Title - NCAA Football 2002
Platform - PlayStation 2TM
Version - 1.1
Author - "DTheaterFan" Greg Necastro
E-mail - gnecastro@yahoo.com
Updated - December 10th, 2001

Table of Contents

i. Legalese
ii. Revision history
iii. Acknowledgements
1. Introduction
2. Getting Started
3. Who's Leaving?
4. Time to Recruit.
5. Training
6. Cut Day
7. Redshirts
8. Depth Chart
9. Game Time


i. The legal stuff

This guide appears on these websites:

www.gamefaqs.com
www.psxcodez.com


If anyone finds it on any other site please inform me ASAP.

E-Mail Address: gnecastro@yahoo.com

Copyright:
(c) Copyright 2001 Greg Necastro.

This document is protected by US Copyright Law and the Berne Copyright
Convention of 1976. It is for private and personal use only -- it cannot be
reprinted in part or in whole, or reproduced in any way or in any form (written
or otherwise). It is a free document that cannot be used in any sort of
commercial transaction, including selling it or giving it away as a gift.  This
Guide cannot be referenced, altered, or used by anybody (including web masters,
publishers, and magazine staff) without my express written permission.


ii. Revision History

12/10/01 - 1.1 Spelling and some additional advice.
09/05/01 - 1.0 The initial version.

iii.  Acknowledgements

I created this guide after spending a lot of times on the gamefaqs message
board looking for help and seeing that many people were in my same position. 
My hope is that everyone who reads this will find something that will benefit
them in their enjoyment of NCAA Football 2002.  I initially created this guide
by myself, but I would be amiss if I didn't acknowledge some of the gamefaq
regulars who have shared their knowledge and ideas with me.  Specific thanks
to: XainRaider, BoomerSchooner, electrickoolaid, DOAsaturn, OregonStateFan31,
and olemissfan2.  General thanks to those I didn't mention by name.

1. Introduction

The off-season in NCAA Football 2002 is the game within the game.  Sure, it's
fun to play against your friends.  Yeah, it's cool to take a team to a national
title in season mode.  But, playing in dynasty mode gives you the full
capabilities of the game.  Unlike the pros, colleges lose players every year. 
There are no negotiations.  No money to offer to stay (not in this game).  When
a player graduates or decides to leave early, all the coach can do is hope to
replace him.

This is what makes the replay factor of this game almost infinite.  Every four
years, you will enter a league with completely different players.  No two
seasons are ever alike.  Maybe the big schools will never fall far and the
little ones never quite make it to the top, but isn't that reality?  After all,
Notre Dame is still a top recruiting school, despite recent less than stellar
seasons.  SMU never recovered from their death penalty and may stay in
mediocrity for years to come.  But, when it's your dynasty, anything can
happen.  You can be the one that turns a small program into a national
powerhouse.  For example, Boise State is best known as the team with the blue
turf.  But, in the little world of my dynasty, they are known as the National
Champs.

In preparing this guide, I hope to accomplish two things.  Most importantly, I
hope that you will be able to take the information here and be able to
understand and successfully complete the off-season schedule.  The manual that
comes with the game doesn't provide much information.  Secondly, using my
experience, the GameFAQ's message board, and the suggestions and ideas of
others, I will try to provide some helpful strategies to using the off-season
to make the best possible team you can.  Hopefully, as you go through a few
off-seasons, you will find a winning strategy that you wish to share and have
included in this guide.  Please look at the acknowledgements section for
contact info.

2. Getting Started

So, the season is over.  A national champion was crowned.  Was it you?  Or are
you one of the other 143 teams that are looking to pursue the title next
season.  No matter how your season ended, you now have to enter the off-season.
 It's time to replace those players that are leaving and look for those key
players that can lead your team to success in the coming season.

After the last week of bowl games, you will be prompted to enter off-season. 
Once you do, you will not be able to see any information on the just completed
season.  So, you may want to say no at the moment and look at the final Top 25
and see who won all the bowl games.  Most importantly, if you want to leave and
go to another team, you must do it before you enter the off-season.  To leave a
team, go to coaching options and resign from the team.  Or, if your contract
has expired, you can choose not to renew (if they offer).  After you resign,
you can then select from a list of teams that are willing to hire you as their
new coach.

