NCAA Football ’12: The Coach Carousel

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Yesterday, NCAA Football 12 designer Jordan Petereson posted to the game’s blog about the game’s new Coach Carousel feature (as part of an ongoing week-long series of posts on the game). This mode, which they say is one of the community’s “top requested features” adds coaches and contracts to the game. Granted, their usage here is greatly expanded, but coaches and contracts were there before were they not? (You could make a coach in the game, get fired, and go to a new school in prior editions.)

Regardless, there is new stuff here. As the player, it’s no longer just the head coach you can create or take over. You can also choose to be an offensive or defensive coordinator that only worries about one side of the ball. There’s a new system for taking on contracts and rising through the “coaching ladder.” Coordinators can be promoted to head coaches. Coaches have an alma mater that, as you progress into your career, may affect job offers. Think Rich Rodriguez, back when he had credibility, taking over West Virginia’s program. You also take your playbook with you as you go from school to school and that playbook could also affect which schools are interested in you. (Granted, Rich Rod’s playbook couldn’t have been a worse fit for Michigan’s personnel at the time, yet there he went. Big win, that move. Sigh.) Most importantly of all, though, you get to select your coach’s apparel…

Woo! (kidding)

The head coaching goals you used to receive just for coaching at a particular school are now a part of the contract process (were there contracts before?) and each goal is weighted as to how much success or failure affects your job security. Goals include how many games you win in a season, signing a specific number of prospects (at a certain level), having a Top 50 recruiting class, etc. Coordinators have different goals, largely based on team statistics for the applicable side of the ball. The blog notes that the goals you receive are based on your coach’s prestige and the school involved, so if you somehow take Western Michigan to a BCS bowl, expect that to have a greater impact on your standing with your school than if you do that as USC.

In terms of recruiting, all coach positions are involved, but the job you do recruiting as a coordinator doesn’t affect your contract goals. For head coaches there’s now a coach loyalty rating that affects how potential recruits view your position at that school. Are you a guy who’s going to bolt or stick around? When they’re pledging the next 4-5 years of their lives to you (along with any NFL aspirations), the kids do care about that stuff.

The carousel itself is meant to reflect the domino effect that goes on each season as positions open up and coaches from other schools move to fill them, open up still more positions. Here’s an example from the blog:

Let’s say it’s year 10 of a Dynasty and Michigan hires South Carolina’s Head Coach because he’s an alumus. South Carolina then hires USC’s Offensive Coordinator because of his offensive style. USC then hires San Diego State’s Head Coach to be their Offensive Coordinator, because of his coach prestige. San Diego State then promotes their Defensive Coordinator to Head Coach because he’s also an alumnus, and so on.

As much as this sounds gimmicky, I actually found myself growing more interested in this as I delved in. There’s a lot of stuff not addressed. Do contracts involve money? Sure, it would just be Simoleans or whatever, but daddy wants to get paid! Is carousel an optional Dynasty feature you enable or disable? How do you play the game if you’re doing the coach carousel thing? Do you play the games or literally and exclusively coach from the sidelines? Can you choose? Do student academics play a role in recruiting and reputation? Can you get in trouble with the NCAA? Will athletes transfer if you don’t fulfill your promises? Is their increased attrition or bump in recruiting difficulty when taking over a new program? What about kids in the program being drafted to the NFL benefiting your reputation? I could go on, but you get my point.

Still, one of the things I always used to enjoy in NCAA was starting out at a small school and working my way up. In that respect this more like a 2.0 version of a feature that’s already been there for years. If these new facets to that part of the game add to it, so much the better. Hell, I might even enjoy doing this in a coach only mode (as opposed to directly controlling the action) moreso than I do actually playing the game, which is not something I get into as much as I used to.

Hopefully we’ll get to interact with this mode some at E3 in a couple weeks, though I’m not holding my breath. Usually you just get to play games on the field and that’s about it. We’ll see. In the meantime, you’ll find more detail on all this at the blog (linked above).

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Todd Brakke

Todd was born in Ann Arbor, with a Michigan helmet in one hand and a mouse in the other. (Never you mind the logistics of this.) He grew, vertically anyway, and is a 20-year publishing veteran as an editor of books on consumer tech and professional development for educators. Because that wasn't enough of a challenge, Todd was a 20-year part-time snob about video games, writing reviews, features, and more for multiple outlets from 1997-2015. Follow him on Twitter @toddsfoolery.

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