Twenty-one years later, the game that started NCAA Football gets a review

This week would have seen the launch of College Football 15, or whatever EA Sports was planning to call the gamebefore it pulled the plug last fall. There have been numerous tributes and retrospectives (including our own) but SB Nation goes further into ancient history to review the game that started the series: Bill Walsh College Football.

Released 21 years ago for Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis, Bill Walsh College Football was of the age when sports video games, if they had any licensing, typically featured only a single recognizable personality. In this case, all Bill Walsh was doing was lending his name to the cover. Not only were the players of the 1993 college season masked with the position/uniform number convention of present day (which ultimately got the series in legal trouble), the teams themselves were, too.

That's why Texas A&M was called "College Station" and Florida State was "Tallahassee." Though universities that in fact shared the name of a real state or city (Florida, even Clemson) still appeared under that name. It was a wild west landscape when big time sports leagues weren't as aware of what was going on in video games as they are now.

Bill Walsh College Football had two editions before becoming College Football USA, which also had two editions. That became NCAA Football 98, the first game in the series developed by EA Tiburon. Electronic Arts finally got official licensing for the football series as a package deal with the NCAA for its March Madness trademark in the basketball series that began that year (and closed in 1999).

How well does Bill Walsh College Football hold up today? Jason Kirk scores it highly for its style and authenticity (especially Kansas' kicker being the best player on the team.) Anyone who remembers that Ron Barr, the EA Sports announcer from the iconic NHL '94, also appeared in this game should check it out.

More from Polygon

The horror of Five Nights at Freddy's

  • Dark Souls 2: Crown of the Old Iron King Overview

  • Spacecom: a fast 4X built for multiplayer

  • Pillars of Eternity builds on role-playing classics

  • Tour the 1 KB hard drive built inside Minecraft

Latest Discussions

Log In Sign Up

Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new Polygon username and password

As part of the new Polygon launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to Polygon going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new Polygon username and password

As part of the new Polygon launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to Polygon going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.



Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.