Previously on Laramie City Lights...
After a long hiatus, the saga of Coach Luke has returned to your email inboxes, and you may need a recap.
Greetings and welcome to the return of Laramie City Lights, a fictional story that follows the mysterious Coach Luke as he deals with challenges both on and off the fields of NCAA Football 14.
It’s been—wow—nearly a year since we last talked and it feels like it would be quite silly to quickly enter us back into the world without a series recap. For readers new and old, I present to you a summary of what has transpired over twenty-one seasons of simulated football.
If you are brand new to the series, this contains spoilers of past stories but, actually, this is meant to serve as a good entry point for a new reader since this will recap everything that has happened without you having to spend a day catching up.
The Initial Mission
For the uninitiated, this is a series that was completely inspired by Ricky O’Donnell from SB Nation. During the global lockdown of 2020, the live sports world was shut down and Ricky’s job as a sports writer was in peril, but he came up with an idea to report on a team in a video game.
He followed the fake career of a fake coach in College Hoops 2k8 but Ricky was not playing the game himself aside from controlling the coach’s recruitment process; he was watching the games and seeing how things would unfold. The drama of this unpredictable story structure inspired me to do a spinoff in NCAA Football 14. Ricky gave his blessing, and here we are. Instead of Coach Rick, this series followed Coach Luke.
Ricky’s series eventually moved from being a blog to also being a live-streamed series on Twitch. I did the same with this series and started broadcasting these seasons on Twitch and then reported the results in this newsletter.
A wonderful community of sensitive, caring people emerged during that journey as folks seemed to enjoy this venture of imagination and silliness. The community here started a Discord server where bonds grew stronger outside of this newsletter and Twitch channel. The community became a vital part of this series as they created characters to put into the world and wrote stories of their own to add more layers to this saga.
This newsletter serves as the anchor for the world that is being built. It recaps the games and tells behind-the-scenes stories. The stories in this newsletter have ranged from silly to absurd but they still are stories nonetheless.
Will A New NCAA Football Game Being Released Change This Series?
Haha, no. This series will remain set where it is now: in the original NCAA Football 14 universe. I am also not using the current Revamped modifications to the game either. Even if three new NCAA games come out by the time I get to the final 60th season here, this series will remain set in this old wonderful version of the game.
Now, let’s dive into a recap of all that has happened here over twenty-one seasons.
The Way The World Has Changed
Coach Luke was first hired by the University of Akron to be their head coach in the year 2013. From that point forward, an alternate universe was created with a new timeline for college football and the world itself.
In this newsletter, I’ve made references to all of the changes that make this fictional world different than our own. Here’s what has happened in this universe:
2021 - Flying cars and jetpacks became a major form of transportation in America.
2022 - Energy cubes became the most popular food to eat. Space travel became a commercialized enterprise, leading to more space exploration.
2023 - Space aliens landed on Earth and started living in our communities. They aren’t great athletes but they love the game of football dearly.
2024 - Aliens taught us commercial teleportation, which shut down the airline business. Pasta and coffee no longer exist and were removed from all store shelves.
2025 - A fashion trend popped up where people wear shoes on their hands. A cat named Phoenix was sworn in as President of the United States of America to start the year.
2026 - All books were banned from Earth, both new and old.
2028 - All eating utensils were removed from Earth. Knives and forks were replaced by mini laser swords and laser pokers. Spoons were never replaced and the soup industry suffered.
2029 - Cats were elected to a majority of American government positions. Smartphones were eliminated from the world and landlines became the main way to talk to someone.
2032 - President Phoenix started her third term as POTUS. Many major cities fully flooded due to climate changes, and boats became a main form of transportation as a result. Human cloning became legal and commercialized, causing overcrowding issues in some cities.
Don’t worry, you don’t need to keep track of all of these changes to enjoy the series. They’re mostly there for story flavor.
What exactly has Coach Luke accomplished in twenty-one seasons as a college football head coach? Quite a bit actually.
When he first walked onto the practice field at the University of Akron, he hadn’t yet figured out how to lead a team and his team only managed one win during his first season. Coach Luke was on the hot seat, but a backup QB named Cortez Haumiller saved his career and the Akron Zips managed five wins in Coach’s second year. Momentum only built from there as a local star junior college player named Kenneth “K-Dubs” Washington came to Akron to play quarterback and start a revolution. Akron would start piling up wins and become a destination school.
By Coach’s seventh season, he established Akron as a real program and they went undefeated and won the Sugar Bowl. Coach Luke would follow that up with a second undefeated season and a BCS National Championship win for Akron in his eighth year.
Injuries and bad luck would strike from there as the team went 43-9 over the next four seasons. Akron remained strong, but not dominant. In Coach Luke’s thirteenth season, it all came back together as Akron had another undefeated championship season which was a big relief after their multi-year hiatus. Akron would follow that up with another national championship in his fourteenth season and then Coach Luke left the team to look for a new challenge. His job was done there.
He’d find himself in Wyoming, excited about a chance to save a new school and community. While he was able to create winning seasons right away, it took time for him to create a championship culture again.
His fifth year at Wyoming, and nineteenth season as head coach, finally saw results though as Lamont Collins took over as a sensational freshman quarterback and the team went 13-1. They would only make the Las Vegas Bowl but they’d win that and then follow it up with another 13-1 season where they’d win the Rose Bowl.
