SBD/24/Collegiate Sports

COLLEGE FOOTBALL GOES FOR WIN: ABC INKS PACT ON TITLE GAME

     ABC Sports announced a seven-year deal between the Rose
Bowl, which hosts the Pac-10 and Big Ten champions, and the Bowl
Alliance paving the way for a national college football title
game to be held on a rotating basis.  The three other bowls have
yet to be determined, but multiple media reports this morning
speculate the Fiesta, Orange and Sugar Bowls will remain in the
Alliance.  Reports put the price of the deal in the $500M range
(THE DAILY).
     DETAILS:  The deal means major college football will have a
championship game, "rather than relying on a final poll to
determine the best team," according to Randy Covitz of the K.C.
STAR.  It will start with the '98 season, although the site of
the first title game is T.B.A.  The Rose Bowl will host the game
that follows the 2001 season.  The three current Alliance bowls
will have an exclusive 60-day negotiating period to become part
of a the new arrangement.  ABC Sports will televise all four
Alliance bowls among the top eight teams (K.C. STAR, 7/24).  The
four games will be made up from a pool of eight teams:  Champions
from the ACC, Big East, SEC, Big 10, Big 12, and Pac 10, Dame and
an at-large team (NEWSDAY, 7/24).  To be worked out:  A system to
determine the No. 1 and 2 teams that will play for the title
(Herb Gould, CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 7/24).
     MONEY MATTERS:  USA TODAY's Michael Hiestand reports ABC
will pay more than $500M over seven years to air the four games.
Total TV rights fees for those games will increase about 8% to a
$71.4M annual average.  Alliance bowl payouts are expected to
increase from $8.5M per team to over $10M (USA TODAY, 7/24).  The
WALL STREET JOURNAL's Fatsis & Jensen note ABC's package
"amounts" to nearly $18M a game in rights payments.  ABC
reportedly offered $339M for the four top games, but was forced
higher by CBS, which has deals with the other Alliance bowls.
The deal should allow "for bigger sponsorship and advertising
payouts, particularly for the top game" (WALL STREET JOURNAL,
7/24).  NEWSDAY's Ivan Maisel notes ABC will pay about $18M to
the Rose Bowl and approximately $55M per year for the three other
games (NEWSDAY, 7/24).  In K.C., Randy Covitz notes pressure from
the Big Ten and Pac-10 on the Rose Bowl to join, as the last two
Rose Bowls have dropped in ratings.  The Alliance can end the
deal after four years (K.C. STAR, 7/24).
     BLACK ROCK TAKES A HIT:  CBS Sports President David Kenin
said CBS was "prepared for this turn of events."  Kenin:
"Naturally, we would have liked to participate as broadcasters"
(CBS Sports).  In Boston, Michael Vega calls it "a huge blow to
CBS" (BOSTON GLOBE, 7/24).  A "window" in the Alliance's original
deal had enabled the negotiations, as ABC Sports VP/Programming
Tony Petitti noted the Alliance "had the right not to extend the
agreement" past '97 if there was "an opportunity to expand."
Petitti:  "That, in essence, is what happened" (NEWSDAY, 7/24).
In Miami, Susan Miller Degnan calls CBS the "loser," as they paid
$82M over six years for Orange Bowl rights.  CBS Sports' Leslie
Anne Wade:  "When we got involved we knew the possible entering
of the Rose Bowl would change the landscape" (MIAMI HERALD,
7/24).  USA TODAY's Hiestand notes, without the NFL, college
football was to be a "mainstay" for CBS.  Sean McManus of IMG,
which represents the Orange and Sugar Bowls, lauded ABC's move as
"very aggressive pre-emptive strike. ... They identified a
franchise they wanted to dominate" (USA TODAY, 7/24).  In new
York, Richard Sandomir notes that CBS "worked feverishly" to
persuade the Alliance not to "link with the Rose Bowl and had
made a seven-year financial offer to retain the current set-up"
(N.Y. TIMES, 7/24).
     REACTION:  Michigan State Coach Nick Saban called the deal
"very healthy" for college football.  The deal met with unanimous
approval from Big Ten presidents (Angelique Chengelis, DETROIT
NEWS, 7/24).  Orange Bowl Exec Dir Keith Dribble: "We hope to be
part of the new Alliance" (MIAMI HERALD, 7/24). Sugar Bowl Dir
Paul Hoolahan, on staying with the Alliance:  "There's no doubt
we'll stay in" (USA TODAY, 7/24).  WAC Commissioner Karl Benson:
"This continues to separate the haves from the have-nots in
college football" (Wendell Barnhouse, FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM,
7/24).  In K.C., columnist Jonathan Rand notes a title game won't
make football similar to "March Madness," as "most bowl games
will still serve as little more than background noise for holiday
get togethers" (K.C. STAR, 7/24).  Northwestern AD Rick Taylor:
"We were all against having the NFL playoff-type format" (CHICAGO
SUN-TIMES, 7/24).
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