One thing that is helpful is to do a final look at the stats for each player
you have.  Here's why.  Say you have two Junior SS's.  One is your starter and
the other has never played.  You also have a Freshman you recruited last
season.  When you get to the off-season, you will note that you have 3 SS's, so
maybe you won't pursue another.  However, why keep a guy who's never played
when you could possibly get a great player who can become your new starter. 
The point is, I look at any junior or senior who has never played as cut
material.  Why bother to use them for one season if I can get a solid recruit
to start as a Freshman?

Now that you've decided where you're coaching next year and looked at all the
stats you wanted to, it's time to move on.  From the dynasty menu, select play
next week and you will be prompted to begin the off-season.  Select yes and
here we go.

You are now at the off-season menu, which is a little different from the season
menu.  The first option is the off-season schedule.  Select this one and you
will see a menu of seven steps that are involved in the off-season, each is
addressed, in order, in the following sections.  This is the screen you use to
progress through the off-season (like the play week during the season). 
Off-Season Recap can be selected after the recruiting is completed to see what
players were drafted for each team and see who had the best recruiting class. 
The rest of the menu should look familiar.  To complete the off-season, the
Off-Season Schedule is the option you want to choose.  Select the schedule and
go to the off-season list.

3. Who's Leaving?

First item on the list is to see who is leaving.  Of course, all your seniors
are gone.  If you had a few stellar under classman in the past year, they may
leave as well.

The thing to note here is which positions you are losing.  It's not a bad idea
to write down the positions of the leaving players.  There are minimum
requirements and maximum roster sizes (explained later) you will have to
contend with.  You don't want to get caught short in one position and have too
many in another.  Unlike real life, you cannot move players to different
positions.  So, you can't recruit six cornerbacks with the desire to convert
two to wide receiver and one to free safety.

When you're done looking at your leaving players (and crying over the 2000
rushing yards Sophomore halfback who decided to go pro), it's time to move on. 
Press triangle and go back to the off-season schedule.  Now select Recruit
Players and press X.  You will be prompted that moving to this step will
complete all previous steps.  Choose OK.  Note:  Going to the next item is how
you complete the previous one.  You will always get the warning prompt.  As
long as you go step by step, there is nothing to worry about.  But, make sure
you don't skip a step.  For example, if after cutting players, you select set
depth chart, you will skip redshirting and not be allowed to go back.

4. Time to Recruit.

Enter recruiting and you are presented with a map of the US in front of you. 
You will notice that your school's home state is highlighted.  From this
screen, you have a few options.  The most important screen (actually, an
overlay) for recruiting can be accessed here (and in several other places
mentioned later) by pressing and holding the circle button.  If you let go of
the button, the screen overlay goes away.  This brings up a roster overview. 
You will see a listing of each position: QB, HB, FB, WR, TE, T, G, C, DE, DT,
MLB, OLB, CB, FS, SS, K, and P.  The next four columns will show you how many
players you have at each position, broken down by year (FR - Freshman, SO -
Sophomore, JR - Junior, SR - Senior).  In the next column is the total number
of players you have for that position.  The year of the player relates to their
eligibility.  Your seniors have one more year.  Your freshmen are all redshirts
from the previous season.  Obviously, if you are recruiting in the off-season,
you don't have any true freshmen on the roster.  The new recruits will be
freshman.  Remember that the grade classification is strictly related to
athletic eligibility.  A redshirt sophomore is a player who has used one year
of his eligibility.  (In academia, he could be a freshman, sophomore, or
junior, but that doesn't apply to the game and would make things really
confusing.)

Note at the bottom of the screen are the total number of players by grade.  The
thing to remember is the total number of players you have.  Each recruiting
year, you may offer 25 scholarships.  But, you can only have 55 players on your
roster.  So, if you have 44 players returning from last season and recruit 20
new players, you will have a total of 64 players and will have to eventually
cut 9 players to make the roster limit.  Will get into that later.

One of the things I have found helpful is to create a chart similar to the
overlay.  It saves time from going back and forth and helps you see what you
have while your on screens where the overlay is not accessible.  Also, I like
to note where I have players who have not played.  I consider those spots open,
especially if I find a blue chipper interested in playing.

To the right of the total column are the lists of committed players, offered
players, and needed players.  Committed players are the number of recruits who
are coming to your school.  Offered players are ones that you are actively
recruiting and have made a scholarship offer to.  These players have not
committed to a school yet, so you have to decide if you want to continue to
pursue them.  The needed players column, on the far right, indicates when you
have to get players for a position.  NCAA does not provide a list of the actual
minimums you need.  My guess is that you would need the minimum number to play
a game ( 2 - QB, 2 - OT, 1 - K, etc.)  If there is a number in this column,
make sure you pursue a player for that position.  If you do not fill the
position with a recruit, you will receive a walk-on player after the recruiting
is completed.  Walk-ons are generally low skilled players and you will not be
able to cut them if they are the only player for that position.

