FILE PHOTO: CHRIS GRIVAS/THE HOYA Senior wide receiver Max Waizenegger (3) has had five receptions for 55 yards so far this season.
Senior wide receiver Max Waizenegger (3) has had five receptions for 55 yards so far this season.

Due to Georgetown football’s relative obscurity in comparison with the world-famous men’s basketball team, those unfamiliar with the Hilltop often assume the school has no gridiron presence. That’ll change tonight — for some cable subscribers, at least.

The Blue and Gray’s (2-1) game at Princeton (0-1) tonight will be broadcast on ESPNU, marking the first time in history that a Georgetown football game has garnered national television coverage.

Many factors could have inspired ESPN execs to cover the game. Was it the Hoyas’ meteoric rise from 0-11 to Patriot League runners-up in just three years? The Patriot League’s decision to allow athletic scholarships, prompting Georgetown to schedule more Ivy League schools? Maybe even the Hoyas’ thrilling 24-21 loss to Yale last weekend?
As it turns out, the answer is far less exciting.

According to Georgetown athletic department spokesmen, the game is being televised because Princeton has a TV deal with ESPNU, and scheduling happened to work out in the Hoyas’ favor.

Still, the game marks an important milestone for a group of Georgetown seniors who weathered the depressing 2009 season — when the team went winless — and have helped the program reach its current place as one of the best in the Patriot League.

“I’m excited for our players … especially the seniors. They were here when the times were very, very tough,” Head Coach Kevin Kelly said. “They had the courage to stay with the program, and now they’re reaping the benefits of their hard work.”

Because the Blue and Gray usually appear on only local TV — if at all — the broadcast will offer an opportunity for some relatives and friends of Georgetown players to watch the team for the first time.

“Every one of my friends from back home … they all know we’re going to be on ESPN. My entire family, too,” senior wide receiver Max Waizenegger said. “It’s going to be unbelievable.”

Joe Beninati, whom some will recognize as the voice of the Washington Capitals on CSN Washington, will be the play-by-play man for ESPNU tonight. Rene Ingoglia, a former UMass running back who had brief stints with the Bills and Redskins from 1996 to 1998, will provide color commentary.

The Hoya caught up with Ingoglia this week to discuss the state of Georgetown football, and it was clear that the man had done his homework.

“I’m really looking forward to watching him play. He looks like an excellent linebacker,” Ingoglia said of senior Robert McCabe, who leads the Patriot League with 46 total tackles. “The offensive line, as well, stuck out to me. … I’m a former running back, so I always get excited to see a good, big offensive line.”

Although this will be the first time he has covered a college team in its first national TV appearance — ESPN usually has him covering higher-profile Atlantic Coast Conference games — Ingoglia seems to have a good idea of the game’s significance for Georgetown.

“They don’t often get a chance to play on national TV, so this is their time to shine,” he said of the Hoyas. “I want to give them the best that I’ve got.”

If Ingoglia backs up his words tonight, Georgetown fans should expect a fairly entertaining broadcast.

“I’m a high-energy analyst, if anything,” Ingoglia said. “The producers are sometimes in my ear, saying, ‘OK, take a deep breath.’”

Students and fans with a cable package that includes ESPNU can tune in to watch the Hoyas — as well as high-octane Ingoglia and studio partner Beninati — live tonight at 7 p.m.

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