Rose Bowl approves deal that will clear way for early CFP expansion

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There was one piece left in the college football Playoff expansion puzzle that needed to be completed in order to pave the way for the CFP to expand to 12 teams.

It all came together Wednesday night when Rose Bowl game organizers informed College Football Playoff officials that they are willing to amend the agreements for the 2024 and ’25 seasons, clearing the way for the CFP to expand.

A person with knowledge of discussions between game organizers and CFP officials told The Associated Press that the Rose Bowl is prepared to be flexible and wants to remain part of the playoff beyond 2025.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the presidents and chancellors who oversee the playoff had yet to give final approval to the expansion plans. The deal between the Rose Bowl and the CFP was first reported by ESPN.

College leaders who make up the CFP’s board of directors sought a decision from Rose Bowl officials Wednesday on whether to amend the contracts for 2024 and ’25 and allow the playoff to triple from four teams to 12.

The Rose Bowl is slated to have a traditional Pac-12-Big Ten matchup in these seasons. To have a 12-team playoff, the Rose Bowl would have to host a quarterfinal in its traditional Jan. 1 timeslot.

Rose Bowl officials had asked the CFP to guarantee the game would remain on New Year’s Day in the new format for 2026 and beyond.

The leaders of the PCP resisted.

The CFP’s original 12-year contract with ESPN expires after the 2025-26 season. CFP officials were unwilling to make any binding commitments about the College Football Playoff beyond 2025.

The College Football Playoff expansion is expected to bring in an additional $450 million in gross revenue over the final two years of the current contract.

The Rose Bowl is one of six that currently rotates as host of the CFP semifinals every three years. The other five bowls and host cities for championship games scheduled to be held after the 2024 and 25 seasons had already agreed to adapt to a new CFP format.

If the Rose Bowl had prevented early expansion, the 122-year-old bowl game called the Granddaddy of Them All might have been left out of the next set of CFP deals.

Two weeks ago, Rose Bowl organizers told the AP in a statement: “We have no intention of being the only obstacle that would prevent the expansion from happening before the end of its current cycle.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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