At the bottom right of the screen is the number of available scholarships.  You
start with 25.  Every time you select a player to recruit, this number
decreases by one.  Therefore, you cannot try to recruit more players than you
have scholarships for.  If a player commits to another school or you withdraw
your offer, the available scholarship total goes up by one.  If the player
commits, that scholarship is unavailable for the rest of recruiting.  Once a
player commits, you cannot withdraw your offer.

Releasing the circle button gets you back to the main recruiting screen.

The next thing to do is press the x button to call up the report menu.  There
are several reports you can look at to help you in recruiting.  The information
they contain is identical, but presented in a variety of useful ways.  Here's a
listing of the reports:

State recruits - These are the prospects from your team's home state. 
Generally, colleges recruit a majority of players from their home state.  Very
prestigious schools, like Miami, Notre Dame, and Nebraska are very successful
recruiting anywhere in the country.  But, if you have a lower prestige school,
you will have more success at finding willing recruits in your home state.

Current targets - These are the players you are currently pursing by visiting
them.  At first, this list is empty until you select at least one player to
recruit.  As the weeks progress, you will be able to see which players have
committed to your school, committed to another school, or are still undecided.

Top 100 - These are the blue chippers for the year.  The players here are 5
star caliber and are the most highly sought players.  If you look towards the
top of the screen next to the player's name, you will see a blue diamond
symbol.

All Prospects - Anyone and everyone who you can recruit.

Interested - These are players that have placed your school in their top 3
choices.  These aren't the only players who may have a high interest in coming
to your school, just the ones that have you in the top 3.  This list will
change as the weeks go by.  In this menu, all players will be in red.  Red
indicates a player that has you in their top 3 choices.  This is true in every
report.

All of these reports have the same layout and present the same information. 
How you want to pursue your recruiting is up to you.  In this next section, I
am going to explain how to read the information and attempt to recruit a
player.  Then, I will give an example of how I do it.

So, let's select the top 100 report.  Here's the list of the 100 high school
studs that are ready to become the big man on someone's campus.  On this list,
you will see their rank, name, position, caliber, and top three schools.  Now,
the first player should be highlighted.  Press the select button to get to the
detail screen.  This screen gives you all the information you will need.

At the top left, is the player's name.  Below his name is his interest level in
your school.  It can be very low, low, average, high, or very high.  This is
the first thing to look at.  A player with low or very low interest is not
coming to your school.  Average interest is a long shot at best.  High and very
high interests are the players you should consider pursing, as they are your
best chances.  The important of the interest level cannot be understated.  You
will find players that have a very high interest in your school, but do not
list you in their top three (all players who list you as a top 3 have very high
interest levels).

In the top right you get several pieces of information.  Position and type of
player is at the top.  For example, you may see a QB - Pocket Passer, which
indicates a quarterback who is best at straight passing and will not do as well
when having to scramble.  There are many types of players here.  These are the
indicators I have seen:

All players:

Balanced - A balanced player with equal skills at different aspects of his
position.

Quarterbacks only:

Pocket passer - Your basic sit back and throw guy.
Scrambler - Likes to move and make things happen.  Good prospect for the
option.

All offensive backs:

Speed - Fast runner, generally not much strength.
Possession - Holds on to the ball.  Makes the catches.
Blocker - Better at being a blocker than running with the ball.

Offensive lineman:

Run blocker - Better at blocking on running plays.
Pass blocker - Better at blocking on passing plays.

Defensive lineman:

Pass rusher - More skilled at rushing the quarterback.
Run stopper - More skilled at stopping the run.

Linebackers and defensive backs:

Run stopper - More skilled at stopping the run.
Coverage - More skilled at covering receivers on pass plays.

Kickers and punters:

?

Below the player type, you will see the player's hometown, his rank by
position, caliber, and top three schools.  So, let's say the first player in
the top 100 is a quarterback, you will see his rank is 1 - QB.  This means he
is the number one ranked quarterback in the country.  This lets you know how a
player ranks at his position.  So, there may be a center that is ranked number
36 on the top 100, but he is the number one center.  This may make him more
desirable to recruit than a tight end at number 35 who is the number 7 tight
end.  That means there are six better tight ends than him available.

