It’s official: ESPN and the Horizon bone us again

In case you were unaware before, the Horizon League and ESPN decided that they were going to put two games to a vote as to which game would make it on ESPNU.

Last time, the vote was between Green Bay versus Cleveland State and Milwaukee versus Youngstown State.  As you know, the GB-CSU game won, forcing Milwaukee fans to watch their road game at Youngstown State on ESPN3.

Well, be prepared to watch the Horizon League match-up on February 10th against Detroit on ESPN3.com as well.

That’s because in a second vote, the Horizon League and ESPNU have decided to put the Green Bay at Wright State game on ESPNU over the Milwaukee at Detroit game.

In a short voting session on Facebook, the Panthers saw their second shot at a nationally-televised game evaporate before their eyes.  The final vote came back at 1,801 to 1,759, a mere 42 votes to decide a nationally-televised game.

Here is the full vote.

The Panthers will play at Detroit on ESPN3.com, their fourth such game this season.  The Youngstown State game, Northern Iowa, and Michigan State were all played on the internet.  Michigan State was on BTN.com, the pay website for the Big Ten Network.

So what should your reaction be to this news?  OUTRAGE.

The Horizon League and ESPN decided to put games up for a vote in the first place, which was ridiculous.  It’s one thing to try and get people interested in your brand through social networking, it’s another thing entirely to screw over universities in the process.

Put it this way.  Not only are fans in Washington D.C., Phoenix, Chicago and elsewhere (big pockets of Black and Gold) unable to see the Panthers play their game at Detroit, but so are recruits that the coaching staff are desperately trying to bring to Milwaukee.  With this move made by the Horizon League and ESPNU, the Panthers have effectively been shut out of national television.  Recruiting players in the area is nice – Time Warner Sports puts us in a decent percentage of southeast Wisconsin homes (although not nearly enough).

But we don’t recruit solely in southeast Wisconsin.  We recruit nationally.  And how are players from around the country supposed to see Milwaukee as a big-time mid-major program if they have to crowd around a computer screen to see our games?

It doesn’t even make sense.  Forty-two fans separate the winner and loser.  I don’t know if I’m mistaken, but I’m pretty sure many fans from every school in the conference don’t have Facebook.

In fact, I overheard a discussion in the minutes leading up to the Valpo game between two season-ticket holding fans. “Why are they putting it on Facebook? I don’t have Facebook!”

The truth is, Milwaukee just got screwed out of another game.  Despite averaging about 1,600 more fans per game than Green Bay, it is the Phoenix fan base that will be watching their team on the road at Wright State.

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