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Liberty Bowl Move from Cable Is Huge

College Football News
Posted May 25, 2011

Memphis bowl game returning to its broadcast roots.

By: BE Coleman

AutoZone Liberty Bowl Executive Director Steve Ehrhart’s announcement that the 52 year old bowl game will leave ESPN for ABC is huge.

Exactly how big is the move? It is 16 million households big to move away from cable TV with a return to the antenna. It will be one of five total bowls available that does not require viewers to use the cable wire.

The bowl registry is a Who’s Who list of teams that have been paired off in the post season game that began in 1959 with Alabama and Penn State. Instead of asking who has played in the shadow of Beale Street, should read who hasn’t played there.

The Liberty Bowl once enjoyed the ABC signage hanging over the historic venue in Memphis, TN with fifteen consecutive games from 1966 to 1980. It began with a national airing by ABC in 1964, which brought the legendary personalities of Curt Gowdy and Jim McKay to announce the game.

The bowl games ratings have been high over the last decade. Pairing the Southeastern Conference eight seed against the Conference USA Champion has been a worthy network broadcast matchup.

“Some of those Liberty Bowls were on Monday nights, like it was part of the Monday Night Football package,” Ehrhart said. “Playing this year’s game on ABC on Saturday is like getting back to our bowl’s roots.”

Many viewers remember the voices of Keith Jackson and Chris Schenkel manning the broadcast booth for ABC. It was the only network that carried a weekly collegiate game during the 1970’s era.

Perhaps the only broadcast icon employed by ABC to not handle the duty was that of Howard Cosell. The 2011 AutoZone Liberty Bowl will be played on Saturday, December 31 at 2:30 p.m. CST.

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