Even if you’re never played “Madden” or “NCAA” — if you’ve never poured your blood, sweat, and tears over the sticks (see: the controller), never thrown a gaming console out a window, never had your life devoured by the phenomenon (see: energy vampire) that is Teambuilder Online Dynasty — you’re likely still aware of how big a part of the sports landscape — and pop culture, in general — the two EA Sports video game franchises have become. People line up outside stores at midnight to get the newest version, every year. When you type “Madden” into Google, the game pops up before the man the game is named after. There are reality shows based solely on people playing it. It’s a big deal.
Having a player from your team honored with the cover? Huge.
So it’s strange that Auburn fans seem to have forgotten about Nick Fairley’s “NCAA 12” cover nomination earlier this month. There’s been little talk about it over the last few weeks, let alone any kind of major campaigning from Auburn — fans, school — like you might expect.
Imagine if Ben Tate had been nominated for the cover of “NCAA 11.” There would have been Ben Tate, Inc.-organized parades in the streets. Banners strung downtown. Some Ever To Conquer foundation made to ensure our guy won the honor. But that hasn’t happened this year for Nick Fairley. [Ed. note — would we be having this conversation were a certain Blessed Individual up for the cover?]
That discussion and promotion of the contest has been relative weak hasn’t been because Auburn fans were too busy voting. Next time you’re on the official EA Sports NCAA Facebook page, where the voting is done, check out the wall where people are posting who they voted for, who they’re supporting. If you scroll all the way back to when voting opened on March 3rd, “Fairley” is mentioned just 892 times while “Ingram” is mentioned 1,450 times. (DeMarco “Murray” is mention 490 times, and Jake “Locker” 310.) While it’s a small sample size of the 530,585 who “like” the page — many of whom have probably voted multiple times — I think it’s fair to say that Mark Ingram is winning the contest right now*, and it’s not even close.
The reason why is unclear.
Perhaps all of the votes for Ingram are coming from Fairley’s former teammate and fellow defensive lineman Antoine Carter, who knows the only way an Ingram cover could jive with the reality of last season is if he were on it, too, chasing Ingram down, saving the Iron Bowl.
Or perhaps Auburn fans are simply tired of the spotlight. Have we been spoiled by the Heisman Trophy, the national championship? Are we just genuinely full, and content to let the rest of the world have some fun, even our enemies to the west?
With a week remaining in the voting, let’s hope Auburn fans come surging from behind in the clutch to pop the cover out of Ingram’s hands and win Nick Fairley the honor he deserves.
* An EA Sports email reminder about the vote sent late Monday night confirms it: “Alabama’s Heisman Trophy-winning tailback Mark Ingram is in the lead. It’s up to you to knock him out of the lead or keep riding the Crimson Tide to the top.”
You can vote for Nick Fairley here once per day, every day. Voting ends April 4th, a week from today. The winner will be announced April 19th; the game is scheduled for release on June 12th.
Cover awesomeness via @NewtonCaleb.
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