EA Sports revealed new details about this year’s edition of Madden NFL by spotlighting a brand new story mode in the game. In it, you guide a player up the ranks from high school stardom to a shot to prove what you can do in the NFL. In between high school and the NFL comes college football though, and EA Sports has had to back down from using college football images in recent years due to legal concerns and lawsuits.

So when the footage of Madden NFL 18 story mode showed a glimpse of Texas playing Oregon, it did not go flying under the radar for those who have been starving for a return of the NCAA Football franchise. There is a key difference in how EA Sports used NCAA licenses in its NCAA Football franchise and how it will be used in the Madden NFL franchise.

The story follows the journey of Devin Wade, a rising high school star from Texas. The entire story mode is about just getting to the NFL, which means you never play a down in the NFL in the story mode. This is just about his path to the league. The story even includes Mahershala Ali as Wade’s father. It’s pretty epic. But how can EA Sports use the Texas Longhorns and Oregon Ducks in the story mode?

Simply put, the use of NCAA images in Madden NFL is not being used to sell the likeness of any actual NCAA programs or players. Because this is a detailed and mapped out story mode, EA can get around the shadiness that came with the NCAA Football franchise. It is also made possible because schools have the right to individually sell their likenesses to companies like Electronic Arts. This practice is not unique either, as 2k Sports has been doing it with their NBA 2k franchise for a few years now.

This is NOT an NCAA-licensed game, which is a nice little way for EA Sports to offer at least a taste of the glory days of the NCAA Football franchise. Some of us will take what we can get. What is unknown is how many licenses EA Sports has acquired for use in its story mode in addition to Texas and Oregon.

EA Sports has not released a full NCAA Football game since 2013 due to the Ed O’Bannon lawsuit against the NCAA.

[SB Nation]

About Kevin McGuire

Contributor to Athlon Sports and The Comeback. Previously contributed to NBCSports.com. Host of the Locked On Nittany Lions Podcast. FWAA member and Philadelphia-area resident.