Moving on, in the middle of the screen you will see the stats on the player: 
Height, weight, 40 time, vertical leap, hands (how well a person can catch and
hold on to the ball), bench press, and squat.  Each of these statistics is
designed to help you evaluate a player.  The important thing is to use the
stats that are necessary.  For example, if you are recruiting an offensive
lineman, you probably aren't too interested in his 40 time, vertical leap, and
hands.  But, his strength on the bench press and squat rack are very important.
 Consequently, it is more important to have a safety that ran a 4.3 forty than
one who can bench press 400 pounds.

For quarterbacks, instead of hands you will see arm strength and accuracy. 
This is how well a player can throw the ball and how accurate he is.  Top
ratings are a strength of cannon and an accuracy of pinpoint.  For kickers and
punters, you will also see rating for strength and accuracy related to their
kicking skills instead of hands.

Currently, the bottom of the screen will be blank.  This is where coaches'
comments will appear once you start recruiting a player.  They will provide you
updates on the player.  Things like if he performs better or worse than
expected, does he have room to grow, is he interested in your school.  Every
week you recruit a player, comments will be added.

After looking over the information of a player, you can use the up and down
arrow to scroll to the next player in the list.  Or, you can press select to
get back to the report list.  For the example, press select to go back to the
report.

Let's say that the player we just looked at was interested in your school and
you want to try and recruit him.  Pressing x brings up the recruiting submenu. 
For each player, you have four options of recruiting.  You can do one or all
four of them.  Each option cost a certain amount of points.  The more points
you spend, the better you chances are.  The options are:

Visit by head coach (8 points)
Visit by assistant coach (4 points)
Call by head coach (2 points)
Call by assistant coach (1 point)

Below the recruiting options, there is the balance of how many recruiting
points you have remaining.  Points are given based on your performance in the
past year.  The better you and your team does, the more points you get.  As you
select recruiting options for a player, your available points are deducted by
that amount.  You start with the same total every week, so use them all. 
Highlight your choice and press x to select (pressing x again will deselect). 
Underneath the options are three choices.  Continue, which accepts your choices
and goes back to the report menu.  Withdraw offer, which removes this player
from your current target list and returns one scholarship to the available
total.  Cancel takes you back to the report menu and disregards any changes you
made.  When you are sure you want to recruit a player, make your choices and
select continue.  You will be taken back to the report menu and you will notice
that the player is now listed in green.  Green indicates players you are
pursing.

And, that is the mechanics of recruiting a player.  You would continue to do
this until you have used up all of your recruiting points or have no more
available scholarships to offer.  At any of the report menus, you can press
(and hold) the circle button to see the roster overlay.  As you recruit
players, you will see numbers fill up the active column (2nd from the right)
and your number of available scholarships reduced accordingly.

After you have made all your choices for the week, press the triangle button to
get back to the main recruiting screen (the one with the US map on it).  Press
the start button to begin recruiting.  You will be given the option to advance
one week, advance through all the recruiting, or cancel.  You will want to
select advance one week.  The game will then take a couple of minutes
(surprisingly fast actually) to process all the information for the week.

Now, you are at the beginning of week 2 and it starts all over again.  First
thing to do is to press the circle button.  You can now see how many players
have committed indicated by a number in the commit column.  Also, you can see
if players have signed with other schools.  Here's how.  Let's say you have
recruited 25 players.  So, your available scholarships are 0.  At the start of
week 2, you have 4 players commit to your school, but you also have 3 available
scholarships.  Those available scholarships are for players you recruited who
signed with another school.  Any player you recruited who has not committed to
any school will still be listed under the offered column and holds one of the
available scholarships.  So, in this example you have 4 scholarships committed
to players, 18 scholarships for players you are still pursing, and 3
scholarships that have not been offered.

At this point, you repeat the recruiting process.  You can look at the current
target report to see the status of your recruits.  Pressing select will show
you the observations the coaches have made from the previous week.  Players who
are now listed in gray have committed.  In place of the top three schools, you
will see the school they committed to.

Okay, this is how I do it.  I'm not saying it is the best or most efficient,
but it's a good way to bring the whole thing together.  I start by going to the
top 100 list.  On the first player, I press select and look at his interest.  I
am looking for high or very high interest.  If this player is not interested I
will scroll down through the list.  Any player in the top 100 who has interest,
I will recruit whether I need them or not.

