No promises were made at the Rose Bowl this week during negotiations that ultimately led to the expansion of the college football playoffs to 12 teams for the 2024 and 2025 seasons, but the CFP said it recognizes the importance of the traditional New Year’s Day time slot of the Historic Bowl. , and the Rose Bowl will continue to push for that in the next contract.
“There was no intention to preclude early entry into the expanded playoffs,” said Laura Farber, chair of the Rose Bowl management committee. “During our negotiations, we originally requested an exclusive window around the historic timeslot of the Rose Bowl Game at 2:00 p.m. PT on January 1. Although we have waived this request, the Tournament of Roses will continue to work with the CFP Board of Managers on how we will fit into this CFP playoff rotation. We intend to keep the Rose Bowl game on Jan. 1, but will remain flexible on timings if necessary.”
The current 12-year contract runs through the 2025 season, and the Rose Bowl was the last organization to agree to what was expected to be a unanimous decision to expand the field before the deal expired. Farber said there was typical “back and forth” in the negotiations this week and “not the smoothest process”, but they were “extremely happy to have reached an agreement” with CFP’s Board of Directors.
“We look forward to working with them as the new system is implemented and developed, as this is still ongoing,” she said. “There are several steps that still need to be taken as the expanded playoff structure is still being finalized – not for 2025 and 2026 – but obviously in the future, and we look forward to being part of that process. It’s really premature to say what the expanded playoff schedule will look like. Nobody knows.”
The Rose Bowl will host the quarterfinals in 2024 and 2025 within its same historical time window and existing television contract. CFP executive director Bill Hancock said there hasn’t been much talk about the next contract, which starts in 2026, and that they “will approach all bowls on the same basis”, but he There is an appreciation for the traditional Rose Bowl window, which is one of the most lucrative of all sports.
“I would say it would be in everyone’s interest for any CFP that takes place at the Rose Bowl to start around 2 p.m. PT,” he said. “We know the quarter-finals of 24 and 25 will kick off at 2ish Pacific. I have to stress that nothing is in place, nothing is locked in, nothing is guaranteed for 2026 and beyond.”
This leaves the door open for future changes, including multiple broadcast partners in the next deal. ESPN is currently the sole rights holder of the CFP, which includes the quarter-finals, semi-finals and the championship in the new expanded format for 2024 and 2025. ESPN also has the first right to acquire the four additional games of the first turn during these two years. Hancock said ESPN has yet to let the playoffs know if that is their intention, as those discussions are yet to come.
In 2024 and 2025, the top ranked team will host the first round on campus. The New Year’s Six Bowl games will host the quarter-finals, semi-finals and the national championship. Hancock didn’t rule out the possibility of quarter-final home games, but declined to speculate.
“We’ll learn a lot in 24 and 25, there’s no doubt about that,” Hancock said. “I don’t want to speculate on what might change and what might not change. It’s way premature to get into that, but I know we’re going to learn a lot about our event in the first two years.”
The 12-team format, however, doesn’t seem to be changing anytime soon.
Less than two hours after the CFP announced its expansion, a reporter asked the CFP executive director when it will expand to 16 teams.
Hancock didn’t flinch, saying the 12-team format is “solid, solid, solid in the minds of the chairmen and commissioners,” he said. ” Solid. Did I say solid? »
“There was no conversation to change that,” he said. “I would be amazed if that were to change.”
Hancock said it was too early to speculate when the commissioners will have to determine the contract for 2026 and beyond.
“A lot of time and conversation has gone into the format that we have, that you are so familiar with, and that everyone is happy with,” he said. “We’re really not talking about 2026 yet.”
For the 2024 and 2025 seasons, the four quarter-final matches and the two semi-final matches will be played alternately. The 2024 quarterfinals will take place in the Fiesta Bowl, Peach Bowl, Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl, while the Cotton Bowl and Orange Bowl will host the semifinals. The 2025 quarterfinals will be held at the Cotton Bowl, Orange Bowl, Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl, while the Fiesta Bowl and Peach Bowl will host the semifinals.
The first round of the playoffs in 2024 will take place the week ending Saturday, December 21, either at the home of the top-ranked team or at another site designated by the top-ranked school. (#12 to #5, #11 to #6, #10 to #7 and #9 to #8.)
Hancock said there is no timeline to make a decision on specific dates of games to be played, but they are aware that the CFP will likely compete with the NFL for viewership.
“We will do this in conjunction with the television rights holder,” he said. “It’s our plan, it’s to play at the weekend [of Dec. 21], but I can’t really speculate when we’ll get there. These games are in what, in two years and a month? For one thing, that’s not a lot of time to prepare for a new event. In the other direction, it’s a lot of time to decide things like game dates.”
Hancock said he thinks the 12-team format will make the regular season more important, especially in November, because there will be more teams in the conversation for the playoffs.
“College football is certainly very healthy,” Hancock said. “Look at the audience. Look at the number of people in the stands. I think this 12-team tournament will only improve that. When people ask me about 12, what is it at About 12? For me, it’s one word: participation: More student-athletes will have the chance to compete for the national championship.”