph News-Press
The race for Division II football supremacy kicked off on campuses across the country Tuesday.
Northwest Missouri State fans should be pleased to learn the national title is coming back to Maryville - at least in virtual form.
EA Sports launched its NCAA Football 10 video game Tuesday. And while the annual release date is always cause for celebration among gamers, this year's new Team Builder mode means the virtual world is no longer the exclusive playground of Division I schools.
Gamers now can log onto the EA Web site (teambuilder.easports.com), create their own school using downloaded logos, hundreds of uniform templates and any color combination imaginable. Small colleges, high schools, fictional teams from movies, politician mascots - the options are practically limitless. And less than 24 hours after NCAA 10's release, gamers had created every MIAA school.
Gamers also have the ability to edit rosters, so if a Bearcat fan wants to take quarterback Blake Bolles and company and challenge the 2009 Grand Valley State Lakers, it's as easy as two quick downloads onto their Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3.
"This is one of the best inventions ever in video games," said Northwest receiver Abe Qaoud, who took a break from beating Central Missouri to talk with the News-Press on Wednesday. "Everybody on the team is stoked, and everybody is playing it right now."
As of Wednesday afternoon, there were 15 different versions of Northwest to download online, a couple of which featured the Bearcats' actual roster. But Qaoud and 14 of his teammates were working nonstop on an "official" Northwest roster Wednesday and planned to have it available online by midnight.
"It should be as accurate as you can have it," said Qaoud, who also plans to create an All-Time Northwest team with such Bearcat greats as Xavier Omon, Seth Wand, Dave Tollefson, Chris Greisen and Jamaica Rector.
Qaoud promised he rated himself as accurately as possible but when pressed admitted the Bearcats might have given themselves a little boost after seeing the creator of the Grand Valley roster rated the Lakers at a 99 overall out of 100.
Qaoud and his teammates downloaded every MIAA team as well as Grand Valley, Abilene Christian and Valdosta State. They plan to create Northwest's 2009 schedule (even going so far as to set the Pittsburg State game at Arrowhead) and play out entire Division II seasons.
"I feel sorry for the Division I teams. I may never play with them again," Qaoud said. "Hopefully we will go undefeated in the video game like our goal is this year."
Missouri Western quarterback Drew Newhart buys EA's NCAA football game each year but had resigned himself to playing as football friends who went onto compete at the Division I level. But as of Wednesday, one can quarterback the Griffons with Newhart. Or if a Griffon fan is feeling a little nostalgic, someone created the 2006 playoff team for your gaming pleasure.
"It is pretty crazy," Newhart said Wednesday after finding out about the new feature. "After going Division II, you think now you will play with some of your friends you have at other schools who went Division I. Now seeing you can (play as D-II teams) is pretty insane."
Added Missouri Western coach Jerry Partridge: "The virtual-reality world has found Division II.
"It used to be when I was in college, guys would drink themselves ineligible. Now it's they play video games so much they don't go to class or go to bed," Partridge said.
But while Qaoud and his fellow teammates - in the real world and on the game - haven't taken many breaks from dominating Division II in the past couple of days, they did step away from the system Wednesday afternoon for some actual training.
"That's always going to be the No. 1 priority," Qaoud said.
But moments later, his mind drifted into a spot of limbo between the virtual and real worlds when pondering Northwest's four straight national title game losses.
"I haven't lost four in a row yet (on the video game)," he said. "So maybe I can rewrite history."
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