Rejoice USC College football fans! You never have to make excuses on why you didn’t make the playoffs ever again. The Rose Bowl reportedly reached an agreement to allow the College Football Playoffs to expand from 4 teams to 12 teams. This expansion will take an effect in the 2024 season.

An expanded playoff was planned for when the CFP current contract with ESPN expired after the 2025 season. But the College Football Playoffs pitched the idea to the league to have an early expansion by the 2024 season. The primary reasons to expand early are to provide more playoff access to teams and score an extra $450 million per year from rightsholder ESPN so it could air the additional CFP games in 2024 and 2025. The 10 Football Bowl Subdivision conferences, Notre Dame, and the other New Year’s Six Bowls were all in agreement on early expansion for 2024 and 2025. However, there was one party that refused to agree to the CFP’s terms.

The Rose Bowl held out on negotiations because they wanted to keep their coveted 5 p.m. ET kickoff time slot on January 1st. This time slot is considered one of the most valuable in all of sports television, so it’s reasonable why the Rose Bowl was hesitant at first. According one industry source went on to say that the 5 p.m. times slot is equivalent to Super Bowl Sunday. “New Year’s Day is kind of like a Sunday, even if it’s not on a Sunday. Everybody is hung over from New Year’s Eve. They’re sitting back, it’s 5 o’clock. Everybody is done with what they need to do. It is the best window that there is.”

The problem with the Rose Bowl not accepting the deal is any agreement to expand the playoffs early ahead of the CFP’s new media rights contract starting in 2026 needed to be unanimous. So, if the Rose Bowl were to decline the expansion, it would singlehandedly void everyone else’s votes. In an attempt to compromise, the Rose Bowl proposed hosting CFP quarterfinals in 2024 and 2025 without the Big Ten and Pac-12. This would be in exchange for keeping its time slot as part of the CFP’s new media rights contract starting in 2026. CFP refused the offer and even became frustrated with the Rose Bowl. When asked what leverage the Rose Bowl has in the process, one person involved with the CFP replied with, “They have none.”

The CFP gave the Rose Bowl until the end of the week to come to terms with the expansion, or they’d be kept out of the selection process when the new contract was signed. There have been no details regarding the deal, but the Rose Bowl agreed to CFP terms. CFP executive director Bill Hancock shared his excitement with moving forward with the process. “We appreciate the leaders of the six bowl games and the two future championship-game host cities for their cooperation. Everyone realized that this change is in the best interest of college football and pulled together to make it happen.”

The expansion will be entirely different from the traditional 4 team playoffs that we know. The first round of the playoffs will take place the week ending Saturday, Dec. 21, 2024, at either the home field of the higher-seeded team or at another site designated by the higher-seeded school. Regarding the four quarterfinal games and two semifinal games in 2024, they will be played in bowls on a rotating basis. The quarterfinals will take place in the Fiesta Bowl, Peach Bowl, Rose Bowl, and Sugar Bowl. The semifinals will be hosted by the Cotton Bowl and Orange Bowl. Finally, the national championship will be played January 20th, 2025, in Atlanta.

Another huge reason why CFP is expanding is that parity has been an overwhelming concern for college football. A statistic was released that 21 of the first 32 playoff spots went to Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson, and Oklahoma during the first eight years of the CFP. This just showed how much more dominant some programs were than others. Although none of these programs made it in this year, the new playoffs will allow teams to have additional chances to compete for playoff spots deeper into the season.

When searching social media, it appeared that College Football fans were split on feelings about the new playoffs.  Some believed that it was great for College Football and that it made it seem more consistent with professional leagues like the NFL. Another fan commented on a Bleacher Report post that 12 teams is too many and that 8 would be the perfect number. Then there were fans poking fun saying, “Don’t be mad when you have an all-SEC final four.” It may be a joke, but it received 573 likes, so fans may feel the same way.

In my opinion, I feel like the new College Football Playoffs expansion is an excellent change and should’ve been a priority long ago. It should never be a case that a team is undefeated but doesn’t get a chance in the playoffs. Being a Notre Dame fan, I have been complaining about this rule for years. There are some that believe that expanding the playoffs doesn’t matter because the powerhouse schools will roll over everyone. It’s playoffs… upsets happen all the time in any sport. If you don’t believe me here are some examples recently: The March Madness Tournament, Saudi Arabia upsets Argentina in the World Cup, the wild card Atlanta Braves win the 2021 World Series… Should I go on? This is a great addition because it makes the CFP more exciting and brings more recognition to great football programs around the country.



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