The College Football Playoff is getting bigger sooner than first thought.
The CFP Board of Managers, of which West Virginia University President Gordon Gee is a member, announced Thursday that the expanded 12-team playoff format will officially roll out for the 2024-25 season, two years earlier than originally planned. The first round of the expanded playoff will take place in the week ending Saturday, Dec. 21.
“On behalf of the Management Committee and the Board of Managers, this is thrilling,” said Bill Hancock, the Executive Director of the CFP. “It’s been a long process, but we are pleased that more teams and more students will have the opportunity to compete for the national championship beginning in the 2024 season. A new era of college football is about to begin. I look forward to it.”
This expansion was originally slated to go into effect no later than 2026, however, reports soon after this announcement indicated the committee expected to start earlier than that. The major hangup was the Rose Bowl, which wanted to play out the rest of its current contract.
Reports circulated Wednesday that the “Grandaddy of them All” had agreed to the early rollout of the 12-team College Football Playoff, paving the way for Thursday’s announcement.
The first round of the playoff will include the bottom eight seeded teams in the field, with each game hosted by the higher-ranked team in the matchup. The four quarterfinal games will be played in bowls on a rotating basis.
The Rose Bowl, Peach Bowl, Fiesta Bowl and Sugar Bowl will compete in the first quarterfinal in 2024, while the Cotton Bowl and the Orange Bowl will host the Playoff Semifinals. The first national championship game in the new format will be played on Jan. 20, 2025 in Atlanta.
“We’re delighted to be moving forward,” Hancock said. “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.”