On Wednesday night, multiple outlets reported that the Rose Bowl had decided to do what it needed to remain part of the College Football Playoff, clearing the way for the CFP to expand from four to 12 teams beginning in the 2024 season, a move that was made official on Thursday morning.

Prior to Wednesday, multiple outlets reported the Rose Bowl had been insisting that the game would remain on New Year’s Day, starting at 3 p.m. Mountain Time, in the new format for 2026 and beyond (the CFP was originally not going to expand until its contract with ESPN expires after the 2025-26 season, but there was a major push to move it up two years).

Additionally, the game is scheduled to feature its traditional matchup of Pac-12 and Big Ten champions in 2024 and 2025, but the CFP was looking to have it be a quarterfinal game in an expanded playoff.

This would have almost surely meant that it wouldn’t have always been feasible to have the game feature a Pac-12 team and a Big Ten team and have it start on Jan. 1 at 3 p.m. MT, and Rose Bowl officials were reportedly apprehensive about making those concessions (the Rose Bowl has been a semifinal host three times since the CFP’s inception in 2015 and thus featured teams outside the Pac-12 and Big Ten).

Had the Rose Bowl not made those concessions (the CFP gave it a deadline of Wednesday, multiple outlets reported), it would have been a hit to both the CFP and the game itself.

The CFP wants the Rose Bowl since it is one of the elite bowls on the schedule each year, but had bowl officials not agreed to be flexible, it could have threatened that elite status.

In essence, the Rose Bowl’s initial unwillingness to be flexible kept the CFP from being able to expand, but it has now been able to do so.

As it stands, here’s how the expanded playoff will be formatted beginning in 2024, per the CFP’s official announcement Thursday:

  • The first round (the top four teams will have byes) will be played the week ending Dec. 21, with games “at either the home field of the higher-seeded team or at another site designated by the higher-seeded institution.”
  • In 2024, the quarterfinals will be at the Fiesta Bowl, Peach Bowl, Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl, with the Cotton Bowl and Orange Bowl hosting the semifinals. In 2025, the quarterfinals will be at the Cotton Bowl, Orange Bowl, Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl, with the Fiesta Bowl and Peach Bowl hosting the semifinals.
  • The national championship games will be played January 20, 2025, in Atlanta, and January 19, 2026, in Miami.