Kirk Herbstreit, Chris Fowler ready to ‘blow people’s minds’ with EA Sports College Football 25

Kirk Herbstreit, Chris Fowler ready to ‘blow people’s minds’ with EA Sports College Football 25

After more than 115 hours of voice overs, Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit are thrilled for people to see what they’ve been working on for the past two years.

ESPN’s top college football broadcasting team will take their partnership to the digital world as the top commentary team in EA Sports College Football 25, which will be the first college football video game released in over a decade when it comes out this summer.

When EA Sports initially announced in 2021 the franchise would return, Daryl Holt, senior vice president of the company and general manager of its Tiburon Studios, said EA Sports got several calls from people wanting to be part of the game. But the development team wanted Fowler and Herbstreit to be their top guys. EA Sports wanted the game to be as authentic as possible, and there’s nothing that says that more than having the people who call the biggest games in the sport, including the College Football Playoff national championship game.

Voicing video games is nothing new for Herbstreit; he was the analyst in the last editions of the game, known as NCAA Football, alongside Brad Nessler. But for Fowler, it’s been a goal for so long to be the play-by-play voice of a college football game. 

Now with only a few months left before the game is released, and the commentary work all wrapped up, it means fans are inching closer to get their hands on the game. EA Sports has become an influential force inside college football itself, and by adding Fowler and Herbstreit, it makes that potential impact even more explosive.

“The game is a big part of the culture of the sport,” Fowler told USA TODAY Sports. “(People) are gonna be blown away.”

A different approach to voiceovers

Since it’s Fowler’s first time being in a video game, he wasn’t exactly sure what the work would entail. Right off the bat, he found out how much effort was needed.

“(EA Sports) cares as much about the quality and the consistency of this project. Nothing is even close,” Fowler said. “I didn’t really realize at first how elaborate and how much quality control there is going to be.”

Herbstreit had done this before, but the process was far different. With the NCAA Football franchise, he said he would be flown out to EA Sports’ Tiburon Studios in Orlando, Florida, where he would spend a week doing the voicework for the game. This time around, the duo made their own studios and recorded at home, with EA Sports representatives on video calls to be there to listen to all the work being done. 

Allowing the broadcasters to do it at their homes gave them more time to do the work and get much more audio than before. Herbstreit said they were often given scenarios that would happen in the game and to just take the call and analysis from there, just like they would in an actual commentary booth.

“You’re just kind of visualizing and talking and trying to be kind of in the moment of whatever that situation is,” Herbstreit said. 

Herbstreit added “a lot of it is just ad libbing,” but it has helped with the chemistry the two have. Fowler and Herbstreit have been working together since 1996, and they have been a commentary team for the past decade. 

“There’s just a trust there,” Herbstreit said. “There’s a sequence, there’s a cadence, there’s timing, there’s a rhythm, and a lot of that stuff is there without even thinking about it. That’s the beauty of having so much time together and so much experience together.

“It’s very natural.”

Covering any and all possibilities 

Fowler has shared glimpses on social media of what the recording sessions are like, and it’s obvious to see why the process has been so lengthy. Not only are they getting audio for all the plays you’d typically see in a game, they are getting calls for the extremes.

Punting on second down? That’s covered. Trying a 70-yard field goal? That’s there too. Fowler said a recent one he did was kicking an extra point or field goal at the end of the game that results in a loss.

“More things can happen in a video game than in a real game because players do strange things,” Fowler said. “That would be weird for it to happen. But every eventuality is covered, especially in that situational stuff.”

Fowler added the commentators did extensive work for the overtime period, especially since the rules differ from the last time it was in a video game. Since there is even more pressure during the extra time, he wanted “the intensity to match” what it would be if it were real life. 

Holt said the reasoning to have so many scenarios, even ones that sound impossible, in the game goes back to the game wanting the game to have an authentic feel to it, as strange as it sounds.

“There’s so many different aspects to the game and the players themselves that almost anything can happen at any moment in college football,” he said. “If it could happen, then we want to reflect that.”

The infinite possibilities is why it was a two-year process to get the recordings done. Last Tuesday was the final day of voiceovers for the duo, and it was wrapping up all the names that will be in the game since more than 10,000 real-life college football players have opted into being in the video game. Since it is the NIL era, players will be compensated for their likeness being used in the game, a drastic change in what was the main reason why NCAA Football ended.

Fowler estimated more than 700 names needed to be recorded for the game.

New details for EA Sports College Football 25

If you’re hoping Herbstreit or Fowler might know all the details of the game outside of the commentary they’ve done, you’re out of luck. But Herbstreit did already reveal there will be different broadcasters calling games depending on the magnitude of it.

Even with all the voicework done, there is bound to be some repetitive phrases or terminology used, but Fowler said players are “going to hear much more variety.” He also expects players will have all sorts of creative options in the game, and appreciates the extensive work EA Sports has done from what he has seen.

“It’s just incredibly detailed and dense. The fact that it’s home stadiums, any weather condition you want, anytime a day you want,” he said. “The flexibility to create, that’s going to come through and it’s going to make people just excited because it includes a lot of the things that I love about the sport besides the actual football itself.”

Herbstreit, who became a fan of the franchise back when it was known as Bill Walsh College Football in the early 1990s, pointed to how the updated technology in the game will make the game visually stunning while having solid gameplay. 

“The actual gameplay itself, with how far they’ve come with that, I think that’s going to be really fantastic,” Herbstreit said. “Everything you see in the college game, from a strategic standpoint, I think will be on point.”

Getting Ben Herbstreit in EA Sports College Football 25

While he doesn’t know everything about the game, there is one thing Herbstreit does want: his dog and now a college football icon, Ben, to be in the game.

“He’s always sitting in the studio with me in my office when I’m doing the voice work, so he’s all in himself,” Herbstreit said. “I’ll keep asking EA to somehow get him involved. I think it’d be hilarious to find a way to get him involved. I got to find the right person that understands the magnitude that he’s had on the sport.”

All jokes aside, Herbstreit is just like every college football fanatic that is eagerly waiting to get their hands on the game. He and his sons are hoping EA Sports will be generous enough to send him an early copy of the game. As cool as it is to once again be the voice, he just wants to play the game already. 

How close is EA Sports College Football 25 to being done?

Holt added the production team is “pushing to the finish line” right now and it’s about ironing out the fine details. A full reveal of the game, which should include a trailer with details about gameplay and presentation, is expected to be coming in the “next few weeks.”

Expectations are high for a game that people across the country have been desperately waiting for since the beginning of the College Football Playoff. EA Sports appears to understand the magnitude of the moment, and it knows it can’t let down a hungry fanbase. Holt said early impressions of the game gives it “its own unique feel.” 

“We want to make sure we are representing the game and what it means to those fans,” Holt said. 

But if anymore hype was needed, the ones that will be voicing the game are thrilled for gamers to see what they spent so much time working on and perfecting.

“The presentation will just blow people’s minds,” Herbstreit said.

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