The granddaddy of them all is lining up.
The Rose Bowl, after months of delay, has agreed to amend his contract to pave the way for a two-year expansion of the College Football Playoff, sources say. Sports Illustrated. The CFP is expected to announce soon that the Playoff will expand from four to 12 teams starting in the 2024 season.
While there are still logistical hurdles to overcome, the delay of the bowling alley posed the biggest hurdle in the initial expansion. In multiple proposals to CFP officials, the Rose Bowl, the oldest active operating bowl, requested guarantees to maintain its traditional date and time in future iterations of the Playoffs, something the CFP executive board denied. Few, if any, guarantees can be made for the Playoff beyond 2025 because there is no contract.
Several weeks ago, the CFP gave the Rose Bowl a month-end deadline to decide its own fate, SI reported Monday. In many ways, the Rose Bowl was holding the CFP hostage, at the risk of its own participation in future Playoffs.
La Rosa was in a position to single-handedly delay the expansion of the Playoffs. CFP officials needed a unanimous agreement from all six CFP Bowls to expand the Playoff to 12 teams before ESPN’s contract ends after the 2025 Playoff. Five of the six Bowls (Sugar, Orange, Fiesta, Peach and Cotton ) supported modifying the contract to expand ahead of time.
The Rose could have cost college football the additional $450 million in revenue from an expanded postseason in 2024 and 2025, as well as 16 additional postseason berths. The decision to delay further may have torpedoed his legacy and disrupted any goodwill with the high-ranking decision-makers of the Playoffs.
The decision launches the sport into a historic moment. For the first time in major college football history, a lengthy playoff will decide the champion.
More than two months ago, CFP executives unanimously approved an expanded 12-team Playoff to begin no later than 2026, the first year of what would be a new CFP contract featuring all six bowls and a broadcast partner or partners. . The format is as follows: (1) the top six ranked champions get automatic slots; (2) the next six highest ranked teams earn overall placements; (3) byes go to the top four conference champions; and (4) the first round games are played in the home stadium of the highest seed, with the quarterfinals and semifinals being played in a six-bowl rotation.
FBS’s 10 commissioners, as well as Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick, have spent the past few weeks focusing not on 2026 and beyond, but on expanding in 2024 or 25. With each meeting, the commissioners have resolved a large number of of problems, most notably the scheduling of eight additional playoff games, the revenue distribution model and the logistics of hosting the first round on campus.
Commissioners have set tentative dates for the four rounds of the expanded PIC, but nothing is concrete.
– The first round will be played the third week of December, probably starting on Friday and Saturday.
– The CFP quarterfinals are scheduled for New Year’s Day, with three quarterfinals likely on New Year’s Day and one quarterfinal on New Year’s Eve or January 2.
– The semifinals are scheduled for a week later, depending on the year. In 2024, it would be the weekend of January 10-12. Due to the NFL playoff games that weekend, Thursday and Friday might be the best options.
– The championship game is expected to be pushed back a week or two from its original schedule and held on Monday.
Future iterations of the Playoff, starting in 2026, will likely look different, not in format but in schedule. There are serious discussions about the entire regular season schedule moving up a week, turning Week 0 into Week 1, and sliding December conference championship weekend to Thanksgiving weekend. That would also move the rivalry weekend one more week. It provides more flexibility for such a tight December window while ensuring the sport doesn’t go too deep in January.
Rose’s decision ends an 18-month process filled with pettiness, frustration and animosity between a group of FBS commissioners who couldn’t agree on a format. The problems were so severe that their bosses, the FBS presidents, took control of the expansion and approved a plan on September 2 to take effect no later than 2026. They encouraged the commissioners to explore the expansion by the 24th. .
The impacts of an extended Playoff are very broad. Perhaps most importantly, the expansion in those two years brings a combined 16 new opportunities in a sport that has struggled to establish parity. The playoff era has been marked by a parade of the same teams from the same leagues advancing to the postseason.
For example, over the eight years of the CFP era, six teams have held 25 of the 32 playoff spots (78%). Last year, three of the five power conferences were not represented in the Playoffs, the second time that has happened in the CFP’s eight years. The Pac-12 and Big 12 combined to qualify six teams for the eight Playoffs, the same number as the Big Ten. The SEC has rated 10 and the ACC eight.
The expansion doesn’t solve a decades-long parity problem in the sport, but it’s expected to at least create bigger end-of-season matchups for more shows. Even at the end of November, up to 30 teams could be alive to make it to the field. Take this year. There are no more than six teams with a realistic chance of advancing to the Playoffs heading into the final weekend. In a 12-team edition, that number would increase to more than 20.
“If there were more teams in the mix, it would be a good thing overall for college football,” Bob Bowlsby, the former Big 12 commissioner who helped create the 12-team model, said in January. “We don’t need the same equipment all the time. Interest in the event at the national level decreases.
The college football postseason will now more closely mirror other NCAA sports. A four-team Playoff incorporates only about 3% of college football teams. Most NCAA postseason camps include at least 10% of the total teams from a sport, such as basketball, baseball, and softball.
The Rose Bowl, historically protected by longstanding relationships with the Pac-12 and Big Ten, all but destroyed any hope of early expansion. Delaying his decision, Rose sent at least two different proposals outlining his wishes to the CFP board of directors, an 11-member group of FBS presidents who govern the Playoff. While working around deadlines set by CFP officials, La Rosa at first requested to keep his exclusive window of January 1 in future Playoffs, something CFP executives refused. In the expanded playoff format approved by the presidents on September 2, the six bowls would host the quarterfinals and semifinals in one rotation. When his Playoff game doesn’t fall on New Year’s Day, Rose wanted to host a non-CFP game, facing teams from the Pac-12 and Big Ten, in an exclusive window at his traditional date and time.
In its latest proposal, the Rose Bowl said it would give up the exclusive window in exchange for hosting a New Year’s Day semifinal in two of its three rotation years, a demand the CFP presidents also rejected.
Months, if not years, of frustration over the Rose Bowl’s positioning came to a head this week, with one top CFP executive even suggesting removing the bowl from the six-bowl rotation starting in 2026 if it didn’t agree to an expansion. early.
“Just human nature, there’s going to be a real discussion about the future of the Rose Bowl if they’re not willing to work with us,” the CFP source says. “And it doesn’t have to be unanimous.”
More college football coverage:
• Playoff Rankings Reaction: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly
• What a 12-team CFP playoff would look like this week
• Predict every conference championship game