Ostensibly put up to a series of fan-voted Facebook polls, NCAA Football 14's cover also will be influenced by other, as yet unexplained, social media forces. A field of all 126
Division I-A Football Bowl Subdivision teams was supposed to have been thinned to 32 candidates after Monday, but we don't yet know who the finalists are. With Penn State currently in first place among fan voting on Facebook—and Kentucky, of all football powers, a close second—I think it's clear why this popularity contest has some fudge factors working in the background.
First, Kentucky. It's a solid example of a school possessing both a motivated and completely delusional fanbase, in addition to an historically awful football résumé that trolls would love to make into an EA Sports poster boy. Would Duke command this kind of a response? Indiana? Kansas? Bayl— well, OK. Baylor was on the cover last year, yeah.
Since 1932, Kentucky has won exactly two more SEC football titles than Vanderbilt, and none since the Ford administration. In its only good year, 1950, Bear Bryant—yes, really—led the Wildcats to a Sugar Bowl win over Oklahoma, a year in which some Kentucky partisans claim a national championship under the same horseshit arguments that Alabama fans today earnestly claim ownership of forty-lebem-sebemteen-million national championships or whatever. Who in Christ's name would EA Sports choose to represent Kentucky in a college football game? George Blanda? Jared Lorenzen? Tim Couch? Google "Notable Kentucky Football Players" and it literally says "No results found."
OK, so, that's Kentucky, which last week was No, 1 in the Facebook voting and currently has 11,542 votes. The bigger slap-slap-slapping to the face is Penn State, whose 12,530 votes make it the current poll No. 1. Penn State is certainly a national brand. It's a tarnished national brand, too, thanks to Jerry Sandusky and the former administration's head-in-the-sand response to his depredations. The growth prospects for sports video game simulations are low enough as it is. I scarcely imagine EA Sports' marketing operation will ask mom or grandma to buy a copy of something that sounds like NCAA Child Rape Coverup 2014.
These are the top two vote getters in a poll of fans of all 126
Division I-A FBS Subdivision teams. It's not like either would today be named the NCAA Football 14 cover winner, but under the rules put forth, you have to figure they made it to the second round. Who's going to represent this game? Who knows. In 2011, Madden had convicted dogfighter Michael Vick in the final round, and he lost to a white running back from the Cleveland Browns, so maybe there is some precedent for Penn State and Kentucky here.