the rose bowl
Photo by John Schreiber.

With Rose Bowl officials now on board, the College Football Playoff Board of Managers Thursday formally announced a switch to a 12-team playoff system that could change the timing of what has traditionally been a New Year’s Day game in Pasadena.

“We’re delighted to be moving forward,” Bill Hancock, executive director of the College Football Playoff, said in a statement Thursday. “When the board expanded the playoff beginning in 2026 and asked the CFP Management Committee to examine the feasibility of starting the new format earlier, the Management Committee went right to work. More teams and more access mean more excitement for fans, alumni, students and student-athletes.

“We appreciate the leaders of the six bowl games and the two future national 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 12-team format will begin in 2024, with the first two national championship games under the system set for Jan. 20, 2025, in Atlanta and Jan. 19, 2026, in Miami.

Under the system, first round games of the 12-team playoff will be held at the home field of the highter-seeded team — or at a stadium chosen by the higher-seeded team. In 2024, the quarterfinal games will be played at the Fiesta Bowl, Peach Bowl, Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl, while the Cotton Bowl and Orange Bowl will host the semifinal games. In 2025, the quarterfinals will take place at the Cotton Bowl, Orange Bowl, Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl, while the Fiesta Bowl and Peach Bowl will host the semifinal games.

Specific dates for the games have not yet been determined.

According to ESPN, the Rose Bowl had been the last holdout in negotiations to move to the 12-team system. The network reported that Rose Bowl officials were trying to include a special clause in the venue’s contract that would ensure an exclusive television window for a New Year’s Day game in years when Pasadena was not set to play host to a playoff game.

CFP officials wouldn’t relent, and gave the Rose Bowl an ultimatum this week to either sign onto the system or be excluded from the new playoff television contract, ESPN reported. Rose Bowl officials eventually relented and agreed to the new system, according to the network.

There’s been no official comment from the Rose Bowl.

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