Rose Bowl given Wednesday deadline for CFP

College Football Playoff leaders gave the Rose Bowl an ultimatum this week, setting a self-imposed deadline of Wednesday to determine if the CFP can expand in time for the start of the 2024 regular season, and if the game’s most famous bowl can if they do If they don’t agree to the terms, it’s possible they could be kicked out of the New Year’s Six Bowl rotation in the next contract, sources told ESPN.

“We want the Rose Bowl,” said a CFP source. “We have a good partnership with the six bowls that we are affiliated with. This is what we do. And we want to continue with that. I hope the Rose Bowl will be a part of that, but there’s no guarantee of that. No.”

If the CFP is not expanded in time for the 2024 season, approximately $450 million in potential gross revenue will be lost. The pressure to make a decision this week – possibly as early as Tuesday – is mounting.

While the position of the Rose Bowl in an expanded CFP isn’t the only obstacle that has slowed the process, it is the last and most complicated. The discussion revolved around one of the most lucrative television windows in college sports. Laura Farber, the chair of the Rose Bowl Management Committee, told ESPN earlier this month the game wanted to maintain its exclusive broadcast window at 2 p.m. PT on Jan. 1 in years that it would also host a CFP semifinals.

The Rose Bowl was willing to temporarily sever its relationship with the Big Ten and Pac-12 to host a quarterfinal game in 2024 and 2025, but in return asked for assurances in the new contract. There is no deal beyond the current 12-year deal, which runs through the 2025 season.

“We continue to have daily discussions with the CFP Board of Directors and remain hopeful that we can come to an agreement,” a Rose Bowl spokesman told ESPN on Tuesday.

Farber told ESPN in November the bowl was ready to be flexible.

“Anyone who says that the Rose Bowl game right now is the only reason an expansion might not happen before the end of the current cycle is categorically wrong,” Farber said. “Yes, we need to work through the details of our contract and our separate broadcasting agreement, but we remain open to that.”

A CFP source said it was fair to call it an ultimatum but not a threat. CFP leaders are urging the Rose Bowl to reconsider some of the guarantees it is seeking in the next contract. When the 10 FBS commissioners and Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick negotiate the next TV deal, they agree to have multiple TV partners. ESPN is currently the sole rights holder through the 2025 season. A source said the CFP has assured the Rose Bowl that it will do everything in its power to bypass the Jan. 1 2 p.m. PT deadline, but all bowls asked to take a leap of faith because commissioners can’t be bound by promises that may or may not affect value when trying to negotiate the next deal.

“We’re at the point where we have to make a decision to move forward,” a source said. “Here we are.”

In order for the CFP to expand during this ongoing contract, unanimous consent from all stakeholders – including all New Year’s Six Bowl games, the CFP and ESPN as the exclusive rights holder – must be given. Multiple sources told ESPN that the calendar had been finalized — the presidents and chancellors met on Nov. 16 and finalized the distribution of revenue, a source said. The final piece of the puzzle was the Rose Bowl. When the next contract is negotiated, it doesn’t have to be unanimous — making it much easier to move forward without the Rose Bowl and/or Big Ten and Pac-12 votes.

The self-imposed deadline of 30 November was issued because the host cities are running out of time and have bent over backwards to do justice to the CFP while they try to work out the details. In mid-August, the CFP announced that Atlanta would host the national championship game in 2025, followed by Miami in January 2026.

With pressure mounting to quickly make a decision to expand in time for the 2024 season, discussions intensified Monday morning when several members of the CFP board held a meeting. The 11 Presidents and Chancellors who make up the Board of Directors have ultimate authority over the playoffs.

In the 12-team format proposed for 2024, the Cotton and Orange Bowls would stay true to the current agreement and host semifinals, and in 2025 the Fiesta and Peach Bowls would also host semifinals as currently scheduled.

On September 2, the board of the CFP voted unanimously to expand the CFP to 12 teams in 2026, but encouraged the sport’s commissioners to try to implement it as early as 2024. The original 12-team model was first released in June 2021, and includes the top six conference champions and six teams at large.

Team placements will continue to be determined by the CFP Selection Committee, which will remain largely unchanged.

The top four ranked conference champions are seeded first through fourth, with each receiving a first-round bye. The teams with places 5 to 12 play against each other in the first round. The quarterfinals and semifinals will be played in alternating bowl games, and the championship game will be played at a neutral venue, like the current four-team format.

“I don’t want it to just come to the Rose Bowl because we don’t start that early, I really don’t want it but it could be,” a CFP source said. “We’ve said that from Day 1 – there could be a number of reasons why we can’t. We really only have one problem left.” Rose Bowl given Wednesday deadline for CFP

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