In times like this, when it seems so hard to find anything that unifies us or brings us together no matter how hard we plea, I find myself noticing that memories and moments have at least helped bridge some gaps, even for fleeting hours.
One such fond memory for myself and I’m sure for people my age is playing the EA Sports NCAA Football video game series. Every summer, with college football on the horizon, we’d set aside our money or let our parents know the newest edition of the video game was at the top of our wish list.
Though an eventual name-and-likeness lawsuit caused EA Sports to stop production of the game at NCAA Football 14, the nostalgia and love has still remained.
Heck, it’s the only reason there’s still a Playstation 3 console in my house.
In this time of quarantining and social distancing, demand for a limited product has risen, with copies of the game selling for $239.99 on Amazon or up to $189.99 on eBay.
Popular site Barstool Sports personality and podcast co-host Dan Katz created a coach named Gus Duggerton in the game and began a career mode with the bald and portly offensive coordinator, live-streaming games on the online gaming platform Twitch to thousands of followers.
(I know there’s a lot of titles and names that you may have never heard of. Stick with me.)
Duggerton’s fictional journey began at Toledo as an offensive coordinator. In the game, you can start your career as a head coach or as a coordinator on either offense or defense. Following each season, which includes options to play games, recruit future players and track your season stats, the created coaching figure may elect to leave their current position for another job.
Duggerton did just that, going from Toledo to Florida State for a season, then to Southern California as OC for a season before taking over as Texas Tech’s head coach. That, again, only lasted one season before becoming Tennessee’s head coach and eventually leading the Volunteers to a national championship in his second year in Knoxville.
Much to C-N assistant sports editor (and University of Toledo alumni) Randy Roberts’ delight, Duggerton spurned openings at Alabama and other blue-bloods to return back to the Glass Bowl and coach the Rockets once more .
Though the journey has been entertaining enough for some of us, the real entertainment has come from the Internet itself.
Without actual on-the-field sports going on, social media accounts for all the aforementioned colleges have joined in on the fun with graphics and game recaps of the video game results, just as they would have with the actual flesh-and-blood program’s contests.
Head coaches like Iowa State’s Matt Campbell and Ole Miss’ Lane Kiffin have chimed in on occasion, even going as high as official Twitter accounts from the Mid-American Conference, Buffalo Wild Wings, Bud Light and Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz tweeting praise.
Kapszukiewicz has even announced a key to the city of Toledo would be on the line if Duggerton can guide the Rockets to the national championship.
Now this all may seem trivial in the big scheme of things, and maybe it is. However, it’s been fun for those of a certain age to see something we all probably did and joked about during our more video game-heavy younger days reach such a high platform.
And in this time of seriousness when people crave just the slightest bit of positive news, it can be fun sometimes just to see a pot-bellied, visor-wearing mustachioed video game character guide a program to new heights.
In case you were wondering, Duggerton’s Rockets have reached those new heights, finishing 13-0 with a MAC title game win over Bowling Green on Friday afternoon.
Here’s some other bits of news I’ve picked up over the last week or so:
FOOTBALL PLAYOFFS: Not to put the cart before many, many horses, but the OHSAA did announce a change in the playoff setup for the upcoming 2020 football season. The division assignments for Friday and Saturday of playoff weekends has flipped.
Playoff teams in Division I, II, III and VII will compete at 7 p.m. on Friday nights with Divisions IV, V and VI playing at 7 p.m. Saturday nights.
COACHING CAROUSEL: A familiar face to Continental fans will guide the Pirates on the boys hardwood next season, with 2007 grad Scott Keck taking the reins. The former Pirate sharpshooter, who was on the 2005 state semifinalist team, still holds the school single-game records for steals (nine) and made 3-pointers (eight). Keck takes over for Eric Maag, who was 9-61 in three seasons.
In other coaching news, Tim McCarthy will depart the Evergreen baseball program without having coached an official game. The former Swanton skipper didn’t get to coach the Vikings this spring but is leaving Metamora for a job at Sylvania Southview.
Putnam County will see another boys basketball coaching change as current Fort Jennings athletic director Todd Hoehn will replace Ryan Schroeder as boys coach after three seasons. On the baseball side of things, Columbus Grove coach Eric Naughton is stepping down following two seasons, including a 2019 Putnam County League crown, as he heads to Illinois with his family following a job offer to his wife.
Naughton’s position is yet to be filled, as is Brad Hurst’s position as head boys basketball coach at Holgate. Tinora is also in need of a boys and girls bowling coach, along with a freshman volleyball coach.
CAMPS: With things starting to open back up, Defiance College softball will be hosting a 2020 prospect camp on July 31 with attendees going through drills and getting instruction from DC coaches and players. The camp will be open for grades 9-12 and will take place at Sal Hench Field. Participation costs for the pitchers and catchers session from 9-11:30 a.m. is $75 and for defense and hitting from 12:30-4:30 p.m. is $125. For both sessions, the cost is $175. A short question and answer session will follow from 4:30-5 p.m.
Attendees need to bring their own bat, glove, helmet and water bottle, a facemask as desired and tennis shoes in case of weather. Any questions can be directed to DC softball coach Megan Warren at email@example.com or 419-576-6268.