COLLEGE BOWLS ABC drops out of bidding war

The BCS has met with Fox and College Sports Television in recent weeks.
NEW YORK (AP) -- ABC has pulled its contract offer to the Bowl Championship Series, a move that could result in three of college football's biggest games moving to another network.
ABC has been the home of college football's four major bowls, including the national title game, since the current system was implemented in 1998.
Earlier this month, the BCS opened up the bidding for the broadcast rights to the Orange, Sugar and Fiesta bowls after being unable to come to an agreement with ABC during the exclusive negotiating period.
"We have taken our bid off the table," Loren Matthews, senior vice president for programming for ABC Sports told The Associated Press on Friday.
The national title game rotates between the Sugar, Orange, Fiesta and Rose bowls every four years under the BCS. The Rose Bowl negotiates its own TV deal and recently re-signed with ABC through 2014.
Through 2005
ABC has been paying about $25 million per year for the rights to the Fiesta, Sugar and Orange bowls. The current deal runs through the 2005 season.
BCS coordinator and Big 12 commissioner Kevin Weiberg said ABC is not out of the running to retain the BCS.
"Negotiations are proceeding for the television rights to the Bowl Championship Series model that has been developed," he said in a statement late Friday night. "ABC is one of the parties that is continuing to express interest in purchasing these rights; however, it is inappropriate to discuss any exchange of offers between the BCS and parties who have been involved in attempting to acquire the property."
Earlier this year, BCS officials voted to expand the BCS to five games in the 2006 season to give two more teams access. The championship game will be played at the site of one of the current BCS games.
"Certainly, it's not any dislike of the sport or the BCS. It just didn't make financial sense and didn't appear to us that it would, going forward under their new format, make financial sense," Matthews said.
"With the addition of this fifth game, frankly it's adding another game that just doesn't matter in the national championship race."
The BCS has met with Fox and College Sports Television in recent weeks.
Other options
"We've met with the BCS more than once," said Lou D'Ermilio, senior VP of media relations for Fox Sports. "Those meetings have included a free exchange of ideas. We feel the BCS is a great event, and it would fit well into our sports programming."
Matthews said even without the BCS, ABC would still broadcast the national title game once every four years when it is hosted by the Rose Bowl.
"It makes sure that we will be part of the national championship picture," Matthews said.
In years when the Rose Bowl doesn't host the national championship game, it's first priority is to host the Big Ten and Pac-10 champions, though those plans can get muddled when the winner of either of those leagues plays for the national title.
"We think if a second game effects the national championship, chances are it will be the Rose Bowl," Matthews said.
The Rose Bowl has consistently been the second-highest rated bowl game behind the national title game during the BCS era.
Matthews said regardless of whether the BCS changes its newly adopted format, ABC would be willing to consider making another deal with the BCS down the road.
The BCS was formed in 1998 when the Big Ten, Pac-10 and Rose Bowl joined with the now-defunct Bowl Alliance and college football's four other major conferences -- the Atlantic Coast Conference, Big East, Big 12 and Southeastern Conference.
Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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