Rose Bowl deal paves way for 12-team College Football Playoff expansion in 2024 and 2025

By | December 1, 2022

The Rose Bowl signed a deal with the College Football Playoff that paves the way for the event’s expansion to 12 teams starting in 2024, sources confirm to CBS Sports. The CFP had given the Rose Bowl until the end of the week – at the latest – to agree to terms the bowl was thus far unwilling to accept.

With the Rose Bowl now at the fold, a formal announcement of a 12-team playoff being held in 2024 and 2025 is expected soon. The new format was initially agreed upon by the CFP Board of Directors in September.

Although the terms of the agreement signed by the Rose Bowl are not yet known, the bowl has been demanding to play its game in its traditional time slot of 5:00 pm ET on January 1, despite the playoff expansion potentially affecting the bowl schedule. This time slot is considered one of the most valuable in sports television. The agreement signed by the Rose Bowl likely creates significantly more flexibility in that scheduling process.

In an expanded playoff, the games themselves are more important than the bowls in which they are played. The Rose Bowl’s refusal to agree to a more uniform programming policy would have delayed the expansion until 2026, after the expiration of CFP’s current contract with ESPN. This would have cost the parties involved an estimated $450 million in additional revenue and may have kept the Rose Bowl out of the selection process after a new contract was signed.

The Rose Bowl has proposed hosting the CFP Quarterfinals in 2024 and 2025 – possibly without its traditional Big Ten and Pac-12 partners – in exchange for retaining its time slot as part of the CFP’s new media rights deal beginning in 2026, a source close to the situation told CBS Sports. That offer was declined.

Asked what influence the Rose Bowl had on the process, one person involved in the CFP process simply replied, “They don’t have any.” A CFP Bowl official said the initial expansion would have been impossible after this weekend’s conference championship games amid the turmoil of the bowl and playoff season.

The CFP is in the ninth year of a 12-year contract with ESPN that expires after the 2025 season. All necessary parties, except the Rose Bowl, have already agreed to expand to 12 teams for the 2024 and 2025 seasons. of the FBS, Notre Dame, and participating New Year’s Six Bowls agreed on issues such as on-campus games, game dates, and revenue distribution for early expansion. However, the early expansion agreement needed to be unanimous.

Over the years, every BCS/CFP scheduling decision – until now – has allowed the Rose Bowl to air its game in its preferred time slot of 5:00 pm on or around New Year’s Day. The game was traditionally timed to follow the Tournament of Roses of Parade. The timing was such that the sun always set in the west over the San Gabriel Mountains during the game, thus creating one of the most iconic backdrops in American sports.

With the CFP poised to expand, its handlers became less lenient in meeting Rose Bowl demands. That 5pm slot will be very valuable in the future when – for the first time – the feeling is that the games are more important than the bowling alleys.

“It’s the equivalent of Super Bowl Sunday,” an industry insider said of the 5pm time slot. “New Year’s Day is like a Sunday, even if it’s not Sunday. Everyone has a New Year’s Eve hangover. They’re sitting down, it’s 5 o’clock. Everyone’s already done what they need to do. It’s the best window we have exists.”

The main reasons for expanding early are to provide more access to the playoffs for teams and to get an extra $450 million per year from ESPN, the rights holder, so that it can air the additional CFP games in 2024 and 2025. media will need to be signed for 2026 and beyond.

It was unclear what influence the Rose Bowl believed it had on the negotiations. That broadcast window is a valuable one, and CFP stakeholders were fed up with accommodating the Rose Bowl in an arrangement that goes back nearly a quarter of a century.

The Rose Bowl began relinquishing its exclusivity in 1998, the first year of the BCS. At that time, he agreed to end an ongoing series of appearances by Big Ten and Pac-12 champions dating back to 1947. Under the BCS agreement, the Rose Bowl relinquished its two berths once every four years in a rotation to host the BCS Championship Match. This occurred for the first time after the 2001 season, when Miami defeated Nebraska for its last national title. At the time, both schools mentioned how they must feel like outsiders after 55 consecutive years of Big Ten vs. Pac-8/10 matchups.

When the CFP started in 2014, it was assured that the Rose Bowl would never host a national championship. Los Angeles was building the new SoFi Stadium, and the city of Pasadena did not have the means to overcome the city of LA SoFi that will host the 2023 CFP National Championship. Meanwhile, since 2014, the Rose Bowl hosted the 2015 CFP semifinals, 2018 and 2021.

“The glow of this game goes away [if the Rose doesn’t agree]”, said a bowl executive outside the CFP system. Maybe the Rose Bowl just has to give in, suck it up. It’s just who blinks first.”

On Wednesday night, the Rose Bowl flashed.

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