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ABC Drops Out of BCS Bidding

November 20, 2004|Larry Stewart | Times Staff Writer

ABC, which has the Rose Bowl locked up through 2014, apparently has decided it doesn't need the three other bowl championship series games.

The network, which has broadcast the BCS package since 1998 and was in the midst of negotiating to continue televising the Fiesta, Orange and Sugar bowls, announced Friday it had withdrawn its offer.

ABC's contract for those three games expires after the games of January 2006.

Fox is considered the front-runner to pick up the three games. CSTV, the college sports network, also is in the running.

ABC has been paying $25 million a game for the Fiesta, Orange and Sugar bowls. The bid ABC took off the table was about $17 million a game.

In August, ABC and the Rose Bowl reached an agreement on an eight-year extension for about $30 million a game.

Two months earlier, the BCS had announced a new format, under which an additional bowl game, the BCS championship game, would be played one week after the four other BCS bowls. The new format, scheduled to go into effect after the 2006 regular season, calls for the teams in the championship game to be determined before the other bowls are played. ABC wanted the teams to be determined after the other bowls were played.

"Fiscal, format and Rose Bowl," said Loren Mathews, senior vice president of programming for ABC Sports. "That sort of sums it up for us.

"We could have lived with the format, had they come up with a price we could have lived with. But the way we look at it, we still are involved in the BCS because we have the Rose Bowl, which traditionally is the second-highest-rated bowl game, behind the championship game."

Kevin Weiberg, the BCS coordinator, said negotiations were proceeding, and that Friday's announcement did not mean ABC was out of the running.

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