SBNation's Patrick Vint had a great find, as he wrote about how Tim Tebow's name was actually used for a play call in NCAA Football 10, a game by EA Sports.
Now, that last sentence might not seem like a big deal to you. But it contradicts one of the key arguments being set forth by the NCAA and EA Sports in a very important lawsuit brought by former UCLA basketball player Ed O'Bannon.
O'Bannon's suit claims that the NCAA used the likenesses of players to sell things like DVDs and video games made by EA Sports, and players didn't make anything off it. The NCAA and EA Sports tries to get around that by saying that no player names are used. Anyone who has played the games will tell you that when "QB #16" for Michigan has the exact same attributes as Denard Robinson (and is playing in an exact video game replica of Michigan Stadium, in an exact replica of the Michigan uniform), for example, it's pretty clear that player on the screen is supposed to be Denard Robinson. But EA Sports and the NCAA kept saying no names were used.
But apparently the highest profile name in college football the past few years was inserted into the game a few years ago, which makes that argument even more dubious than it already was.
As SBNation wrote, it took some digging to find Tebow's name on one of the plays (the sixth and seventh plays listed on the image at the top), but one of their readers did it and the site confirmed it:
While the full formation name is shortened during gameplay, the full title is revealed in the Game Prep feature in Dynasty mode. The formation, with the quarterback in the shotgun and two running backs placed two yards ahead of him, was a formation commonly used by Florida during Tebow's time in Gainesville.
Let's look at NCAA chief legal officer Donald Remy's comment on the suit from April 25:
"While the NCAA is still reviewing this filing, it appears to be more of the same – baseless theories supported only by inaccurate speculation aimed at destroying amateurism in college athletics.
"Plaintiffs have failed to put forth any actual facts in support of their claims."
Schools and the NCAA destroyed amateurism in college athletics long ago by selling out anything and everything it could for a buck. Like, players' likenesses in video games. Or realignment that most everyone who isn't getting paid off hates. Or conference television networks. Or rights to "The Official Ladder of the NCAA Tournament."
The Tebow mention isn't proof that the lawsuit will be a winner, just that it pokes a huge hole in the ridiculous notion that because names aren't used in the game that the actual NCAA players aren't being used to make a profit. But it does seem like putting forth an actual fact to support the claims.
“Our agreement with EA Sports clearly prohibits the use of names and pictures of current student-athletes in their electronic games. We are confident that no such use has occurred," NCAA spokesman Bob Williams said in 2009, the same year NCAA Football 10 came out, according to the NCAA's timeline.
This lawsuit is a pretty scary thing for the NCAA. A loss could change the model of college athletics. The way the greed of the schools and the NCAA has grown, that might be for the best.