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Jumbo Package: Will playoff expansion really create more parity?

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Happy Monday, everyone. The topic on everyone’s mind right now is the college football playoff expansion. A couple of U.S. senators even weighed in on the topic, calling it a “cash grab”. To be fair, senators tend to be cash grabbing experts, so maybe we should listen to them.

The Athletic examines both sides of the current top heavy nature of the sport which led to all of this nonsense.

Since 2016, the final AP top five has included Clemson five times, Alabama and Ohio State four times, Oklahoma three times, Georgia and Notre Dame twice and LSU, Oregon, Texas A&M, USC and Washington once. The average number of top-five finishers in any five-year period since the start of the preseason poll in 1950 is 14.5. Eleven is tied for the lowest number, with the late 1980s/early 1990s, the late 1960s/early 1970s and the mid-1950s. It’s possible 2017 to 2021 could set a new low, unless there are top-five surprises this fall.

The highest number of schools to finish in the top five actually occurred recently, in the last five years of the BCS era, just before this current era of imbalance: From 2009 to ’13, 19 schools finished in the AP top five at least once, even though Nick Saban and Alabama began their dominance of the sport with three national championships in those five years.

Either the Lakers or Celtics — and often both — played for the NBA championship every year of the 1980s, and the sport only became more popular than ever. Certainly, no one complained in the ’90s about having to watch Michael Jordan’s Bulls in the NBA Finals over and over. And the Golden State Warriors’ recent run of five Finals appearances drew some of the highest TV ratings since … Jordan’s Bulls.

Despite pro football being explicitly designed to promote parity, the New England Patriots managed to dominate the sport for nearly two decades. Bill Belichick and Tom Brady (together or apart) have reached half of all the Super Bowls played in the past 20 years, and yet the NFL still enjoys immense popularity.

Dynasties, it would seem, are actually good for business.

The expanded playoff may create the occasional upset, but the sport isn’t going to be any less top heavy. If anything, watching the top teams beat the pulp out of those from the Pac 12 will create an even greater exodus of California talent. And that, really, is what started the entire conversation.

SEC coaches weighed in, and this quote from Ed Orgeron is too funny not to list.

Smart was one of several coaches to weigh in on the potential of a 12-team playoff, with LSU’s Ed Orgeron calling expansion “inevitable” and saying he is fine with a change that helps the Tigers reach the playoff.

“I think it’s coming,” Orgeron said. “Here’s what I’ve learned: As the older you get, you have to adapt. This game is changing, recruiting is changing, things are changing fast. We just have to adapt. Hey, if they expand, then good. It gives us a chance to get in.”

Poor Ed is conceding the SEC already.

Greg McElroy has a bad opinion about the playoff, but also weighed in on Nick Saban’s adaptation to the modern athlete.

“But, also with how he’s handled the players, he’s adapted to what the players need nowadays. I don’t think he’s as hard on the players as he once was. I think his willingness to smile and his willingness and his just sheer enjoyment of being around the guys has changed significantly. So, I think, as he’s gotten older, I think he’s appreciated how hard it is, too, and I certainly, in my years of covering him now on this side of the microphone, have noticed a little bit of a change, as well, as far as the personality is concerned.”

Nick is a big old softy these days.

Last, the Tide landed a punta from down unda.

“I am extremely excited and honored to announce that I am committed to the University of Alabama,” Burnip said in a statement on social media. “...To Coach Saban and Coach Galante, I am extremely grateful and excited for this opportunity and am excited to get to work in the coming weeks!” rates Burnip as a 4.5-star punter and he is listed at 6-foot-6 and 215 pounds. Burnip has trained extensively with Prokick Australia that has produced Division 1 punters like Ohio State’s Cameron Johnston, Arkansas’ Sam Irwin-Hill, LSU’s Jamie Keehn and Penn State’s Daniel Pasquariello, among others.

Oddly, he says he decommitted from Ole Miss because they only offered him a three year scholarship. I have never heard of any such, but he is better off in Tuscaloosa anyway. Physically, he is a J.K. Scott clone. Hopefully he will kick it as well.

That’s about it for today. Have a great week.

Roll Tide.