Two news stories are revolving around the release of NCAA Football 10 - neither of which has anything to do with the fact that the new game is pretty good but infuriatingly flawed.
The first news item: Sam Keller - ex-quarterback for Arizona State and Nebraska - has filed a class-action lawsuit against the NCAA and Electronic Arts, the maker of NCAA games. Keller claims NCAA games have for years used his and other college players' likenesses without paying them a penny.
As you know, players can't earn football-related money while in college. But EA and the NCAA have, and they are fighting the lawsuit.
Keller's name was never used in an NCAA game. But his likeness, he says, represented "Quarterback No. 9" at Arizona State and "Quarterback No. 5" at Nebraska.
By coincidence, just before I read about that lawsuit, I ran into former USC quarterback Mark Sanchez (now with the New York Jets) at a charity event in Las Vegas. I asked him if he had ever played an NCAA game as himself, as the USC quarterback. Yes, he said, and the player had his jersey number.
"It doesn't have your name on it. It's pretty cool," Sanchez told me. "It's very similar but it doesn't look too much like you."
Sanchez - whose likeness will appear in EA's Madden NFL franchise - wasn't bitter about not getting money out of the NCAA games. "We survived," he said. "I made it through college. I'm sure everybody else will, too."
Second news item: The on-field reporter for NCAA Football 10 is Erin Andrews, reprising her on-field reporting role for ESPN.
In June, Andrews was victimized by some joker who shot nude video of her through a hotel door's peephole. Ingenious, yes. Scumbaggery, yes.
That video made the rounds online. But then, some other joker inserted computer viruses into variations of it, so if you go searching for "Erin Andrews peephole," you could end up destroying your hard drive.
So is the game good? Definitely yes, but also no. Flaws:
A) Idiotically, the game has an unforgivable save-progress system. I just lost six hours of progress in a season after I turned off my Xbox 360.
B) It's too easy on offense to purposely bump defensive safeties, causing interference calls against opponents.
C) If I move a backfielder in motion, he sometimes changes his pass route without telling me.
D) The video action gets choppy sometimes during instant replays and running plays.
E) When I run up the score, the announcer tells me I'm a bad sport, and this hurts my team's status. Uh, hello? I have to run up the score to increase my standing in polls, and to practice red-zone plays for future games.
However, I give NCAA Football 10 a good rating, because it's addictive. It looks excellent and plays terribly fun - but does suffer angrifying flaws.