College Football Playoff Announces Official Expansion to 12 Teams Beginning in 2024-25 Season

The college football playoffs will officially triple in size from its current four teams beginning in the 2024-25 season. The CFP Board of Directors has officially approved a 12-team field that will increase playoff access, as well as revenue for the CFP and its associated parties.

“We are excited to move forward,” said CFP Executive Director Bill Hancock. “When the board expanded the playoffs from 2026 and asked the CFP management committee to consider the feasibility of starting the new format earlier, the management committee got to work. More more teams and more access means more excitement for fans, alumni, students and student-athletes. We appreciate the leadership of the six bowling games and the two host cities of future national championships for their cooperation. All understood that this change is in the best interest of college football and mobilized to make it happen.”

The first round of the 2024-25 playoffs will take place throughout the week ending Saturday, December 21; the CFP will attempt to schedule those first-round matches later in the week. Matches will be hosted either at the home stadiums of the top-ranked teams in those matches or at other venues chosen by those programs for logistical purposes. These additional games are expected to generate approximately $450 million in ESPN revenue for CFP and its members.

The expanded 12-team field will feature the six highest-ranked conference champions as automatic qualifiers along with the next six-highest-ranked teams. The four highest-ranked conference champions will be seeded 1-4 with first-round byes. The next four highest-ranked teams (Nos. 5-8) will host the first-round matchups. The CFP Selection Committee will continue to determine the weekly ratings with criteria that will be reassessed in the future.

While dates have yet to be determined, game locations for the quarterfinals, semifinals and national championships for the 2024-25 and 2025-26 playoffs have already been determined.

Quarter-finals

Fiesta, Peach, Rose, Sugar

Cotton, Orange, Pink, Sugar

Semi-finals

Cotton, Orange

Party, Fishing

National Championship

Atlanta (January 20, 2025)

Miami (January 19, 2026)

“On behalf of the Executive Committee and the Board, this is exciting,” added Hancock. “It has been a long process, but we are excited that more teams and more students will have the opportunity to compete for the national championship starting in the 2024 season. A new era of college football is about to dawn. start. I can’t wait to be there.”

The playoff table rubber stamp was given after the Rose Bowl acquiesced on Wednesday night, agreeing to abide by the event’s scheduling policy instead of demanding to play in its traditional 5 p.m. ET timeslot. January 1st. This time slot is considered one of the most valuable in sports television. The agreement signed by the Rose Bowl, like those signed by the other major “contract bowls”, likely creates a lot more flexibility in this planning process.

In an expanded playoff, the games themselves are more important than the balls that host the contests. The Rose Bowl’s refusal to abide by a more uniform programming policy would have delayed the expansion until 2026 after the CFP’s current contract with ESPN ended. It would have cost the parties involved about $450 million in additional revenue, and it might have prevented the Rose Bowl from participating in the selection process once a new contract was signed.

Over the years, every BCS/CFP programming decision — thus far — has allowed the Rose Bowl to air its game at or around its preferred 5 p.m. time slot. The game has traditionally been programmed to follow the Tournament of Roses Parade. The timing was such that the sun still set in the west over the San Gabriel Mountains during the game, creating one of the most iconic settings in American sports.

It took college football 71 years to go from its first game (Princeton vs. Rutgers) to ranking teams in the era of broadcast services. The AP poll began in 1936. From there, it took 62 years to decide a champion on the field. The BCS started in 1998 and lasted 16 years until the CFP debuted in 2014. The four-team CFP will have lasted 10 years when the 12-team playoffs begin in 2024.

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