As we are all well-aware by now, the B1G has cancelled all fall sports for 2020, meaning football is just a memory for another year plus. Or is it?! We here at Off Tackle Empire are a stubborn bunch and we don’t let something like a ravaging global pandemic get in the way of a good time. Unless that good time also occurs in real life, in which case we wear masks, maintain social distancing, or just cancel the good time all together because “something else came up” even though we all know “something else” is just eating ice cream on the couch in sweatpants.
But how? How can you possibly replace the greatest fall Saturday tradition in the land? Well, as you might guess from the article picture and it being the only possible explanation for this, we are turning to the pinnacle of college football simulation technology: a video game from 7 years ago on a console from 15 years ago. That’s right, OTE is proud to present the 2020 B1G season brought to you by NCAA Football ‘14 on Xbox 360!
The preparation for this is in its early stages and we will be ironing out the finer details as we work through the logistics of making this possible, but based on what we have already prepared up to now, here’s a look at what is to come:
To accomplish this, we will begin with roster construction to retool your teams with the players they actually have at their disposal. 2014 was a long time ago, after all. Remember Brady Hoke? Fortunately, there are absolute saints on this here internet that still make updated rosters to this day. That said, we like to think we know our teams just a little bit better, so over the next couple weeks (as it stands today) you can expect the following:
- Team-specific articles unveiling the first draft of that team’s depth chart- We’ll show how the depth chart from the download looks and talk about what we intend to pencil in as changes to said chart. Depending on availability, this will either be handled by the “writers” for your team, a sister SBN site, or published with little/no advanced input and open to peer review in the comments.
- Conference Review- Breaking down each individual team is nice, but does the conference look “right” when we zoom out? Did individual rating adjustments result in making Rocky Lombardi better than Tanner Morgan? Is Illinois now the most talented team in the conference? We look for any adjustments needed with more of a pecking order focus here.
- Game Action- Once the roster and schedules are good to go, we’ll be ready to start the season! While we reserve the right to be humans with families and/or jobs getting in the way, it is our intention to start Week 1 action on Labor Day Weekend, just like the real Week 1 should have been. Each game will have a dedicated kickoff time for its broadcast on our YouTube channel and we’ll post game threads here like usual. Replays will also be available on YouTube and Facebook if you can’t make the game. Your team will play its original season game on its intended weekend throughout the entire fall/winter.
We will iron out some more specifics as we prepare for the season, but here’s what we know already:
- We are playing the full, original season schedules as they existed before COVID, so your 10th B1G game is gone and your out-of-conference games are back and in order. (Caveat: If you scheduled an opponent so shitty that they don’t exist in this game and do not happen to be on the updated rosters, we will get creative in finding you a replacement of similar quality.) (Caveat #2: We’re like 96% sure we can pull this one off.)
- If you had a player opt to leave the team due to coronavirus concerns and prepare for the draft, they’re back baby! Rashod Bateman, Rondale Moore, Micah Parsons, half the Maryland team, and more will be returning to game action this fall. And any player that contracted the disease, like Indiana OL Brady Feeney, will automatically be considered healthy and ready for Week 1, because COVID can go kick rocks.
- COLOR. RUSH. Every game possible will be played in all home uniforms. Of course, this conference is like half red so there will be a number of exceptions, but we’re using the good stuff.
- This is real, dammit. I mean obviously this is a video game, but the real thing is good and gone so this is the best we have, and therefore these games are legitimate. No crying “oh that would have never happened in real life!” This is the best we have, so Sitkowski did indeed just do that.
- We could not care less about the teams/conferences outside the B1G. This is a big enough undertaking as it is with just one conference, we’re not going to bother checking on if UCLA looks accurate. Maybe a cursory look at OOC opponents to make sure you’re not a big favorite/dog in a game you shouldn’t be, but all the effort is going into the B1G and the other conferences will likely do weird(er) things as a result. C’est la vie.
The following are things we intend to do but reserve the right to scale down/scrap if lacking the resources or deemed not humanly possible to try to put them together:
Production- We intend to enhance the gameday experience with production around the game, possibilities including pre-/post-game analysts, play-by-play commentary, halftime “interviews,” and our typical OTE game threads. Ideally this can happen for every game, and as we learn more about how to accomplish this and what resources are needed we may go forward with that or scale down the number of production add-ons and/or number of games this applies to as needed.
Schedule- Especially with Weeks 1-2 offering 11-14 games, it may not be feasible to run every game on Saturday in a given week. As we figure out the best way to broadcast our games, we may also have games air on Friday evenings and even Thursday evenings to balance everything out.
Game Length- Gamers know that having true 15 minute quarters will result in hilariously impossible box scores, while 5 minute quarters are quite short and prone to illogical upsets. We haven’t honed in on exact game length, but expect 8-10 minute quarters.
Neutral Site- Wisconsin vs. Notre Dame was to be played at Lambeau Field. We’re not yet sure if custom schedules allow for neutral games, but if not, technically Notre Dame is the home team and should host. Why they are home for the Lambeau game I don’t know, but they are. Sorry, Badgers.
In-Season Articles- We hope that some of our traditional in-season content translates well to this “season” even though the live season is gone. As we start living in this weird world we’re creating we’ll adjust content accordingly.
So there you have it! You may call us crazy, you may call us stupid...end of list. Let’s play some football!
Questions? Comments? Ideas? Leave ‘em in the comment section.
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