Next, I go to the all prospects list.  At this list, you can use the L1 and R1
button to filter the players by position.  I will go through each position and
look for players with 3 or more stars who are interested and recruit them. 
Here, I try to prioritize by need.  If I have 4 tight ends and a 4 star recruit
is interested, I may pass on him for a 3 star MLB if I don't have any and he is
the best option I have.

I will usually go though this list a couple of times trying to fill out my
roster.  I will also glance at the interested list to see if there is anybody I
missed.  Every week, I go through this process because player interest can
change.  I usually don't go back to the top 100 list.  I will start with the
current target list and use more recruiting points on players I haven't signed.
 Keep in mind that you have to allocate points to a player each week.  They
don't default to your previous selection.  Then I will go looking for more
players to replace the ones that have chosen different schools.  As you start
to gain commitments, you can allocate more points to the remaining recruits.

The fifth week of recruiting is signing day.  There is no more recruiting to be
done, but you can review the various reports to see whom you signed and who got
away.  Also, it's time to note what you have.  Press the circle button to see
the roster overlay.  Take the number of returning players and add it to the
number of commitments you have.  Remember, you can only have 55 players, so how
ever many you have over; you will have to make cuts for later.  Once you are
finished, press the triangle button to get back to the off-season menu.

At this point you can look at the off-season recap to see how you class rated
in recruiting compared to the other schools.  Also, time wise you are half way
through with the off-season.  The rest moves rather quickly.


5. Training

Go back to the off-season schedule and select training.  This will close the
recruiting process, but you were done anyway.  Training is a time where your
players can improve their skills.  This is all handled by the game. 
Afterwards, you can review a report to see in what areas a player has improved.

6. Cut Day

After training is complete, it's time to trim the fat.  Select cut players from
the off-season schedule list to begin the process.  You will then be brought to
a listing of your team players.  You can sort by position using L1 and R1 to
determine who will go.  You will see the attributes of the player to help you
make your decision.

Here's one piece of advice for cutting.  You are playing a game.  Loyalty means
nothing.  You may have a returning senior at HB who has lead your team in
rushing for the past three years.  But, if you recruited two freshman that are
faster, stronger, and have better hands than him, cut the guy.  Cutting players
have no effect on your prestige or the schools.  Also, this is why I make notes
of players who haven't played.  I will cut them first because I'm not losing
anything.  So, keep the most useful 55 players you have.

Once you've made all the cuts, press triangle to get back to the schedule.  If
you have too many players, you will receive a message that more players need to
be cut.  The computer will offer to do it for you, but I would pass on that
option.  No idea how the game determines who to cut.

7. Redshirts

Now that you have your roster, you can determine whom to redshirt. 
Redshirtting a player means that the player will be inactive for the year but
will not lose a year of eligibility.  So, if you have a senior quarterback who
is going to lead your team in the upcoming year, you can redshirt the kid you
just signed and be able to use him for a full four years beginning the
following season.

Unlike reality, you can redshirt any player who has not been redshirted. 
Players with a (RS) next to their grade have already been redshirted once and
cannot be selected.  Using the same roster screen you are used to by now,
select the player you want to redshirt and press x.  This will place a redshirt
icon next to the player's name.    When you are done, press triangle to exit.

8. Depth Chart

Now you are at the final step.  It's time to decide who is playing.  Again
using the same screens you've seen countless times, you can select your
starters and backups for each position.  Use the L1 and R1 buttons to scroll
through the positions.  Pressing up and down on the d-pad will highlight the
players in the depth chart.  Pressing x will select that player and bring you
to the lower list.  Here you can pick which player to place in that slot and
press x to place him in that slot.

One thing I've noticed is that the computer tends to rank players by their
overall rating.  Most noticeably with linebackers.  I've often found that I
have a middle linebacker not in the starting lineup because the right outside
linebacker has a better overall rating.  It's up to you if want to leave things
this way.  Just make sure you check all the positions.  The default choices
aren't always the best.

Also, make sure you do not select a redshirt player.  If you put a redshirted
player on the depth chart, he will lose his redshirt status whether or not he
plays in a game.

During the season, you can change your depth chart at any time.

9. Game Time

Whew.  You made it.  The off-season is done.  The last thing to do is select
the start next season button.  This will generate the new schedule and you now
begin your new quest for championship glory.