Alex Taylor: Taylor UW's traditions could return in EA Sports video game

Apr. 18—Public records requests come in all different shapes and sizes.

After EA Sports released a trailer for its upcoming college football video game Feb. 15, I started digging into what individual schools would be submitting to the developers for implementation into the game.

That same day, I put in a request to the University of Wyoming for any correspondence the school had with EA Sports for the game's development, including uniforms, songs and traditions.

More than two months has passed since EA Sports released its initial trailer. Finally, the email from UW's public records office hit my inbox late Tuesday afternoon.

UW submitted a plethora of information to EA Sports over the past two years in regards to the company's upcoming video game. While nothing the school turned in is guaranteed to be in the game, the submissions gave EA Sports consent to use them, if it chooses.


UW submitted its familiar Steamboat statue to EA Sports. The bucking horse and rider sculpture sits right outside the High Altitude Performance Center leading onto Jonah Field at the War.

Before every home game, each Cowboy touches the statue on their way out to the field. It wouldn't be a huge shock to see Steamboat in this summer's game, as UW's traditional entrance was in prior versions before EA Sports stopped production of the series in 2013.

UW even contacted the statue's artist, Chris Navarro, seeking permission to use the statue in the game because it was a commissioned piece.

"(I'll) ensure that the team takes that piece of detail and tries to fit in if they can make it work technically," an EA Sports representative said to UW in an email.

UW also submitted three songs for consideration to be used in the game, including "Ragtime Cowboy Joe," "Fight, Wyoming, Fight," and "In Heaven There is No Beer." While the "beer" song is unlikely to make it in because of the nature of the lyrics, an EA representative passed the song up the chain for consideration.

"I will say, 'Fight, Wyoming, Fight,' is rarely, if ever, used. I am sure you cannot incorporate this song into the game for various reasons, but ('In Heaven There is No Beer') is far more popular and played often at Wyoming football games," UW associate athletics director for trademark and licensing Tracy Richardson said in an email to EA Sports.

"If there aren't any issues from a licensing standpoint, they may consider it as an additional song for the school," EA Sports replied back.

EA Sports emphasized the importance of rivalry games for its upcoming video game. In response, UW submitted photos of all three of its traveling trophies, including the Bronze Boot with Colorado State (with a specific Border War logo), the Paniolo Trophy with Hawaii and Bridger's Rifle with Utah State.

"Rivalry games are such a big part of college football, and EA is hoping to create the spirit and energy surrounding as many of these rivalry games as possible," EA Sports said in an email. "... EA is not certain that they can get to every game in year one — but they want to know about them, and they plan to include as many as possible."

Perhaps the most important piece of EA Sports' revival of its college football game is the legalization of players being paid through name, image and likeness. NIL lawsuits are what caused the video game series to crash and burn in the first place, but now, EA Sports is legally allowed to pay players to use their likeness in the game.

EA Sports will pay players who opt in a minimum of $600, along with a free copy of the game, according to the Associated Press. More than 12,300 players had opted in as of Tuesday, according to Front Office Sports.

Players who opt out will not be included, and cannot be manually added or created in the game.

To stay on top of generating real players in the upcoming game, EA Sports requested photos of all of UW's current players. Surely, this request was made to all 134 Football Bowl Subdivision schools that will be in the game.

"To accurately depict the student-athletes who opt into the game, our team expects to create more human likenesses at one time than has ever been attempted in video game history," EA Sports said to UW. "From a development perspective, it will take a substantial amount of time and resources to create and develop potentially thousands of individual student-athlete likenesses for the game if student-athletes opt in for inclusion in the game.

"We are seeking photo assets now in order to be ready to proceed if a student-athlete elects to be in the game as we complete development work for a 2024 game release."

Student-athletes have until the end of April to opt into the game, but at UW, there's already a handful of players fans can expect to see virtually this summer.

"I'm juiced about it," offensive tackle Caden Barnett told WyoSports on Tuesday. "I won't be able to play as myself (as an offensive lineman), but it'll be cool to watch myself and maybe cuss myself out, depending on my set. It's going to be fun."

Redshirt freshman Kaden Anderson will likely be UW's third-string quarterback coming out of spring ball. That depth chart will change this summer, or at least it will on his Xbox.

"I think every college football kid will probably (swap themselves into the starting lineup)," Anderson said with a laugh Tuesday. "That's definitely been a goal of mine: To be in a college football game. So, I will definitely be doing that, for sure."

Current players might not be the only playable characters for UW fans in the video game. EA Sports requested pictures of UW's campus, stadium, cheerleaders, player walks, equipment and uniforms, locker rooms, tunnels and mascot imagery. The company also asked for historical photos that might include past or present players.

Will Cowboys fans be able to play as Josh Allen and Logan Wilson in a college football video game for the first time ever?

"We are in search of some unique assets from a short list of schools as we seek to achieve the most authentic college experience possible for our players," EA Sports said in an email to Richardson. "... (It) would be great to have a link to some of these for our team to take a deeper look at how Wyoming football is represented in game."

While there's no guarantees everything UW submitted to EA Sports will make it into the finished product, Cowboys fans — and sports fans, in general — should have plenty to look forward to when a college football video game hits the market this summer for the first time in 11 years.

"I just hope they don't butcher my face," UW kicker John Hoyland said with a laugh. "I have to make sure my head shot is pretty good, but I'm excited. I think the family is excited to play as me, too, because it's cool. It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."

Alex Taylor is the assistant editor for WyoSports and covers University of Wyoming athletics. He can be reached at Follow him on X at @alex_m_taylor22.