NCAA Football 14 replaces Big East with American Athletic Conference
For better or for worse, there were plenty of changes in the college football landscape this year. The dreaded BCS was finally done away with (starting in 2014); teams moved conferences in attempt to earn themselves a better shot at the championship (or for money); and in some cases entire conferences were disbanded. UCF, my alma mater finally got into the Big East, just as the Big East collapsed. Needless to say, it's been quite frustrating for college football fans, and even more difficult to keep track of all the changes. Imagine how the developers of NCAA Football 14 feel...
I recently caught up with an EA representative who set the record straight with all of the conference changes that will go into effect in this year's NCAA Football game. The most notable being the removal of the Big East, as it is now basketball only. Well, technically the Big East is still in the game as the remaining members -- USF, UCONN, Cincinnati, Rutgers, and Louisville -- are joined by newcomers Temple, Houston, SMU, Memphis and UCF. Things will change for the conference, once again, next year, but for now this is the make-up. However, the conference will now be known as the American Athletic Conference, and its new name will be represented in NCAA Football 14.
NCAA Football 14 producer Ben Haumiller confirmed to me that the Big East name has been replaced with American, "their preferred shorthand name rather than AAC." Since the conference has yet to finalize their logo, EA is using the NCAA pennant as a placeholder; it will be updated once the official American conference logo is decided.
NCAA Football 14 will also be up-to-date with the latest conference realignments. Get ready because there's quite a few changes. Pitt and Syracuse will be moved to the ACC, while UCF, Houston, SMU, and Memphis are added to the American. Again, the American conference will be changed in next year's version as Rutgers and Louisville are set to leave the conference while it adds East Carolina, Tulane and Tulsa in 2014.
Meanwhile, FAU, FIU, MTSU La Tech, North Texas, and UTSA are now in Conference USA. Replacing those teams in the Sun Belt will be South Alabaman, Georgia State, and Texas State. Utah State and San Jose opted to join the Mountain West. Idaho New Mexico State and Old Dominion are now Independents. Lastly, the WAC has been removed entirely as that conference no longer plays football.
Got all that? Although not confirmed, I'm assuming NCAA Football 14 will allow you to rearrange the conferences to your liking (it did last year), so if you really want to keep the Big East together, I'm guessing you'll be able to do so. Elsewhere in the game, EA has worked to improve NCAA Football 14's presentation. This means the inclusion of several licensed songs including Kerncraft 400 and Seven Nation Army, as well as doing away with the ESPN background menus for more of a "whiteboard style font."
NCAA Football 14 is set to release on Tuesday, July 9 for Xbox 360 and PS3. No next-gen platforms have been announced.