In the last season before this series took a break, the Wyoming Cowboys made it to their first BCS National Championship game but lost to TCU (27-24) in a heartbreaking game.
The first time we heard the name LeBron James in this series was in Year 2 when Coach Luke got signed to his first contract extension. Coach Luke had just completed a five-win season, after the University of Akron only had three wins in their previous three seasons. LeBron reached out to Coach Luke with a phone call to thank him for representing LeBron’s hometown well. It would turn out that LeBron would become very invested in Akron football and particularly Coach Luke.
After Akron won the MAC title the next year, LeBron paid a personal visit to Coach Luke to thank him again for his work. LeBron would show up again after the next season to help Kenneth “K-Dubs” Washington pack up and say goodbye to Akron.
The first sign of awkwardness between them came when LeBron asked Coach Luke if he could be the offensive coordinator of the Zips and Coach Luke told him to stick to basketball. From there, LeBron realized that he could only support Coach Luke and Akron with his money and fame. Things were fine in that regard and LeBron was a huge supporter when Akron won their first title in Coach Luke’s eighth season.
When Coach Luke struggled to win another title, LeBron became more involved and threatened Coach Luke and his cat and said he’d cut all his donations if the team continued to struggle. When Coach Luke got the team winning again, LeBron worked behind the scenes to move Akron to the Big Ten and even spearheaded a campaign for a new stadium: Lebron James Stadium.
LeBron’s control over Akron only grew as he started doing his own recruiting trips and trying to make Akron into something bigger than Coach Luke wanted. During an argument about recruiting trips one fateful night, LeBron kicked Coach Luke’s cat and Coach Luke immediately quit his job at Akron. He’d play out his final championship game there but decided he wanted to be free from LeBron and Akron.
In Wyoming, Coach Luke found freedom but also found another group of controlling people who cared too much about his football team: Wyoming’s secret society of Poet Laureates.
The Poet Laureates wanted the state of Wyoming to embrace sadness and disappointment and, for them, having a losing football team was a big part of that. They would befriend Coach Luke in an effort to sabotage his recruiting efforts. They eventually kidnapped and threatened Coach Luke when nothing else was working.
LeBron would then reunite with Coach Luke and try to help him distract the Poet Laureates. It worked well enough but, eventually, the Poets would disappear and LeBron would only claim that he “took care of them” when Coach Luke asked about it and he threatened to blackmail Coach Luke over their disappearance. With this blackmail, LeBron would try to demand more from Coach Luke and Wyoming. LeBron wanted control over Wyoming’s schedule and wanted to recreate the fun of Akron at Wyoming.
Coach Luke was left, once again, unable to control the team in the way that he wanted to control it.
The Best Coach Luke Players
In twenty-one seasons of Coach Luke football, we’ve seen some absolute legends walk onto the field and dazzle us with their computer-generated performances. Some of those legends wore the blue and gold of Akron and some of those legends wore the brown and gold of Wyoming. There have been players that have frustrated us as well, like QB Rod Jackson or HB Ian Brown. There have been far more players who have amazed us though.
As we continue on in this series, you’ll likely hear the names of some of these legends come up from time to time so I shall name the players that were the best in this series thus far. If I were to create a Hall of Fame of the greatest Coach Luke players, it would look something like this on the offensive side of the ball:
QB Kenneth Washington (AKR)
QB Andrew Fountain (AKR)
QB Leonard Sims (AKR)
QB Lamont Collins (WYO)
RB Jared Oliver (AKR)
RB Keith King (AKR)
RB Garrett Everett (WYO)
RB Anthony Cox (WYO)
WR Chauncey White (AKR)
There could be some argument there about some players that may deserve a bit more love than I’ve given. Heck, I’m sure there are lots of great offensive linemen that we’ve seen too but they rarely get the glory so I can’t tell you which ones have impacted our offense the most for us.
Contrary to my own belief, the game is more than just offense though. Here’s who I would consider for our other Hall of Famers that have graced the field under Coach Luke:
DE James Smith (AKR)
DE T.J. Blanco (AKR)
LB Todd Austin (AKR)
DB Anthony Morris (AKR)
DB Howard Norman (AKR)
DB Lamar Taylor (AKR)
K Roland Williams (AKR)
K Yu Outlaw (WYO)
P Deuce (WYO)
The Year 22 Team
When this series took a break, we were about to enter the Year 22 season. In fact, I watched and recorded the season last year, so you will finally see a recap of that season in an upcoming newsletter.
Before that season recap comes out, feel free to take a chance to familiarize yourself with the team once again by reading the Year 22 Preview.
Call For Help
It’s great to be back here crafting the Coach Luke story again, but I have to recognize that this isn’t something I can handle alone anymore.
Yes, the series could easily just be simplified and I could take away YouTube videos, or stat-keeping, or community-involved recruiting, or the newsletter, or lots of other things. Heck, I could easily just make this a Twitch-only series, for instance, without any other stuff.
That’s just not how I want this series to be though. I love the stats. I love making the videos. I love the box scores. I love the newsletter. I love the stories. I love the world-building. I love the community and everything they add to this too.
As I return to writing this series and return to streaming games on Twitch, I am asking for help to keep this series as it had been. If you have any interest in being a part of making this series a regular part of your 2022, please fill out this form below and let me know how you could help.
For everyone else who just wants to read fun stories about fake football, just sit back and enjoy what is set to come!
Welcome back to Laramie City Lights.