A Tournament of Roses official told Pasadena Now on Tuesday that talks are continuing between the Tournament and the College Football Playoffs (CFP) after the CFP issued an ultimatum that could move the time and date of the Rose Bowl Game.
“We have continued our conversations with the CFP Board of Managers, and we are hopeful that an agreement will be soon reached, ” said Laura Farber, Chair of the Rose Bowl Management Committee in a statement to Pasadena Now on Tuesday.
According to ESPN, if the Tournament of Roses cannot come to terms with the CFP by Wednesday, the ‘Granddaddy of them All’ could be excluded from the playoff expansion and a media contract worth nearly half a billion dollars.
On Monday Pasadena Now reported that the Tournament wants to keep its exclusive broadcast window at 2 p.m. on January 1 in years that it would also host a CFP semifinal.
According to the report, organizers of the game are willing to temporarily concede the traditional Big Ten vs. Pac-12 battles to host a quarterfinal game in 2024 and 2025.
But that’s not what’s created the impasse.
The CFP is hoping to expand the playoff system from four games to 12 games. In the new system, the quarterfinals and semifinals would be played in five bowl games, the Rose Bowl, the Cotton, Fiesta, Orange and Sugar bowls, on a rotating basis. The championship game would be at a neutral site, as under the current four-team format.
If the Tournament of Roses signs on, the Rose Bowl Game would not be held on Jan. 1 every year. Tournament officials have proposed that the Rose Bowl Game be allowed to host a traditional Pac-12 vs. Big Ten matchup at its traditional 2 p.m. time in the Rose Bowl when the game is not a quarterfinal or semifinal contest.
According to one source in the ESPN story, the CFP wants the Rose Bowl and hopes the game will be part of the expansion.
The Rose Bowl is the oldest bowl game.
If the CFP doesn’t expand in time for the 2024 season, it could lose roughly $450 million in potential gross revenue.
According to ESPN, the Rose Bowl Game is the last and most complicated issue preventing expansion. Organizers of the other five bowl games have agreed to terms.
However, none of the other games are tethered to a parade and New Year tradition that garners millions of viewers on Jan. 1.
Traditionally the Rose Bowl Game starts 90 minutes after the end of the parade.
Farber told ESPN in November the Bowl was willing to be flexible.
“For anyone to say that the Rose Bowl Game is the sole reason right now that expansion may not happen before the current cycle runs out is categorically wrong,” Farber said. “Yes, we need to work through the details of our contract and our separate broadcast agreement, but we remain open to that.”
A source said the CFP has assured the Tournament of Roses it will do everything it can to work around the Jan. 1 2 p.m. slot, but has asked all of the bowls to take a “leap of faith.”
In September, the CFP unanimously voted to expand the CFP to 12 teams in 2026 but encouraged the sport’s commissioners to work to implement it as early as 2024. The original 12-team model, first made public in June 2021, includes the six highest-ranked conference champions and six at-large teams.
The rankings of the teams will continue to be determined by the CFP selection committee.
The four highest-ranked conference champions receive a first-round bye. Teams seeded five through 12 will play each other in the first round.
“I don’t want it to just come down to the Rose Bowl as the reason we don’t start it early, I really don’t, but it may be,” a CFP source told ESPN. “We said this from Day 1 — there may be any number of reasons we can’t. We’re really down to one remaining issue.”
The CFP’s relationship turned controversial when the CFP opted to move the game from Pasadena to Arlington, TX during the pandemic. The move soured the Tournament’s relationship with the City.
During that dustup, the City claimed the Rose Bowl could only be played in Pasadena on Jan. 1 or 2 according to an agreement between the City and the Tournament.
It is not known if the CFP would move the game from Pasadena again under a new deal.