Montana football

Facebook brings together football rivals to challenge ESPN

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Pigskin fever is invading social media like never before.

Mississippi State just announced that the Twitter hashtag #HAILSTATE—the school’s fight song—will be painted in its north endzone for its game against the University of Mississippi.

Now, people in Montana are flocking to Facebook to challenge ESPN’s football coverage.

On Monday, the sports network recently decided to air some college playoff games—including those for both the University of Montana and Montana State University—on its Internet-only channel, a site not widely available in Montana. Fans of the Grizzlies and Bobcats, respectively,  have cried loudly, even gaining a response from two U.S. senators and a congressman telling ESPN to air the games.

But perhaps the largest outcry of support has been on Facebook.

Soon after word got out about ESPN's decision not to televise games that they have the exclusive rights to, John Sterrett created a petition on the social network for both UM and MSU fans to join. What started off as a few hundred people on Monday evening has ballooned to thousands. As of Wednesday morning, more than 8,000 people had joined the event and another 48,000 people were invited. That’s five percent of the the state’s population (assuming that those invitees reside in Montana).  

The Facebook page has collected plenty of wall posts,  with some users suggesting to bombard the Facebook wall of ESPN and its affiliates, including EPSN Radio's Mike and Mike in Morning.

“Hey Guys! Help Montana out,” wrote Brad Olszewski. “FCS playoffs should be aired on TV.”

Even ESPN's own network profile was being flooded with messages about the matter.

“Two rival teams unite as one state saying WE ARE MONTANA and all we wanna do is be able to watch the teams we love, and support them every step of the way, is that to much to ask?” Chelleay Treichel wrote on ESPN's Facebook wall.

Photo by Justin Franz