As sports evolve, East is no longer East and West is no longer West | David Whitley

Jimmy Kimmel did a routine called “Can You Name A Country?” a few years back. A couple of his staff members quizzed random people on the street, seeing if they could simply name a country on a map.

One guy thought Asia was a country. Others identified Alaska as Iceland and Bolivia as South Africa.

The spoof confirmed what many studies have shown: we’re a nation of geography illiterates.

Now we’re only going to get dumber, thanks to our nation’s institutes of higher learning.

Last week’s bombshell news was that USC and UCLA are joining the Big Ten. In case you’re not up on college locales, those two schools are in Los Angeles. The rest of the Big Ten might as well be on Mars.

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There’s more geographic jumbling on the way. Rumor is Oregon and Washington and maybe even Notre Dame might join the Southeastern Conference, though Greg Sanke is reportedly also eyeing France and Japan.

The winners in this land rush will be SEC and Big Ten members, which will be getting $100 million a year in TV revenue. The losers will be the ACC, the Pac-12 and American education.

All over the country, kids will be raising their hands and asking, “Mrs. Krabappel, was Oregon part of the Confederacy?”

Sports has always played fast and loose with geography, which is why the Atlanta Braves were in the National League West and Missouri’s still in the SEC East. But conferences generally kept some logistical order by having “contiguous” members.

That’s a fancy word for sharing a border, or at least being close enough to touch something with a 1-million-foot pole. At last report, LA is 1,496 miles from the nearest Big Ten school.

It’s 2,753 miles from Piscataway, New Jersey, where UCLA’s field hockey team might enjoy its first snow game against Rutgers in 2024. The Big Ten’s carbon footprint from charter flights alone might make Al Gore move to Pluto.

Barring intervention by the Environmental Protection Agency, it seems nothing is going to stop this relocation dislocation train. Just tell your kids not to base their geographic knowledge on sports and prepare for some interesting SEC road trips.

I can’t wait to see Florida take on the University of Tokyo in 2031….

Stud of the Week: Mabel Cross, who celebrated her 101st birthday by throwing a ceremonial first pitch at a Mariners game. “It’s never too late to be great,” she said.

Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest

Stud II: Joey Chestnut. Not only did he win his seventh straight Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest, Chestnut kept chewing as he grabbed a protester who’d jumped onstage. “It’s never too late to put a clown in a chokehold,” he said.

Dud of the Week: The animal cruelty protester in the Darth Vader costume (Dan Mullen?) who crashed the eating contest. I get the vegan thing, but hot dogs don’t have any rights….

Congrats to Marty Liquori for being inducted into the CoSida Academic All-America Hall of Fame. Liquori had a legendary track career at Villanova 50 years ago but attended grad school at UF and lives in Gainesville, so the Gators might claim him as their seventh inductee….

This Week in NIL — Video surfaced of a Texas A&M staffer showing recruits around Kyle Field and saying, “At the top, y’all getting a lot of money from the people in these suites if you decide to play here.”

Jimbo Fisher immediately denied any impropriety, saying the video was a harmless reenactment of Phil Mickelson discussing the LIV Tour with Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka….

There really is a University of Tokyo. It has as many SEC football titles as Vanderbilt…

This Week in LIV — At the tournament in Portland, a gallery member greeted Dustin Johnson with, “Let’s go, DJ! Dismember the competition! Cut their limbs off!”

Security guards whisked the fan to the nearest Saudi embassy, where he is expected to be mailed home in six separate packages. In related news, Mickelson is 20-over par through the first two LIV tournaments. The Saudis are reportedly restructuring Mickelson’s $200 million bonus and will start paying him $500,000 for every par….

Joey Chestnut got $10,000 for winning the Nathan’s contest. If hot dog eating were an NCAA sport, he’d be making $10,000 a week from A&M people in the suites….

This Just In: Notre Dame has reportedly turned down bids from the ACC, Pac-12 and SEC and will instead be joining the LIV Tour….

The Magic re-signed center Bol Bol last week. That’s minor news at best, but I just like typing “Bol Bol.”….

NASA boss Bill Nelson warned last week that China is planning a “takeover” of the moon as part of its military space program. A lunar spokesperson denied the report and said the moon will probably join the SEC…

That’s about the space we have for this week’s Whitley’s Believe It or Not. Until next week, remember Bolivia is not South Africa and it’s never too late to be great. Unless you are Vanderbilt’s football program.

— David Whitley is The Gainesville Sun's sports columnist. Contact him at Follow him on Twitter @DavidEWhitley

This article originally appeared on The Gainesville Sun: Football conference land rush leaves geography in the dust